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The 66 Greatest Crime and Mystery Stories

For much of the history of crime and mystery publishing, the short story ruled. In the pulps era, readers got their weekly fix of murder and mayhem from the dozens of periodicals that filled magazine racks. Those publications specializing in crime and detective fiction have all but disappeared. But writers are still seeing their work published in the few magazines that still run such stories, as well as in hardcover or paperback collections of their works and in third-party anthologies.

This list focuses on the greatest stand-alone stories of crime and mystery, separate from the Greatest Crime and Mystery list, which is dominated by the longer forms.

For this list we define a short story as having fewer than 17,500 words—longer prose being categorized as a novella or a novel. Roughly, you can think of a short story as a prose narrative you can read in an hour or less.

You can expect the Greatest Crime and Mystery Stories to grow and change as our greatest literature research continues. Check back for updates.

Latest update: July 8, 2023

1830
The Mysterious Mansion
Honoré de Balzac
France, story
1843
The Gold Bug
United States, story
1844
United States, story
1865
The Trial for Murder
England, story
1880
The Pavilion on the Links
Scotland, story
1881
Who Killed Zebedee?
England, story
1882
The Knightsbridge Mystery
Charles Reade
England, story
1883
The Three Strangers
Thomas Hardy
England, story
1884
The Safety Match
Anton Chekhov
Russia, story
1887
Lord Savile's Crime
Oscar Wilde
Ireland, story
1888
The Ides of March
E.W. Hornung
England, story
1905
The Problem of Cell 13
Jacques Futrelle
United States, story
1906
The Mystery of the Five Hundred Diamonds
Robert Barr
England, story
1911
The Invisible Man
England, story
1914
The Doomdorf Mystery
Melville Davisson Post
United States, story
1916
My Favorite Murder
Ambrose Bierce
United States, story
1917
A Jury of Her Peers
Susan Glaspell
United States, story
1923
The Oracle of the Dog
G.K. Chesterton
England, story
1925
The Witness for the Prosecution
England, story
1926
Locked Doors
Mary Roberts Rinehart
United States, story
1927
The Trumpet Sounds
Mary Roberts Rinehart
United States, story
1928
The Avenging Chance
Anthony Berkeley
England, story
1931
Thomas Burke
England, story
1934
Accident
England, story
1935
The Baby in the Icebox
United States, story
1938
Red Wind
United States, story
 
Leg Man
Erle Stanley Gardner
United States, story
1939
Bitter Almonds
Dorothy L. Sayers
England, story
1939
I'll Be Waiting
United States, story
1942
Rear Window
Cornell Woolrich
United States, story
1947
Inspector Maigret Deduces
Georges Simenon
Belgium, story
 
Don't Look Behind You
Fredric Brown
United States, story
 
The House in Goblin Wood
John Dickson Carr
United States, story
 
The Nine Mile Walk
Harry Kemelman
United States, story
1948
The Specialty of the House
Stanley Ellin
United States, story
1950
Love Lies Bleeding
Philip MacDonald
England, story
 
Diagnosis: Homicide
Lawrence Blochman
United States, story
1952
The Two Bottles of Relish
Lord Dunsany
Ireland, story
1953
Lamb to the Slaughter
Roald Dahl
Wales, story
1954
The House Party
Stanley Ellin
United States, story
1956
The Blessington Method
Stanley Ellin
United States, story
1959
The Landlady
Roald Dahl
Wales, story
1965
The Possibility of Evil
Shirley Jackson
United States, story
1967
The Oblong Room
Edward D. Hoch
United States, story
1974
The Fallen Curtain
Ruth Rendell
England, story
1976
Sweet Fever
Bill Pronzini
United States, story
1983
The New Girlfriend
Ruth Rendell
England, story
1984
By Dawn's Early Light
Lawrence Block
England, story
1986
The Parker Shotgun
Sue Grafton
United States, story
1989
Too Many Crooks
Donald E. Westlake
United States, story
1990
Elvis Lives
Lynne Barrett
United States, story
1994
The Dancing Bear
Doug Allyn
United States, story
1996
Herbert in Motion
Ian Rankin
Scotland, story
1997
On the Psychiatrist's Couch
Reginald Hill
England, story
2000
Missing in Action
Peter Robinson
Canada, story
2006
The Home Front
Charles Ardai
United States, story
2013
The Caxton Private Lending Library and Book Depository
John Connolly
Ireland, story