Mystery books have always held a fascination for the reading public. They fall into many sub-categories such as murder, legal, police procedural and many others. But wherever there is a question of whodunit and good story behind it, you can be sure that the book will be devoured by the mystery book fans.
Here is a list of the best-selling mystery writers of all times. You may not feel that they are the best writers, but their popularity is unmistakable and for some, even posthumously their books continue to entice readers.
1. Georges Simenon:
The creator of Inspector Maigret was a prolific writer and wrote over 500 books. He is considered to be the forerunner of the police detective genre of books. His books followed the simple formula of murder, investigations, clues and the arrest of the murderer. Simply written and set in Paris, the books have remained ever popular, even 80 years after the first book was published.
2. Agatha Christie:
The Guiness Book of Records lists her as the bestselling book writer of all times, with over four billion copies of her books having been published worldwide. Her mystery novels were never too long,. The stories were superb and the characterization of her detectives such Hercules Poirot and Miss Marple was very well done. She wrote about 80 detective novels, and some plays and also some romantic novels under the pseudonym Mary Westmacott.
3. Arthur Conan Doyle:
Sherlock Holmes’s deductive and reasoning abilities have astonished readers for many decades. Sir Arthur Conan Doyle gave us a series of mysteries which have enchanted and confounded us. He also wrote science fiction book, plays, poetry, non-fiction books and some historical novels, but he is best remembered for his series of books with Holmes as their central character, accompanied by Watson.
4. Ellery Queen:
The first book written by two friends under this pseudonym was released in 1934, and over eight decades later his books are still very popular. They have instituted a much coveted mystery writer’s award in his name. The books are excellent whodunit mysteries and they are very elegantly crafted and intellectually challenging.
5. Erle Stanley Gardner:
He sold over 100 million books, and his lawyer Perry mason became the bane of most practising lawyers in the US. Every litigant began to expect his lawyer to eventually solve all crimes and find the right killer. Clever legal systems, fast action and good mystery stories are what marked this prolific and best selling writer.
6. John Le Carre:
Many believe him to be the best mystery writer of all times. His books cannot really be classified as mysteries since they were more concerned with inter personal relations, corporate wrangles and above all the relationships between the governments of countries. A brilliant writer, his books are superbly crafted and written with immense grace and style.
7. Ian Fleming:
The creator of James Bond, his books flew off the shelves as soon as they were released. He sold over 100 million copies of his books, and even though now the films about his main protagonist have become more popular, for a long time he was one of the best selling mystery writers.
8. Rex Stout:
Nero Wolfe is one of America’s best known and idiosyncratic detectives. Created by Rex Stout, this overly large, indulgent detective has been very well-liked by mystery readers of all generations. An armchair detective of the first order Nero Wolfe’s stories are narrated by his friend and assistant Archie Goodwin. Rex Stout combined snappy dialogue with intriguing stories and presented us with a series which have remained on the best selling lists for years.
9. Mickey Spillane:
Seven of the fifty bestselling books in America were written by Mickey Spillane. This in itself is a manifestation of his popularity. His detective Mike Hammer made his first appearance in the book, I, the Jury. This book by itself sold over six and half million copies in the US. Many other books followed, and though none of them achieved the success of the first one, they still succeeded in making him one of the bestselling authors of all times.
10. John Grisham:
Technically, he cannot be termed as a mystery writer, but his books do have legal mysteries embedded within them. With over 250 million sales worldwide, his books have been translated into 29 languages worldwide. Each new book is greeted with immense fanfare and acclaim, and he is only one of two authors whose book has sold two million copies at its first printing.