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The 5 Best Stand Alone Detective Novels


There are so many fantastic detective novels that it's difficult to choose a list of favorites.

I've tried to identify the ones that have truly become staples of the crime fiction genre.


So here we go...



"The murderer is with us - on the train now..."

Just after midnight, the famous Orient Express is stopped in its tracks by a snowdrift. By morning, the millionaire Samuel Edward Ratchett lies dead in his compartment, stabbed a dozen times, his door locked from the inside. One of his fellow passengers must be the murderer.

Isolated by the storm, detective Hercule Poirot must find the killer among a dozen of the dead man's enemies, before the murderer decides to strike again....




 




A country doctor has come to 221B Baker Street, the lodgings of famed detective Sherlock Holmes, with the eerie tale of the Hound of the Baskervilles. The legend warns the descendants of the Baskerville family never to venture out on the moors that surround their ancestral home, for fear that they will meet the devil-beast that lurks there.


Such a story sounds preposterous to any man of reason, but now Sir Charles Baskerville is dead—and the footprints of a giant hound have been found near his body. Sherlock Holmes and his faithful friend Dr. John Watson agree to investigate the truth of the matter. They will soon learn that in this case, nothing is quite as it seems....


The most famous of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s Sherlock Holmes stories, The Hound of the Baskervilles is a classic of masterful detection and hair-raising suspense.




 


The Maltese Falcon is a 1930 detective novel by American writer Dashiell Hammett, originally serialized in the magazine Black Mask beginning with the September 1929 issue. The story is told entirely in external third-person narrative; there is no description whatsoever of any character's thoughts or feelings, only what they say and do, and how they look. The novel has been adapted several times for the cinema. The main character, Sam Spade (who also appeared later in some lesser-known short stories), was a departure from Hammett's nameless detective, The Continental Op. Spade combined several features of previous detectives, notably his cold detachment, keen eye for detail, unflinching and sometimes ruthless determination to achieve his own form of justice, and a complete lack of sentimentality. In 1990 the novel ranked 10th in Top 100 Crime Novels of All Time list by the Crime Writer's Association. Five years later, in a similar list by Mystery Writers of America, the novel was ranked third.






 



The Big Sleep (1939) is a hardboiled crime novel by Raymond Chandler, the first in his acclaimed series about detective Philip Marlowe. The work has been adapted twice into film, once in 1946 and again in 1978.

The story is noted for its complexity, with many characters double-crossing each other and many secrets being exposed throughout the narrative. The title is a euphemism for death; it refers to a rumination in the book about "sleeping the big sleep".






 



The year is 1327. Benedictines in a wealthy Italian abbey are suspected of heresy, and Brother William of Baskerville arrives to investigate. When his delicate mission is suddenly overshadowed by seven bizarre deaths, Brother William turns detective. His tools are the logic of Aristotle, the theology of Aquinas, the empirical insights of Roger Bacon — all sharpened to a glistening edge by wry humor and a ferocious curiosity. He collects evidence, deciphers secret symbols and coded manuscripts, and digs into the eerie labyrinth of the abbey, where “the most interesting things happen at night.”

“Like the labyrinthine library at its heart, this brilliant novel has many cunning passages and secret chambers . . . Fascinating . . . ingenious . . . dazzling.” —Newsweek





 


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