Here at Female First we love to highlight the achievements of women in male-dominated worlds. In this case, we're looking at some of the greatest female crime writers of all time, with enough grit and spine-chilling plot points to keep you awake at night.

Books on Female First

Books on Female First

1. Dame Agatha Christie

Best work: And Then There Were None

It goes without saying that the 20th century British mystery writer is one of the greatest authors in history, and probably THE greatest in the crime genre thanks to her succinct tales of the exploits of Hercule Poirot and Miss Marple. In fact, she is actually the best-selling novelist of all time with her works being the third most widely published books, after Shakespeare's works and the Bible. That's quite a legacy.

2. Val McDermid

Best work: The Mermaids Singing

Best known for her series of novels featuring clinical psychologist Dr. Tony Hill, this Scottish writer had her graphic stories adapted for television in the form of Wire in the Blood starring Robson Green. The first of the book series (and indeed the first episode of the TV series) was The Mermaids Singing which won the Crime Writers' Association Gold Dagger for Best Crime Novel of the Year in 1995.

3. Ann Cleeves

Best work: Raven Black

If you haven't heard of her, you'll at least have heard of the award-winning series Vera and Shetland. Both shows are based on her Vera Stanhope and Jimmy Perez set of novels respectively, with Raven Black being the Gold Dagger Award-winning first of the latter. She also wrote a series of novels starring the character Inspector Ramsay as well as Palmer-Jones.

4. Caroline Graham

Best work: The Killings at Badger's Drift

Midsomer Murders is one of the longest running crime shows in the UK, but did you know it was based on Caroline Graham's Chief Inspector Barnaby book series? The first was The Killings at Badger's Drift published in 1988 which won Macavity Award, Anthony Award and Agatha Award for Best First Novel.

5. Lynda La Plante

Best work: Prime Suspect

While she is an author of novels, Lynda La Plante is actually better recognised for writing the crime series Widows and Prime Suspect. She released her critically-acclaimed debut novel The Legacy in 1987 which became a best-selling success, along with her subsequent works The Talisman, Bella Mafia and Entwined.

6. Ruth Rendell

Best work: From Doon with Death

Most people know Ruth Rendell (aka Baroness Rendell of Babergh) for her character Chief Inspector Wexford, who appeared in 24 of her novels starting with 1964's From Doon with Death, and many of which were adapted for the TV series The Ruth Rendell Mysteries. She also wrote a number of award-winning standalone novels, including a number under the pseudonym Barbara Vine.

7. Patricia Highsmith

Best work: The Talented Mr. Ripley

Just so you know we're not biased towards strictly British crime writers, Patricia Highsmith was an American author best known for her Ripliad series of psychological thrillers beginning with 1955's The Talented Mr. Ripley which was later adapted into a BAFTA winning film starring Matt Damon, Gwyneth Paltrow, Jude Law and Cate Blanchett. She also wrote the novel Strangers on a Train which was famously adapted by Alfred Hitchcock in 1951.

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