A life of crime


To help celebrate Crimefest, the International crime fiction convention that takes place in Bristol this month, here are 10 of the most popular crime writers and our pick of their must-read books

Peter James

Peter James has gone straight in at number one in the Sunday Times bestseller chart seven times in the past four years, and has now sold 14 million copies of his books worldwide.

Must read: Dead Simple (Pan, £7.99). The tenth instalment in the Roy Grace series, Want You Dead (Pan Macmillan, £20), is also due out in June.

Raymond Chandler

Considered by many to have been one of the most influential writers in the detective genre – many of his crime novels have also been made into films.

Must read: The Big Sleep (Penguin, £8.99).

Arthur Conan Doyle

He may have written his last book in the Sherlock Holmes series back in the 1920s, but the amateur detective is still as popular as ever. In fact, Sherlock Holmes has been portrayed on TV and films more times than any other human literary character.

Must read: The Hound of the Baskervilles (Penguin Classics, £5.99).

Kathy Reichs

Kathy Reichs divides her time between writing novels and her work as a forensic anthropologist. The protagonist in her novels, Temperance Brennan, is also a forensic anthropologist and is based loosely on herself.

Must read: Déjà Dead (Arrow, £7.99).

John le Carré

If spy novels are your thing, then check out John le Carré. The British novelist – born David John Moore Cornwell – once worked for the British intelligence services MI5 and MI6, which lends some authenticity to his novels.

Must read: The Spy Who Came in From the Cold (Penguin Classics, £8.99).

Ruth Rendell

With her first novel published in 1964, Ruth Rendell has gained a reputation as one of the best writers of the crime genre. Ruth also writes under her pseudonym Barbara Vine.

Must read: A Judgement in Stone (Arrow, £7.99).

P. D. James

P.D. (aka Phyllis Dorothy) James may be 93 years old but she still remains a force to be reckoned with in the literary world. She is most famous for a series of detective novels starring Adam Dalgliesh and has had most of her 20 books adapted for TV.

Must read: Death Comes to Pemberley (Faber & Faber, £8.99).

James Ellroy

American crime writer James Ellroy is known for having a ‘telegraphic’ style of writing, whereby he omits “non-essential” words and delivers punchy, concise prose. He is the author of LA Confidential, which was adapted for a film starring Kevin Spacey, Guy Pearce and Russell Crowe.

Must read: The Black Dahlia (Windmill Books, £8.99).

Martina Cole

One of the most popular British crime writers with 20 books to her name, Martina Cole’s novel The Take won the British Book Award for Crime Thriller of the Year in 2006 and was adapted for Sky One.

Must read: The Life (Headline, £7.99).

Patricia Cornwell

Patricia Cornwell’s crime novels have sold more than 100 million copies worldwide and have included 26 New York Times bestsellers. Most of her novels centre on Kay Scarpetta, a medical examiner.

Must read: Postmortem (Sphere, £7.99).

Crimefest is being held on 15-18 May. Visit crimefest.com for details.

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