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5 Most Underappreciated Crime Writers

The thrilling tales of these killer crime writers deserve a top spot on your must-read list.

underappreciated crime writers

Looking for your next thrilling read? While these writers may not be as instantly recognizable as other names in the mystery and thriller game, their works deserve a spot on your must-read list. From rural noir masters to queens of detective fiction, meet five underappreciated authors with killer stories to tell.

1. Christianna Brand

Green for Danger

Green for Danger

By Christianna Brand

A true competitor to Agatha Christie and Dorothy L. Sayers in the late Golden Age of the British fair-play school of detective fiction, Inspector Cockrill’s too-few cases are masterpieces of pure detection.

NEXT-TO-READ: Fog of Doubt.

2. K.C. Constantine

underappreciated crime writers

The Man Who Liked Slow Tomatoes

By K.C. Constantine

The creator of police chief Mario Balzic etched a portrait of a dying town in the coal district of Pennsylvania that touches the soul. His blue collar characters—protagonist, victim, killer, suspect—are all presented with empathetic humanity.

NEXT-TO-READ: Joey's Case.

3. Stephen Solomita

A Twist of the Knife

A Twist of the Knife

By Stephen Solomita

Tough New Yorkers are trapped in situations beyond their coping abilities in many of these searing novels. Private investigator Stanley Moodrow works in the darkness—the darkness of the late-night streets and the darkness of the human heart.

NEXT-TO-READ: Damaged Goods.

4. Daniel Woodrell

underappreciated crime writers

Winter's Bone

By Daniel Woodrell

Even though two films (Winter's Bone and Ride with the Devil) have been made from his books, and he is the founder and master of “rural noir,” far too few readers have found his books. He’s still writing and winning awards but he deserves a place on the next best-seller list.

NEXT-TO-READ: Tomato Red.

5. Brendan DuBois

underappreciated crime writers

Final Winter

By Brendan DuBois

Equally adept at novels and short stories, his range may have hurt his chance for a greater following, moving from pure detection to crime stories to giant thrillers, all with exceptional skill. DuBois’ short story “The Dark Snow” was selected as one of the best stories of the century.


Otto Penzler is the founder of the Mysterious Press (1975), a distinguished publisher of literary crime fiction whose imprint is now associated with Grove/Atlantic, Mysterious Press.com (2011), an electronic-book publishing company associated with Open Road Integrated Media, and New York City’s Mysterious Bookshop (1979). He has won two Edgars, for the Encyclopedia of Mystery and Detection (1977) and The Lineup (2010). He has edited more than 50 anthologies and written extensively about mystery fiction.

Featured photo: Mysterious Press