1. The Hound of the Baskervilles by Arthur Conan Doyle
Who can resist Sherlock Holmes and Dr. Watson on one of their most extraordinary cases ever to challenge them? Rumors of a legendary hound that haunts the Baskerville family lead them to ask Holmes and Watson to protect Sir Charles Baskerville’s only heir. It is on the moors surrounding the Baskerville mansion they come face to face with a terrifying evil.
2. The Murder of Roger Ackroyd by Agatha Christie
The Murder of Roger Ackroyd set Agatha Christie up as a bestselling whodunit author. It’s about a widow who commits suicide and who was having a secret affair with wealthy Roger Ackroyd. When Ackroyd is found murdered in his locked study, Hercule Poirot is called in to solve the case. And he has plenty of guilty suspects crawling around the place.
3. The Godfather by Mario Puzo
The Corleones are the first family of the American mafia, and The Godfather details their powerful legacy of tradition, blood, and honor. Allegiance to the family as well as greed and power fuel every decision made. An epic story of crime and betrayal, this book uncovers the underbelly of the mafia’s violent subculture and places the reader right in the middle.
4. The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo by Stieg Larsson
Harriet Vanger, a young woman from a wealthy Swedish family, disappears in mysterious circumstances. Forty years later, her uncle hires Michael Blomkvist and Lisbeth Salander to uncover the truth of what happened. Blomkvist, a crusading journalist, and Salander, a 24-year-old tattooed and pierced hacker genius, discover a line of iniquity running through the Vanger family and astonishing corruption in Swedish industrialism.
5. Rebecca by Daphne Du Maurier
Maxim de Winter, a dashing widower, sweeps a young lady’s maid off her feet and takes her home to his massive country estate. It is there she realizes just how much a part his late wife still plays in life at the estate. She is a lingering evil that threatens to destroy the couple’s new marriage from beyond the grave.
6. The Lovely Bones By Alice Sebold
Susie Salmon, the teenage victim of a gruesome murder, describes what happened the day she was murdered, but she’s in heaven watching her family struggle with the aftermath of not knowing what actually happened to her. So what the readers know, the family doesn’t, which makes this a tense read that Sebold covers with amazing and compelling grace.
7. The Big Sleep by Raymond Chandler
The first in the Philip Marlowe series, The Big Sleep introduces Marlowe, a private eye and an educated, heroic, streetwise, rugged individualist that epitomizes the hard-boiled detective. Marlowe is hired by General Sternwood to deal with the blackmailer of his young daughter Carmen. This is just the tip of the iceberg uncovered by Marlowe’s investigation.
8. Strangers on a Train by Patricia Highsmith
Highsmith introduces two passengers on the same train: Guy Haines, a successful architect amid a divorce, and Charles Anthony Bruno, a sadistic psychopath who manipulates Guy into swapping murders with him. Bruno wants his father dead, and he suggests that Haines’ wife should be too. He says, “Some people are better off dead, like your wife and my father, for instance.”
9. The Name of the Rose by Umberto Eco
Brother William is brought in to investigate the monks of a wealthy Italian abbey suspected of heresy. Seven bizarre deaths occur, and Brother William turns his sights to a murder investigation. He collects evidence, deciphers secret symbols and coded manuscripts, and finds out “the most interesting things happen at night.”
10. Red Dragon by Thomas Harris
The first in the Hannibal Lecter series, Red Dragon introduces Will Graham, the greatest FBI profiler, who still has physical and mental scars from capturing Hannibal Lecter, which threw him into early retirement. He comes out of retirement to help the FBI find The Tooth Fairy serial killer and ends up turning to Hannibal Lector for help.