Crime and mystery fiction’s diversity attracts a broad readership. For instance, I prefer the soft stuff and am attracted to the puzzle rather than grizzly details, while many of my friends enjoy peeled skin and body parts. Knowing that, it seems immensely impertinent for me to try to compile a “best of” list on my own. So, I engaged my online community in search of a random (objectively subjective!) sampling. And the thing that struck me from the almost two hundred replies I received was that crime readers love—and more often remember—the author and the main character in a series rather than specific titles.
So, what began as a list of the Top Ten Crime and Mystery Novels by Women, evolved into a Top Ten Female Crime and Mystery Authors. Of course, who knows what “Top” means exactly? Most popular? Most well-marketed? Most enduring? Most engaging? Most well-written? All of the preceding? The accurate description, I suppose, would be to say that this is a list of crime and mystery authors that my friends and colleagues most appreciate. And I do acknowledge there may be a slight survey bias towards Australian writers, seeing as a lot of my online community are Australian. But of course, that’s not a bad thing, is it?!
Anyway, I’ve tallied up the numbers, and below are the results. With each author, I’ve also recommended a series or a title to get you started based on survey preferences. Consider this a recommended reading list for 2017! And because you might have read many of the Top Ten, I’ve added an Honorable Mentions list plus some Wildcards.
1. Agatha Christie – pretty much anything but The ABC Murders and Sleeping Murder
2. Dorothy Sayers – Five Red Herrings, Gaudy Night, Murder as Advertised, and the Lord Peter series
3. Val McDermid – The Mermaids Singing and the entire Tony Hill series
4. Tana French – Faithful Place (Broken Harbour and In the Woods were mentioned as well, but I invoked authorial rights because Faithful Place is my favorite).
5. Jane Harper – The Dry
6. Kerry Greenwood – Corinna Chapman and Phryne Fisher series
7. Gillian Flynn – Gone Girl
8. Karin Slaughter – Grant County series
9. Ellis Peters – The Cadfael Chronicles
10. Kathy Reichs – Temperance Brennan series
2. Sulari Gentill – A Murder Unmentioned and the Rowland Sinclair series
3. Ngaio Marsh – Artists in Crime
4. Tess Gerritson – the Rizzoli and Isles series
5. Ruth Rendell/Barbara Vine – Talking to Strange Men/A Dark-Adapted Eye
6. Louise Penny – the Armand Gamache series
7. Patricia Cornwall – the Scarpetta series (the early books)
8. Lindsey Davis – the Falco mysteries, especially Venus in Copper
9. Josephine Tey – Brat Fararr
11. Denise Mina – the Alex Morrow series
12. J.D. Robb – the In Death series
13. Elizabeth George – A Great Deliverance
Wildcard individual titles in the mix that you might like to try:
1. Sam Baker – The Woman Who Ran
2. P. M. Newton – Old School
3. Tansy Rayner Roberts – A Trifle Dead
4. Megan Abbott – The Song is You
5. Wendy James –The Husband’s Secret
6. Laurie R. King –The Beekeeper’s Apprentice
8. Angela Savage – Behind the Night Bazaar
9. Minette Walters – The Scold’s Bridle
To learn more or order a copy of Marianne Delacourt's novel Sharp Turn, visit:
Marianne Delacourt is the author of the Tara Sharp comic crime novels and alter ego of internationally published SF writer Marianne de Pierres. In 2010, Marianne Delacourt was the recipient of Sister’s in Crime Australia’s Davitt Award for Best Crime Novel.
Marianne has just unveiled the new look for her action-packed crime series Tara Sharp and a rewrite of the gripping second novel Sharp Turn. Sharp Turn is available now from Twelfth Planet Press. Book One, Sharp Shooter, is available from Twelfth Planet Press and from Amazon.