Best Selling Mystery Crime
Fiction 1800 to 1929
This is a list of best selling mystery crime fiction novels in the United States. The list features the most popular
crime fiction novels from 1800 through 1929.
1800 to 1899
- Edgar Allan Poe: Tales of Mystery & Imagination
- A combination of some of Poe's most popular stories including The Fall of the House of Usher and
The Murders in the Rue Morgue with lesser-known gems.
- Wilkie Collins: The Woman in White
This dramatic tale, inspired by an actual criminal case, is told through multiple narrators. Frederick Fairlie, a wealthy hypochondriac, hires virtuous Walter Hartright to tutor his beautiful niece and heiress, Laura, and her homely, courageous half-sister, Marian Halcombe. Although Hartright and Laura fall in love, she honors her late father's wish that she marry Sir Percival Glyde, a villain who plans to steal her inheritance. Glyde is assisted by sinister Count Fosco, a cultured, corpulent Italian. Their plot is threatened by Anne Catherick, a mysterious fugitive from a mental asylum who dresses in white, resembles Laura, and knows the secret of Glyde's illegitimate birth. Through the perseverance of Hartright and Marian, Glyde and Fosco are defeated and killed, allowing Hartright to marry Laura.
- Fyodor Dostoevski: Crime and Punishment
(1866) - Mired in poverty, the student Raskolnikov nevertheless thinks well of himself. Of his pawnbroker he takes a different view, and in deciding to do away with her he sets in motion his own tragic downfall.
- Wilkie Collins: The Moonstone
(1868)- Rachel Verinder, a young Englishwoman, inherits a large Indian diamond
on her eighteenth birthday. It is a legacy from her uncle, a corrupt English
army officer who served in India. The diamond is of great religious significance
as well as being extremely valuable, and three Hindu priests have dedicated
their lives to recovering it. Rachel's eighteenth birthday is celebrated with a large party, whose guests include her cousin Franklin Blake. She wears the Moonstone on her dress that evening for all to see, including some Indian jugglers who have called at the house. Later that night, the diamond is stolen from Rachel's bedroom, and a period of turmoil, unhappiness, misunderstandings and ill-luck ensues.
- Charles Dickens: The Mystery of Edwin Drood
(1870) - Set in the seemingly innocuous cathedral town of Cloisterham, the story rapidly darkens with a sense of impending evil. Central to the plot is John Jasper: in public he is a man of integrity and benevolence; in private he is an opium addict. And while seeming to smile on the engagement of his nephew, Edwin Drood, he is, in fact, consumed by jealousy, driven to terrify the boys fiancée and to plot the murder of Edwin himself.
- Arthur Conan Doyle: The Collected Sherlock Holmes Short Stories
(1892-1927) For more information about this author Click Here
- Bram Stoker: Dracula
(1897) - A naive young Englishman travels to Transylvania to do business with a client, Count Dracula. After showing his true and terrifying colors, Dracula boards a ship for England in search of new, fresh blood. Unexplained disasters begin to occur in the streets of London before the mystery and the evil doer are finally put to rest.
1900 to 1909
- Arthur Conan Doyle: The Hound of the Baskervilles
(1902) - Upon hearing Dr. James Mortimer's saga of the haunted Baskerville
family and the recent death of family head Sir Charles Baskerville, apparently
from the hound of the legend, Holmes and Watson begin their investigation. When
the estate's heir, Sir Henry Baskerville, arrives in London from Canada strange
things immediately occur and Holmes dispatches Watson to accompany Sir Henry to
Baskerville Hall. For more information about this author Click Here
- Erskine Childers: The Riddle of the Sands
(1903) - While on a sailing holiday in the North Sea, two young Englishmen encounter suspicious German naval activity off the coast of the Frisian Islandsa discovery that leads them into a world of suspense and intrigue.
- Edgar Wallace: The Four Just Men
(1906) - A story of a group of men who take the law into their own hands, threatening to murder the British foreign minister if he insists on signing what they consider an unjust law.
- Joseph Conrad: The Secret Agent
(1907) - Mr. Verloc, the secret agent, keeps a shop in London's Soho where he lives with his wife Winnie, her infirm mother, and her idiot brother, Stevie. When Verloc is reluctantly involved in an anarchist plot to blow up the Greenwich Observatory things go disastrously wrong, and what appears to be "a simple tale" proves to involve politicians, policemen, foreign diplomats and London's fashionable society in the darkest and most surprising interrelations.
- Mary Roberts Rinehart: The Circular Staircase
(1908) - Wealthy spinster Miss Innes is persuaded by her two wards--niece and nephew Gertrude and Halsey--to take a house in the country for the summer. But no sooner is Miss Innes and her fearful maid Liddy installed at Sunnyside then things begin to go bump in night, and murder is not far behind.
