Elements of Crime Writing: Reading List

Hi all.

I’m in the process of putting together a reading list for the ‘Elements of Crime Writing’ exam. As with any literary genre, the list of recommended reading could go on and on. We are not suggesting that you read everything on this list. That would be ridiculous. We are, however, advising you to familiarise yourself with at least one text from each section (not including your set text, obviously). Know what it is about. Dip into it. If you particularly like it, read more. Gradually, you should build up an increasingly detailed and comprehensive understanding of the different types of crime writing that make up this very varied and wide-ranging genre.

Happy half term reading!

Classical Literature

Sophocles, Oedipus Rex

Aristophanes, Lysistrata

Old English and Medieval Quest Narratives


Sir Gawain and the Green Knight

Chaucer, The Canterbury Tales (Namely, those of the Pardoner, Miller, Reeve and Wife of Bath)

Early Crime Narratives

The Newgate Calendar

Renaissance Tragedy

Shakespeare, Othello, King Lear, Titus Andronicus, Hamlet


Milton, Paradise Lost

Samuel Taylor Coleridge, The Rime of the Ancient Mariner*

George Crabbe, Peter Grimes

Robert Browning, My Last Duchess, The Laboratory, Porphyria’s Lover

Oscar Wilde, The Ballad of Reading Gaol


Henry Fielding, Jonathan Wild

Daniel Defoe, Moll Flanders

William Godwin, Caleb Williams

Ann Radcliffe, The Mysteries of Udolpho, The Romance of the Forest

Mary Shelley, Frankenstein

Charlotte Bronte, Jane Eyre

Emile Bronte, Wuthering Heights

Charles Reade, It is Never too Late to Mend

Charles Dickens, Oliver Twist, Nicholas Nickelby, The Mystery of Edwin Drood

Wilkie Collins, The Woman in White, No Name, Armadale, The Moonstone

Mrs Henry Wood, East Lynne

Mary Elizabeth Braddon, Lady Audley’s Secret, Aurora Floyd

Bram Stoker, Dracula

Robert Louis Stevenson, The Strange Case of Dr Jekyl and Mr Hyde

Oscar Wilde, The Picture of Dorian Gray

Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, Sherlock Holmes series

G. K. Chesterton, Father Brown series

Modern Drama

August Strindberg, Miss Julie

Ibsen, Hedda Gabler, A Doll’s House

George Bernard Shaw, Saint Joan, Major Barbara

J B Priestley, An Inspector Calls

Sean O’Casey, Juno and the Paycock, The Shadow of a Gunman

Brian Friel, Translations

The 20th Century and Beyond

Ian McEwan, The Innocent, Saturday, Amsterdam, Atonement*

Agatha Christie, The Murder of Roger Ackroyd

Peter Ackroyd, Hawksmoor

Paul Auster, City of Glass, Ghosts, The Locked Room

Brian Moore, Lies of Silence

Anthony Burgess, A Clockwork Orange

Graham Greene, Brighton Rock*

Kate Atkinson, When Will There Be Good News?

* set text for 2017 examination

One of my personal faves.

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