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Your Top 20 Literary Detectives

Whodunnits and Crime Fiction are two genres that seem to generate a lot of series; people become invested in a particular detective character and will follow an author through decades of literary adventures when following the life of a particular detective.

Over on our Facebook page we asked our followers for their favourite Literary Detective or Detective series. These are the results.

Sherlock Holmes – Arthur Conan Doyle

The quintessentially eccentric English Gentleman Detective was your top choice and a worthy one at that.

The Complete Sherlock US
The Complete Sherlock UK

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Hercule Poirot – Agatha Christie

He of the perfect coiffed moustache, Hercule ran Sherlock a very close second.

Hercule Poirot US
Hercule Poirot UK

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Nancy Drew – Various

Teenaged sleuth Nancy has been entertaining readers for decades, her books spanned seven decades and were written by several authors with Harriet S Adams penning the majority.

Nancy Drew US
Nancy Drew UK

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Cormoran Strike – Robert Galbraith

Eerybody knows that Galbraith is the pseudonym of J.K Rowling by now, however Cormoran’s initial success proved that J.K is definitely not a one trick pony and Cormoran is a deserving fourth place in our poll.

The Cuckoo’s Calling US
The Cuckoo’s Calling UK

Review of Cuckoo’s Calling

Harry Dresden – Jim Butcher

A PI who also happens to be a wizard? No wonder these come so highly recommended by our followers.

The Dresden Files US
The Dresden Files UK

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The Literary Gift Company

Eve Dallas – J.D Robb

Eve and her husband Roarke are the main protagonists of Nora RobertsIn Death series which she writes under the pen name of J.D Robb

Naked In Death US
Naked In Death UK

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Inspector Rebus – Ian Rankin

A series of 20 novels featuring Inspector Rebus, a hard hitting Scots detective is your 7th placed choice in our poll.

Knots and Crosses US
Knots and Crosses UK

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Precious Ramotswe – Alexander McCall Smith

Perhaps not Precious as such but you all love her No1 Ladies’ Detective Agency and voted her into eighth place.

The No. 1 Ladies’ Detective Agency US
The No. 1 Ladies’ Detective Agency UK

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Kurt Wallander – Henning Mankell

The protagonist of several mystery novels, set in and around the town of Ystad Wallander just squeaks into our top ten. Sadly Henning passed away in 2015 so there will be no further Wallander novels.

Wallander 1 US
Wallander 1 UK

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Harry Bosch – Michael Connelly

The protagonist of a 20 book series Harry Bosch is our final Detective to reach our top ten featured list.

The Black Echo US
The Black Echo UK

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Here are the next ten in our list of favourite Literary Detectives.

Spenser – Robert Parker
Kay Scarpetta – Patricia Cornwell
Miss Marple – Agatha Christie
Inspector Linley – Elizabeth George
Alex Cross – James Patterson
Maigrait – Georges Simenon
Bernie Gunther – Philip Kerr
Philip Marlowe – Raymond Chandler
Aloysius Pendergast – Douglas Preston & Lincoln Child
Jane Rizzoli –  Tess Gerritsen

There are enough Detectives, Murder Mysteries and Whodunnits there to keep even the most avid reader busy for a long time. Did your favourite Literary Detective make the top twenty?

Leave your vote


  • Ian Carmichael says:

    No Father Brown? Great fun with Chesterton driving the story!

    No proof reader? Who is Maigrait on this page? Yes, it is Maigret.

    And, if we’re going children’s stories, the Famous Five should get a guernsey, if not a blazer!

  • alan carter says:

    No Easy Rawlins??? Disgraceful, he is the hottest detective now.

  • Jill O'Carroll says:

    So, what about Malcolm Fox and Roderick Alleyn ( maybe wrong spelling, Ngaio Marsh) .

  • karen richard says:

    and no Montalbano. Sigh.


    Is anything non-english allowed?
    its BYOMKESH BAKSHI in Bengali, situated in 1940s to 1960s India.

  • Cindy says:

    Thomas and Charlotte Pitt (Anne Perry), Mrs. Pollifax (Dorothy Gilman), Richard Jury (Martha Grimes), Rabbi Small (Harry Kemelman), and Brother Cadfael (Ellis Peters) to name a few more.

  • Steve Thomas says:

    Where’s Sam Spade, or the Continental detective, or Nick & Nora Charles? Where’s Philo Vance? I can go along with Cormoran Strike as a new favorite, but Nancy Drew? Why not the Hardy Boys? If we’re going to list primarily English writers, where is P.D. James’s Adam Dalgliesh? For my money this list should be reversed and several more names added. And while I’m at it, I have to say the Paul Drake may have been more criminal than detective (at least in Earl Stanley Gardner’s books) but without his skills as a detective Perry Mason would’ve been little more than an ambulance chaser. I know everyone has different tastes when it comes to a favorite genre and writers within genre, but I think, perhaps, some of your readers are a tad too parochial in their choice of reading material.

  • E Coleman says:

    Peter Wimsey. Armand Gamache. Miss Marple.

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