These stories feature criminals or contain a crime as an important part of the plot.
See also Murder
A Retrieved Reformation | O. Henry
A safe cracker who’s going straight is faced with a dilemma which could expose his culpability for several unsolved crimes.
Wish You Were Here | Frank Jones
A woman buys an unusual garden gnome, but it disappears soon after and she gets postcards that are signed from the gnome.
The Green Leaves | Grace Ogot
African villagers look for a group of cattle thieves. One of the villagers tries to steal from one of the dead thieves.
The Sentimentalists | Morley Callaghan
Two young men in a department store notice three young women being watched by the store detective. They bet on which one is really the thief.
The Parsley Garden | William Saroyan
A boy, Al, is humiliated after being caught shoplifting. He’s determined to regain his self-respect.
A Television Drama | Jane Rule
Carolee is at home when she hears police sirens. She looks out the window at the commotion: neighbors, police on their radios and later, a bleeding young man.
The Crooked Man | Arthur Conan Doyle
Colonel James Barkley is found dead in his home, and his wife, Nancy, is the prime suspect. Holmes is called to investigate.
The Hiding of Black Bill | O. Henry
A traveler is hired to herd sheep on a ranch. He and the owner talk about a robber, Black Bill, who’s being tracked in the area.
Clean Sweep Ignatius | Jeffrey Archer
The new Nigerian Financial Minister, Ignatius, sets his sights on eliminating all corruption. He does so well that the President gives him the special task of uncovering all Nigerians who are keeping their bribe money in Swiss accounts.
Read here (Page 9)
The Hitch-Hiker | Roald Dahl
A man picks up a hitch-hiker and asks him about his work, but the hitch-hiker only reveals that he’s in a skilled trade. After talking about how fast the car can go, the driver accelerates, only to be pulled over by the police. He is very worried, but the hitch-hiker isn’t.
A Lodging for the Night | Robert Louis Stevenson
On a cold snowy night, a group of thieves are gathered in a small house, writing and gambling. Things suddenly take a violent turn.
The Judge’s Wife | Isabel Allende
Nicolas Vidal is the leader of a band of desperadoes and a wanted man. Judge Hidalgo sets a trap for Nicolas that has unexpected consequences, bringing their rivalry to a head.
After Twenty Years | O. Henry
A policeman makes his rounds, checking that business doors are secured for the night, when he sees a man waiting in an entrance way. The man explains that he and a friend made arrangements twenty years ago to meet there that night.
Oil of Dog | Ambrose Bierce
The narrator tells the story of his parents. His father manufactured dog oil and his mother disposed of unwanted babies. The narrator would assist his father by procuring neighborhood dogs and his mother by carrying away the remains of her work. One day, he inadvertently improves his parents’ business.
The Killers | Ernest Hemingway
Two hit men, Max and Al, enter a diner to get some food and to wait for their target to arrive. They’re looking for a boxer, Ole Andreson, whom their employer has a grudge against.
Impulse | Conrad Aiken
Michael Lowes is a husband and father, but he shirks his duties, spending time out with his friends, moving around, and not keeping jobs for long. During a night of card playing, he and his acquaintances talk about human impulses. Michael remembers an incident from childhood when he stole something.
Read here (Page 229, at the bottom)
A Jubilee Present | E. W. Hornung
A thief, A. J. Raffles, wants to steal a priceless gold cup from the British Museum. He discusses his plan with his accomplice of stealing the cup and melting into a nugget so it can be exchanged for cash.
A Problem | Anton Chekhov
The Uskov family has a serious matter to discuss, so they send their servants away for the evening. Sasha Uskov has forged a promissory note and is now in debt. His uncles have gathered to debate the merits of their options: paying the debt to avoid scandal or letting Sasha go to trial and face the consequences of his crime.
Thank You, Ma’m | Langston Hughes
Mrs. Luella Jones, a large woman with a large purse, is walking home late at night in Harlem. A boy rushes up behind her and tries to grab her purse, but the strap breaks and he falls down. Mrs. Jones grabs the boy and brings him to her apartment.
The Substitute | Francois Coppee
Jean Leturc has been in trouble with the law since he was ten. After many years he finds legitimate work and tries to go straight.
Gold-Mounted Guns | F. R. Buckley
Pecos Tommy is an outlaw known for his gold-mounted guns. When a young man decides to start a life of crime, he finds Tommy and asks if he can ride with him. He even has an easy job lined up to get their partnership started.
The Hitch-Hikers | Eudora Welty
Tom Harris, a traveling salesman, is driving to Memphis when he picks up two hitch-hikers. Tom stops off at a hotel to find somewhere for his passengers to sleep. While inside, there’s a commotion with his car.
Barcelona | Alice Adams
An American couple in Barcelona is out on the street when a man snatches the wife’s purse. Her husband pursues the thief.
Mandela Was Late | Peter Mehlman
A parole officer waits for an ex-con, Mandela, to show up for their meeting. He has a pessimistic view of the former criminals he deals with.
The Donagh; or The Horse Stealers | William Carleton
The Meehan brothers, and their wives and children, move into the small village of Carnmore. The elder brother, Antony, is cruel looking and fierce. The people are superstitious and believe the Meehans have a deal with the devil. They are mysterious and only associate with a few undesirables.
Read “The Donagh; or The Horse Stealers” (Page 24)
Daughter | Erskine Caldwell
The Sheriff locks up Jim in the town jail. Lots of people come by to get the details, asking him if it was an accident. He says his daughter was hungry, and she had been a lot lately.
The Bruce-Partington Plans | Arthur Conan Doyle
Holmes is bored with the caliber of crime in London when he receives a telegram informing him of an urgent visit from his brother Mycroft. A young man was found dead on the train tracks. He had on him the plans for a top secret government submarine; the most important pages were missing.
Sorrow-Acre | Isak Dinesen
Adam returns to his family home in Denmark as he is now the heir. A barn belonging to his uncle was burned down, and the main suspect is a young man, Goske. His uncle offers the man’s mother a deal: if she can complete a near-impossible job he will free her son.
The Blue Cross | G. K. Chesterton
Valentin, head of the Paris police and famous investigator, is in London on the trail of criminal mastermind Flambeau. While having breakfast at a restaurant, Valentin gets his first lead when he learns that two clergyman had stopped in earlier and one of them had made a mess before leaving. Valentin is open to oddities so he follows up on this unusual incident.
This story is the first appearance of the famous Father Brown.
The Red-Headed League | Arthur Conan Doyle
Sherlock Holmes is visited by Mr. Jabez Wilson, a man with striking red hair. Wilson had responded to an ad in the paper from the Red-Headed League. He was hired to copy from the encyclopedia for four hours a day. One day he showed up for work but the League was gone without explanation.
See also: The Malefactor (Communication), The Garden of Forking Paths (Philosophical)