Favorite Books: Mysteries


My godmother got me hooked on mysteries. I was in third grade and it was The Secret of the Old Clock – Nancy Drew. I read mysteries throughout my growing up. When was reintroduced to the genre about 10 years ago, I never looked back. I will admit that mysteries are all I read currently, along with a bit of poetry and stacks upon stacks of homeschooling books and children’s read alouds.

The authors listed below are all ones I keep up with – and not one of them ever disappoints. I usually find time to read the new installment in the series sometime with the year it is published. It varies as to which is my favorite, but Louise Penny holds a special place in the queue. I have read her Armand Gamache series ever since I picked up an ARC of her first book, Still Life. Before she was a rock star – which she is now – we used to email occasionally. She was always witty and charming and down-to-earth. I’m sure she still is. Her new books debut in August, but somehow I am able to delay gratification and save it until the week between Christmas and New Years. Our family always rents a small house at the beach and Louise, Gamache, Jean Guy, Clara, Myrna, Gabri and Olivier always come with us. (The car is a little tight!) I always tell myself I will take it slow and ration the chapters, but that never happens. I proceed to completely ignore my family for 24 hours straight while I am transported to the magical village of Three Pines. (Tom and the boys are busy watching college bowl games anyway, so they don’t miss me at all.) 400 or so pages later, I look up and am surprised to find myself at the beach. It’s a soft landing and I’m already looking forward to next year. (Serendipitously, there is a  Gamache reading group forming. The series will be read in order and it begins April 21. Let me know if you join.)

So even though I have gushed about Ms. Penny, I would encourage you to read to any one of the authors below. Nothing is too grisly or gory or scary. All are impeccably written. I have listed author (with a link to their personal websites), followed by the detective and the setting.

Donna Leon/Guido Brunetti/modern-day Venice

Charles Todd/Ian Rutledge/London between the wars

Laurie R. King/Mary Russell/London between the wars

Jacqueline Winspear/Maisie Dobbs/London between the wars

Louise Penny/Armand Gamache/modern-day Canada

Reed Farrel Coleman/Moe Prager/1970s-1980s NYC

Alan Bradley/Flavia deLuce/1950s England

Lisa Lutz/Isabel Spellman/modern-day SanFransisco

Sara Gran/Claire DeWitt/modern-day USA

Jasper Fforde/Thursday Next/futuristic England

Tana French/lead detective varies/modern-day Ireland

9 thoughts on “Favorite Books: Mysteries

  1. My love of mysteries started with Harriet the Spy! And now, my oldest has caught the bug. I am so ridiculously excited to give her the newest Judith Viorst book about Lulu being a spy (saving it for a very long road trip in May). Anyway, I really would love something to read BESIDES parenting or homeschooling books. It has been ages and ages since I read a mystery — which one should I start with?

  2. Well you know you’re singing my song…Well you know I love Louise Penny thank to you, she’s at the top of the list along with several others of yours. I love PD James, Katherine Hall Paige, Anne Perry, and the Aunt Dimity series by Nancy Atherton is a lot of fun, Ngaio Marsh is another long time favorite (the Agatha Christie of New Zealand who wrote from the 30s to the 60s). So much fun!

  3. About halfway through Still Life, and I’m really enjoying it! It reminds me a bit of Lillian Jackson Braun’s The Cat Who . . . series. This is more sophisticated — I haven’t read LJB since college, but part of why I loved those books was their descriptions of the surroundings and the food. Ha! Somehow, that made the mysteries seem downright cozy. This book is familiar in that regard. Then I moved on, in my early 20’s, to devour, pardon the pun, the James Lee Burke detective novels. I can’t believe I’ve been away from this genre for so long. Glad to be back into it!

  4. Pingback: The Most Wonderful Time of the Year | Sure as the World

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