Murder mysteries have long been a staple of literature, capturing the imagination of readers with their thrilling plots and intriguing characters. Over the years, many authors have contributed to the genre, each leaving behind their own unique mark on the literary landscape.
The Origins of the Murder Mystery Genre
The roots of the murder mystery genre can be traced back to the early 19th century. Edgar Allan Poe, often credited as the father of the modern detective story, wrote “The Murders in the Rue Morgue” in 1841. This short story introduced readers to the character of C. Auguste Dupin, a brilliant detective who used logic and deduction to solve crimes. Poe’s use of a detective as the protagonist of a story was a groundbreaking concept at the time, and set the stage for future mystery writers.
Other early mystery writers included Wilkie Collins, who wrote “The Moonstone” in 1868, and Arthur Conan Doyle, whose famed detective Sherlock Holmes first appeared in “A Study in Scarlet” in 1887. Holmes became an enduring character in the genre, and Doyle went on to write three more novels and 56 short stories featuring the detective.
The Birth of the Whodunit
One of the key elements of murder mysteries is the mystery itself. Specifically, the mystery of who committed the crime, referred to as the “whodunit.” In 1920, Agatha Christie published her first detective novel, “The Mysterious Affair at Styles,” introducing the world to her iconic detective, Hercule Poirot. Christie’s intricate plots and surprising twists set the standard for the whodunit, and influenced countless authors who followed in her footsteps.
Christie went on to write over 60 detective novels and is widely considered one of the most successful and influential mystery writers of all time. Her works continue to be adapted into films, television shows, and stage productions to this day.
Evolution of the Genre Over Time
The murder mystery genre has continued to evolve over time, incorporating different sub-genres and styles. From hard-boiled detective novels like Raymond Chandler’s “The Big Sleep” to cozy mysteries like M.C. Beaton’s “Agatha Raisin” series, there is no shortage of variety in the genre.
Furthermore, the rise of psychological thrillers and crime dramas in recent years has brought new attention to the genre. Shows like “True Detective” and “Mindhunter” have captivated audiences with their complex characters and intricate plotlines.
Despite the many changes the genre has undergone over the years, one thing remains constant: the enduring popularity of a good murder mystery. Whether it’s a classic whodunit or a gritty crime drama, there’s something about a well-crafted mystery that keeps readers and viewers coming back for more.
Criteria for Selecting the Best Selling Murder Mystery Books
There is no doubt that murder mystery books are one of the most popular genres in the world. Readers love the thrill of trying to solve the crime before the detective does, and the satisfaction of finally figuring out who the killer is. But what makes a murder mystery book truly great? There are many factors to consider when determining the best selling murder mystery books of all time. Sales figures, critical acclaim, and enduring influence are all important factors to take into account. Let’s explore each of these factors in more detail.
Sales Figures and Popularity
One of the most obvious ways to measure the success of a book is by its sales figures. The best selling murder mystery books of all time are those that have captured the attention of the masses and sold millions of copies over the years. Some of the most popular murder mystery books of all time include Agatha Christie’s “Murder on the Orient Express“, Arthur Conan Doyle’s “The Hound of the Baskervilles“, and Gillian Flynn’s “Gone Girl“. These books have sold millions of copies worldwide and have become cultural touchstones.
But why are these books so popular? Is it the intricate plots, the well-developed characters, or the suspenseful atmosphere? It’s likely a combination of all these factors and more. Readers are drawn to murder mystery books because they offer a thrilling escape from reality, allowing them to immerse themselves in a world of intrigue and danger.
Critical Acclaim and Awards
Another important factor to consider when selecting the best selling murder mystery books is critical acclaim. Books that have been praised by critics and received awards and recognition are often considered to be the cream of the crop. Some of the most critically acclaimed murder mystery books of all time include Raymond Chandler’s “The Big Sleep”, Daphne du Maurier’s “Rebecca“, and James Ellroy’s “The Black Dahlia“. These books have been praised for their literary merit, as well as their thrilling plots and memorable characters.
But critical acclaim isn’t the only measure of a book’s quality. Some murder mystery books have been panned by critics but have still managed to capture the public’s imagination. For example, Dan Brown’s “The Da Vinci Code” was widely criticized for its historical inaccuracies and mediocre writing, but it still managed to become one of the best selling books of all time.
Enduring Influence on the Genre
Finally, enduring influence is an important factor to take into account. Books that have had a lasting impact on the genre, influencing other authors and becoming cultural touchstones, are often considered to be the best of the best. For example, Agatha Christie’s “Murder on the Orient Express” not only sold millions of copies but also introduced readers to her iconic detective, Hercule Poirot. Poirot has since become one of the most beloved and recognizable characters in the murder mystery genre.
Similarly, Arthur Conan Doyle’s Sherlock Holmes stories not only popularized the detective genre but also introduced readers to the concept of forensic science. Today, forensic science plays a crucial role in solving real-life crimes, and it all started with Doyle’s fictional detective.
So, when selecting the best selling murder mystery books of all time, it’s important to consider a variety of factors. Sales figures, critical acclaim, and enduring influence are all important measures of a book’s quality and impact on the genre.
The Top 10 Best Selling Murder Mystery Books
Are you a fan of murder mystery books? Do you love the thrill of trying to solve a crime alongside your favorite detective or amateur sleuth? If so, then you’re in luck! In this article, we’ll be delving into the top 10 best selling murder mystery books of all time, in no particular order.
