The best old-school crime fiction novels that stood the test of time

Deon Meyer Author Of The Dark Flood: A Benny Griessel Novel
By Deon Meyer

Who am I?

I’m a South African crime fiction author. My books are published in 27 languages in more than 40 countries worldwide. Two of my books were turned into international TV series. Accolades for my books include Le Grand Prix de Littérature Policière from France, the Deutsche Krimi Preis, the Swedish Martin Beck Award, and the Barry Award for Best Thriller in the USA.

I wrote...

The Dark Flood: A Benny Griessel Novel

By Deon Meyer, K.L. Seegers (translator),

Book cover of The Dark Flood: A Benny Griessel Novel

What is my book about?

One last chance. Almost fired for insubordination, detectives Benny Griessel and Vaughn Cupido find themselves demoted, exiled from the elite Hawks unit and dispatched to the leafy streets of Stellenbosch. Working a missing persons report on student Callie de Bruin is not the level of work they are used to, but it’s all they get. And soon, it takes a dangerous, deeply disturbing turn.

Stellenbosch is beautiful, but its economy has been ruined by one man. Jasper Boonstra and his gigantic corporate fraud have crashed the local property market, just when estate agent Sandra Steenberg desperately needs a big sale. Bringing up twins and supporting her academic husband, she is facing disaster. Then she gets a call from Jasper Boonstra, fraudster, sexual predator and owner of a superb property worth millions.

The books I picked & why

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Ten Plus One

By Ed McBain,

Book cover of Ten Plus One

Why this book?

The late, great Ed McBain inspired a whole generation of crime fiction authors (including me) and influenced television too. Hill Street Blues was based on his character-driven novels and changed cop shows forever.

Ten Plus One is just one of the many in the 87th Precinct series, and as close to the perfect crime fiction novel that a mere mortal can get.

The Deep Blue Good-By

By John D. MacDonald,

Book cover of The Deep Blue Good-By

Why this book?

I read this, the first in MacDonald’s Travis McGee series, as a teenager, and have been hooked on the series ever since. It was the characterization that did it. McGee is a loose-limbed, laid-back knight in dented armor, living on a houseboat called The Busted Flush (yes, he won it in a poker game) in Fort Lauderdale.

He even inspired the legendary Lee Child’s Jack Reacher.

Early Autumn

By Robert B. Parker,

Book cover of Early Autumn

Why this book?

When I think about the interaction of my own two detectives, Benny Griessel and Vaughn Cupido, I know Parker’s influence is still present. The banter between his iconic private eyes Spenser and Hawk is some of the very best dialogue you will find in crime fiction. He also had the wonderful ability to make even minor characters three-dimensional and interesting.

The Anderson Tapes

By Lawrence Sanders,

Book cover of The Anderson Tapes

Why this book?

Sanders’ protagonist, the delightful New York Police Department Captain Edward X. Delaney, had the wonderful habit of building delicious sandwiches that he ate over the kitchen basin. From him, I learnt that crime fiction characters can be quirky. And what they ate said as much about them as what they said.


By Gregory McDonald,

Book cover of Fletch

Why this book?

Who said crime fiction couldn’t be hilarious? McDonald created the former Marine turned investigative reporter Irwin Maurice "Fletch" Fletcher in 1974, and eventually wrote nine novels in the series. Fletch and the second, Confess, Fletch, was the only time a novel and its sequel won back-to-back Edgars. 

In 1985, Fletch was adapted into a movie with Chevy Chase in the title role.

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