Brighton Rock, Graham Greene (1938)
The prolific British author's work transcended many genres. He wrote political thrillers, romantic sagas, and spiritual explorations. Brighton Rock manages to be all three in one. One of his four "Catholic novels," it follows Pinkie Brown, the sociopathic teenage member of a gang that terrorizes the seaside resort town. When he brutally murders a man who betrayed the leader of his gang, he gains the attention of a nosy, older woman who fashions herself an amateur detective. He resorts to seducing the young, innocent waitress who can serve as the only witness to his crime — and who does not fully comprehend his deep, evil nature.