And Then There Were None by Agatha Christie
First published in 1939, “And Then There Were None” is considered to be Agatha Christie’s masterpiece. The book has sold over 100 million copies worldwide, making it one of the best selling books of all time. The story follows ten strangers who are lured to an island under false pretenses, only to find themselves being picked off one by one by an unknown killer. With its intricate plot and surprising twists, “And Then There Were None” remains a classic in the murder mystery genre.
The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo by Stieg Larsson
Stieg Larsson’s “The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo” became an instant sensation when it was first published in Sweden in 2005. The book has sold over 80 million copies worldwide and has been adapted into several films and television shows. The story follows journalist Mikael Blomkvist and hacker Lisbeth Salander as they investigate the disappearance of a wealthy industrialist’s niece. With its complex characters and gritty portrayal of violence against women, “The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo” is a gripping and thought-provoking read.
The Da Vinci Code by Dan Brown
Dan Brown’s “The Da Vinci Code” was a global phenomenon when it was first published in 2003. The book has sold over 80 million copies worldwide and has been adapted into a successful film starring Tom Hanks. The story follows symbologist Robert Langdon as he investigates a murder at the Louvre Museum in Paris, and uncovers a conspiracy involving the Catholic Church and the Holy Grail. With its blend of history, art, and suspense, “The Da Vinci Code” is a thrilling and thought-provoking read.
The Hound of the Baskervilles by Arthur Conan Doyle
First published in 1902, “The Hound of the Baskervilles” is one of Arthur Conan Doyle’s most famous works. The book has sold over 50 million copies worldwide and has been adapted into numerous films and television shows. The story follows detective Sherlock Holmes and his friend Dr. Watson as they investigate a curse that seems to be haunting the Baskerville family. With its atmospheric setting on the moors of Devonshire and its clever plot twists, “The Hound of the Baskervilles” is a classic in the murder mystery genre.
Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn
Gillian Flynn’s “Gone Girl” was a critical and commercial success when it was first published in 2012. The book has sold over 20 million copies worldwide and has been adapted into a hit film directed by David Fincher. The story follows Nick Dunne as he becomes the prime suspect in the disappearance of his wife Amy. With its unreliable narrators and shocking plot twists, “Gone Girl” is a page-turner that will keep you guessing until the very end.
The Silence of the Lambs by Thomas Harris
Thomas Harris’s “The Silence of the Lambs” was first published in 1988 and quickly became a phenomenon. The book has sold over 15 million copies worldwide and has been adapted into an iconic film starring Jodie Foster and Anthony Hopkins. The story follows FBI trainee Clarice Starling as she seeks the help of incarcerated cannibalistic serial killer Dr. Hannibal Lecter in catching another serial killer known as “Buffalo Bill.” With its unforgettable characters and chilling atmosphere, “The Silence of the Lambs” is a must-read for any murder mystery fan.
The No. 1 Ladies’ Detective Agency by Alexander McCall Smith
First published in 1998, “The No. 1 Ladies’ Detective Agency” is the first book in a popular series by Alexander McCall Smith. The series has sold over 20 million copies worldwide and has been adapted into a successful television show. The story follows Precious Ramotswe, the first female detective in Botswana, as she solves a variety of cases with her wit, intelligence, and compassion. With its charming setting and lovable characters, “The No. 1 Ladies’ Detective Agency” is a cozy murder mystery that will warm your heart.
The Cuckoo’s Calling by Robert Galbraith (J.K. Rowling)
When J.K. Rowling published “The Cuckoo’s Calling” under the pseudonym Robert Galbraith in 2013, it quickly became a bestseller. The book has sold over 1 million copies worldwide and has been adapted into a popular television show. The story follows private investigator Cormoran Strike as he investigates the death of a supermodel, and uncovers a web of secrets and lies in the fashion industry. With its engaging characters and intricate plot, “The Cuckoo’s Calling” is a compelling read.
The Maltese Falcon by Dashiell Hammett
First published in 1930, “The Maltese Falcon” is one of the most famous hard-boiled detective novels of all time. The book has sold over 4 million copies worldwide and has been adapted into several films over the years. The story follows private detective Sam Spade as he investigates the theft of a valuable statue, and gets caught up in a web of deceit and betrayal. With its tough-talking characters and gritty portrayal of 1930s San Francisco, “The Maltese Falcon” is a classic in the murder mystery genre.
Big Little Lies by Liane Moriarty
Liane Moriarty’s “Big Little Lies” was a critical and commercial success when it was first published in 2014. The book has sold over 2 million copies worldwide and has been adapted into a hit television show starring Reese Witherspoon and Nicole Kidman. The story follows three women in a wealthy coastal town as their seemingly perfect lives unravel in the aftermath of a murder. With its sharp social commentary and engaging characters, “Big Little Lies” is a murder mystery with a twist.
So there you have it, the top 10 best selling murder mystery books of all time. Whether you’re a fan of classic whodunits or more modern psychological thrillers, there’s no denying the enduring popularity of this beloved genre. So grab a cup of tea, curl up on the couch, and get ready for a thrilling ride!
Are all murder mystery books thrillers?
No – a broad variety of narratives and writing styles come under the umbrella term ‘murder mystery’. While Gillian Flynn’s Gone Girl is undoubtedly a thriller, Richard Osman’s The Thursday Murder Club is a cozy mystery with a slower pace and a lighter tone.
What defines a ‘bestseller’?
To get on The New York Times bestseller list, 5,000 copies of a book must be sold during a one-week period.
Are Agatha Christie’s novels worth reading?
Yes – Agatha Christie is a staple of the murder mystery genre. Her plots are gripping and filled with both thrills and humor.