In these stories there is a killing early on, someone is accused of murder, or a major character is a murderer or has murderous plans.
See also Crime
Lamb to the Slaughter | Roald Dahl
Mrs. Maloney’s husband tells her that he’s leaving her. She is dazed by the news; she gets a frozen leg of lamb and strikes her husband with it, killing him. She comes up with a plan to conceal her guilt.
The Tell-Tale Heart | Edgar Allan Poe
An unnamed narrator describes how he killed a man; he tries to convince his listener of his sanity and wisdom.
A Jury of Her Peers | Susan Glaspell
When a farmer in Dixon County is found dead in his bed–strangled–his wife is held on suspicion of murder. The local authorities investigate while two of their wives collect some items for the accused.
The Caballero’s Way | O. Henry
A ranger, Lt. Sandridge, searches for the Cisco Kid, a murderer with a quick temper and quick draw.
The Perfect Murder | Jeffrey Archer
A married man who’s having an affair sees a man leaving the home of his mistress. He confronts her and they argue, leading to him accidentally killing her. Another man is arrested for the crime.
A Good Man is Hard to Find | Flannery O’Connor
An extended family is headed to Florida for a vacation. The grandmother wants to go to Tennessee instead, so she talks about an escaped murderer – The Misfit – who is suspected to be on his way to Florida.
Blue Boots | Carol Newhouse
The narrator, living in Yellowknife, Canada, fantasizes about murdering annoying people. But living in a small town makes it more difficult to get away with crimes.
The Hound | William Faulkner
Ernest Cotton murders Jack Houston over an injustice. He tries to dispose of the body and feign ignorance about what happened.
The Sheriff’s Children | Charles Waddell Chesnutt
In the small town of Troy in North Carolina, Captain Walker is murdered. A mulatto man had been seen at the Captain’s house the previous night, so he is apprehended. The men feel that they should mete out justice themselves and decide to lynch him. The sheriff hears about the plan.
Flight | John Steinbeck
Nineteen-year-old Pepe Torres gets sent into town by his mother to buy some supplies. While in town, he stays at the home of a family friend, and quarrels with another man there. Pepe stabs the man and has to flee to the mountains.
Han’s Crime | Shiga Naoya
Han, a circus performer, severs his wife’s carotid artery during their knife throwing act; she dies immediately. Han is arrested and, along with the circus manager and stagehand, is questioned by a judge about the death. He tries to determine if it was premeditated or accidental.
Wet Saturday | John Collier
Mr. Princey has his daughter, Millicent, go over the details of a serious occurrence – so serious that he believes she could be put in a criminal-lunatic asylum, or possibly hanged. There’s a dead body in the stable, and Mr. Princey has to figure out what will be done with it.
Read here (Page 19)
Unreasonable Doubt | Stanley Ellin
Mr. Willoughby is on vacation to calm his nerves and relax, on the advice of his doctor. While resting on a train, he overhears an experienced lawyer telling the story of the most interesting case he ever worked on. Hosea Snow, the richest man in town, was found murdered; one of his nephews, Ben, was arrested for the crime.
The Murders in the Rue Morgue | Edgar Allan Poe
The narrator shares a residence with Dupin, a man with superior analytical skills. They like spending their time in seclusion reading, writing, and talking to each other. One day, they read a newspaper report of the violent murder of two women.
Miss Hinch | Henry Sydnor Harrison
An old woman and a clergyman on the subway talk about the latest sensational story – Miss Hinch, an actress and expert impersonator, killed John Catherwood with a sword. She was seen minutes after the killing, but then seemingly disappeared for the next ten days. With her uncanny ability to become someone else, the police – and a famous detective, Jessie Dark – are stumped.
The World and the Door | O. Henry
Mr. Hedges is out drinking with two younger friends, Merriam and Wade. Hedges gets quarrelsome and swings a chair at Merriam. He ducks and shoots Hedges, killing him.
Moon-Face | Jack London
The narrator hates John Claverhouse especially his optimistic view of life, his laugh, and his name. He knows that it’s an irrational hatred, but instead of ignoring the man, he obsesses over him, making it his aim to destroy Claverhouse’s life.
The House Behind | Lydia Davis
There is a house in front with spacious apartments inhabited by people with higher incomes, and a house behind with more cramped apartments and lower income residents. The narrator, who lives in the house behind, tells the story of a murder that happened in the courtyard a year ago.
This story is a parable for the resentment that can arise from class differences.
Brothers | Sherwood Anderson
The narrator lives at his country house, twenty miles from Chicago. There is an old man in the area that the people call insane. When the old man hears a news story he always claims to be related to the person in question. The Chicago papers are reporting that a man murdered his wife for no apparent reason.
Fondly Fahrenheit | Alfred Bester
A search party finds a dead child. She has android blood under her nails, and on a bronze stake is written the name Vandaleur. This confuses the searchers, because androids are designed not to kill. Meanwhile, the owner, Vandaleur, takes his android and flees.
Night Drive | Will F. Jenkins
As Madge is getting ready to drive to Colchester, she gets a phone call from Mr. Tabor, who asks her if she would drive his niece Eunice back home. She agrees but is uncomfortable – Mr. Tabor’s wife was killed on the Colchester road along with another woman. Madge picks up Eunice; she finds her off-putting and unsettling.
Mr. Mumsford | Larry French
Bibs, a janitor at a school, takes a bat from the equipment room and hides in wait for the principal.
Strawberry Spring | Stephen King
The narrator sees the name Springheel Jack in the newspaper. It reminds him of his time eight years ago at New Sharon Teachers’ College when a female student was found murdered in a campus parking lot.
Markheim | Robert Louis Stevenson
Markheim goes to a shop under the guise of looking for a present for someone. He really has murder on his mind, so he can then steal the dealer’s money and goods.
An Ideal Craftsman | Walter de la Mare
A boy wakes up at night unsure if the noise he heard was real or from a dream. He gets some things together and carefully goes downstairs. Everything is quiet. As he approaches the kitchen he can tell someone is there.
An Eye for an Eye | Jeffrey Archer
Sir Matthew Roberts has been engaged to defend Mary Banks at her murder trial. She maintains her innocence, claiming a blow from her husband caused blindness and that she was in the hospital at the time of his death. Sir Matthew believes a manslaughter plea is preferable.
Read “An Eye for an Eye” (Ctl + F title, little over halfway down)
The Child by Tiger | Thomas Wolfe
The narrator relates events that took place in his home town twenty-five years earlier. In the town lived a Negro man, Dick Prosser, who worked for the father of one of his young friends. Dick is a former soldier, very tidy, an excellent worker, religious, a crack shot, and he addresses the boys with respect. One day the boys enter Dick’s room and find a surprise that he is planning for the town.
A Municipal Report | O. Henry
The narrator goes to Tennessee for a meeting with Azalea Adair. He represents a literary magazine that is interested in publishing Adair’s work. During his stay he meets Major Caswell, a widely disliked man considered a nuisance and loafer. The narrator remarks that if he had been able to avoid associating with Caswell a murder wouldn’t have occurred.
We Can Get Them For You Wholesale | Neil Gaiman
Peter Pinter is a moderate man who loves a bargain. When he finds out his fiance Gwendolyn is seeing another man, he takes out a “contract” on her life. He arranges a meeting in a seamy pub to discuss the details.
I will continue to add stories about murder to this page that might interest an avid reader, or that might be appropriate for older students.