The 50 best crime novels

American justice

LA Confidential
by James Ellroy (1990)

The most powerful writer on crime and corruption in California turns his attention to greedy and brutal officers of the LAPD, men who dabble in drugs, pornography, vice and violence. James Ellroy lays it on thick, sometimes too thick, but there’s no doubting him as one of America’s great writers.

Cruel and Unusual
by Patricia Cornwell (1993)

The queen of autopsy made her reputation with a succession of novels describing Dr Kay Scarpetta, Virginia’s medical officer, cutting up dead bodies and finding something that’s not quite right. Someone gets murdered, apparently by the recently executed criminal whom Scarpetta has just dissected.

Black Cherry Blues
by James Lee Burke (1989)

James Lee Burke is the most lyrical of…

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