1910 to 1919
- G. K. Chesterton: The Innocence of Father Brown
(1911) - The first of five collections of mystery stories by G. K. Chesterton starring an unimposing but surprisingly capable Roman Catholic priest. Father Browns ability to uncover the truth behind the mystery continually surpasses that of the experts around him, who are fooled into underestimation by the priests unimpressive outward appearance and, often, by their own prejudices about Christianity.
- E. C. Bentley: Trent's Last Case
(1913) - When the American plutocrat Sigsbee Manderson is found dead on his estates, Philip Trent is asked by the editor of the Record to investigate the mysterious case. What caused Manderson to rise in the middle of the night and leave the house without properly dressing and without his false teeth? Who did he meet and why? Who was the murderer? Marlowe, his personal secretary? Brunner, his business assistant? Or his beautiful wife? Will Trent be able to solve the mystery? Or will this be Trent's Last Case?
- John Buchan: The Thirty-Nine Steps
(1915) - When Richard Hannay discovers a dead body in his apartment, he's dragged into a dark and dangerous world of global politics, secret societies, and undercover agents. Accused of murder and with the fate of the British fleet resting in his hands, Hannay must elude the police and foreign spies, decode a cryptic notebook, and convince the enigmatic Sir Walter Bullivant to believe his incredible tale.
- John Buchan: Greenmantle
(1916) - A classic tale of espionage and adventure, Richard Hannay, hero of The Thirty-Nine Steps, travels across war-torn Europe on the trail of a German plot and an Islamic Messiah. He is joined by three more of Buchan's heroes: Peter Pienaar, the old Boer scout; John S. Blenkiron, the American determined to fight the Kaiser; and Sandy Arbuthnot--Greenmantle himself--a character modeled on Lawrence of Arabia. Together they move in disguise through Germany to Constantinople and the Russian border in order to face their enemies: the grotesque Stumm and the evil femme fatale Hilda von Einem.
1920 to 1929
- Agatha Christie: The Murder of Roger Ackroyd
(1926) - The story begins with the death of Mrs. Ferrars, a wealthy widow who is rumoured to have murdered her husband. Her death is initially believed to be an accident until Roger Ackroyd, a widower who had been expected to marry Mrs. Ferrars, reveals that she admitted to killing her husband and then committed suicide. Shortly after this he is found murdered. The suspects include Mrs. Cecil Ackroyd, Roger's neurotic hypochondriac sister-in-law who has accumulated personal debts through extravagant spending; her daughter Flora; Major Blunt, a big-game hunter; Geoffrey Raymond, Ackroyd's personal secretary; Ralph Paton, Ackroyd's stepson and another person with heavy debts; Parker, a snooping butler; and Ursula Bourne, a parlor maid with an uncertain history who resigned her post the afternoon of the murder.
The initial suspect is Ralph, who is engaged to Flora and stands to inherit his stepfather's fortune. Several critical pieces of evidence seem to point to Ralph. Poirot, who has just moved to the town, begins to investigate at Flora's behest.
For more information about this author Click Here
- Dorothy L. Sayers: Clouds of Witness
(1927) - Rustic old Riddlesdale Lodge was a Wimsey family retreat filled with country pleasures and the thrill of the hunt -- until the game turned up human and quite dead. He lay among the chrysanthemums, wore slippers and a dinner jacket and was Lord Peter's brother-in-law-to-be. His accused murderer was Wimsey's own brother, and if murder set all in the family wasn't enough to boggle the unflappable Lord Wimsey, perhaps a few twists of fate would be -- a mysterious vanishing midnight letter from Egypt...a grieving fiancee with suitcase in hand...and a bullet destined for one very special Wimsey.
- W. Somerset Maugham: Ashenden
(1928) - A collection of stories featuring Ashenden--a writer drawn into the war through undercover intelligence--reflects the author's experiences in the Intelligence Department during World War I.
- Anthony Berkeley: The Poisoned Chocolates Case
(1929) - Sir Eustace is a cad with a specialty in other mens wives, and the list of people who might want to do him in could fill a London phone book. But which of them actually sent the chocolates with their nasty hidden payload?
- Dashiell Hammett: Red Harvest
(1929) - The Continental Op, hero of this mystery, is a cool, experienced employee of the Continental Detective Agency. Client Donald Wilson has been killed, and the Op must track down his murderer.
- W. R. Burnett: Little Caesar
(1929) - Cesare Bandello, known as Rico, is a "gutter Macbeth," a bad guy who claws his way up through the Chicago gang, circa 1928. There is nothing heroic about Rico. He is not dashing or even an especially talented man, except that he seems to have a laser-like focus on what he wants. That immediately sets him apart from the slovenly hoods who surround him. His rise above them is easy to imagine, but as the novel's title suggests, so is his fall.
Back to Best Selling Mystery Crime Fiction 1800 to 2019
Back to Mystery Crime Scene Home Page
MysteryCrimeScene.com All rights reserved
design and logo courtesy of
DigitalDesigns Designer Elliott Houston