4 authors that take you to plot school

4 authors that take you to plot school

Readers, I love a good mystery, and a recent conversation has me thinking about the mysteries I love—those books that are so ingeniously put together that when you get to the big reveal, you take a deep breath and ask yourself, How did the author DO that?

Because of a project I’m working on (coming soon!), I recently had the opportunity to re-watch last summer’s Book Club conversation with Marisa de los Santos to discuss her newest release I’ll Be Your Blue Sky. Whenever we chat with authors, we always ask them what they enjoy reading, and I was surprised to hear Marisa confess her love of mysteries.

She told us she would love to write procedurals, but alas, that’s not the kind of writer she has. (I adore her books, so that’s just fine by me.) But she reads mysteries and procedurals by the bucketful all the same, both for her own enjoyment, and to pick apart how a skilled author can ingeniously put a plot together. She loves when you get to the big reveal and can see the author has been building toward it all along, even though you had no idea how significant those clues were at the time.

Today I’m sharing books from master plotters: the 4 authors that Marisa says she reads when she wants to go to Plot School. If you’re a reader, get ready to get wrapped up in an absorbing mystery. If you’re an author, get ready to take some notes. Some authors are contemporary, some are now shelved in the classics section, all would make excellent summer reads for the right reader.

I know I’m not the only one who loves a good mystery, so enjoy today’s list, and please share your favorite intricately plotted novels in the comments section.

12 intricately plotted crime novels that will keep you turning the pages

by Dorothy Sayers

In Book Club, we paired I’ll Be Your Blue Sky with the classic Sayers’ mystery Gaudy Night as a flight selection. When I chose the pairing, I had no idea Marisa was a Sayers fan, but we loved hearing her explain exactly what she loved about Sayers’s plotting. In a word: it’s seamless.

The Nine Tailors: A Lord Peter Mystery

The Nine Tailors: A Lord Peter Mystery

Critics have argued that this mystery–set in 1934 England–is the greatest detective novel ever written. I'm not the judge of that, but I do know that Sayers's mystery novels keep me turning the page until way past my bedtime. The eleventh Lord Peter mystery finds Lord Peter and Bunter stranded in a ditch a mile outside a village and seek help from the rectory. In the process, Lord Peter is recruited to help with the bell-ringing New Year's Eve service at Fenchurch St. Paul’s. Thereafter, a disfigured corpse is discovered and Lord Peter is drawn into his most complicated case yet. More info →
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Gaudy Night: A Lord Peter Wimsey Mystery with Harriet Vane

Gaudy Night: A Lord Peter Wimsey Mystery with Harriet Vane

This is Sayers' twelfth Lord Peter novel, her third featuring crime fiction writer Harriet Vane, and undoubtedly one of her finest. When Harriet returns to her alma mater to do some research, she investigates some unfortunate incidents that have recently occurred there and ultimately calls upon Lord Peter for help. More info →
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Whose Body? (The Lord Peter Wimsey Mysteries Book 1)

Whose Body? (The Lord Peter Wimsey Mysteries Book 1)

It is not every day one finds a naked corpse, save for a pair of hold pince-nez, in one's bathtub and yet this is the memorable start to the first Lord Peter Wimsey mystery. Lord Peter disagrees with the lead detective's conclusion about the murderer's identity and so begins his own amateur investigation. More info →
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by Kate Atkinson

Before Atkinson took her recent detour into historical fiction, she was best known as a crime novelist for her now-beloved—and recently returned-to—Jackson Brodie series. She loves reading and writing secrets, and wouldn’t have minded a career as a secret agent herself, according to interviews. Lucky for us, she’s channeled her interest into the pages of her books instead.

Case Histories

Case Histories

Author:
The first book in the Jackson Brodie mystery series kicks off with private investigator Brodie following three seemingly disparate cases in Edinburgh. What do a missing little girl, an attacked office worker, and a new mother who snapped have in common? Jackson Brodie follows the threads back over the past 30 years as surprising connections emerge. Fans of this series have been waiting nine years since the last book came out but take heart: book 5 Big Sky released June 25. More info →
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Transcription

Transcription

Author:
This historical sticks to the WWII setting of Life After Life and A God in Ruins but stands on its own. It's 1940, and an eighteen-year-old girl named Juliet, in search of a job, is surprised to find herself plunged into the world of espionage. It took me more than a few chapters to get oriented but cemented Atkinson as one of my must-read authors. I loved this one’s droll British voice. More info →
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Big Sky (Jackson Brodie)

Big Sky (Jackson Brodie)

Author:

Fans of Atkinson's Jackson Brodie series will be delighted to learn about this release, nine years after the last book Started Early, Took My Dog. Brodie lives in a quiet seaside village now and works as a private investigator. When his current job leads him to discover a human trafficking network, he also learns just how far back the crimes go. Atkinson writes mysteries exploring the human condition with trademark wit balancing out the devastation. You'll fly through the pages until justice is served.

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by Tana French

I’m a longtime French fan, and was delighted to hear Marisa sing the author’s praises during our chat. She’s best known—and deservedly so—for her Dublin Murder Squad series, a family of mysteries that inhabit the same world, but don’t need to be read in order.

The Likeness

The Likeness

Author:
Tana French's novels have great characters, F-bombs galore, and keep me glued to the page until I finish. In the second of her Dublin Murder Squad series, detective Cassie Maddux is pulled off her current beat and sent to investigate a murder. When she arrives at the scene, she finds the victim looks just like her, and—even more creepy—she was using an alias that Cassie used in a previous case. The victim was a student, and her boss talks her into trying to crack the case by impersonating her, explaining to her friends that she survived the attempted murder. The victim lived with four other students in a strangely intimate, isolated setting, and as Cassie gets to know them, liking them almost in spite of herself, her boundaries—and loyalties—begin to blur. A taut psychological thriller that keeps you guessing till the end. More info →
Faithful Place

Faithful Place

Author:
The third book in the Dublin Murder Squad series follows detective Frank Mackey and the demons from his past. His dysfunctional family lived in a small flat on Faithful Place in Dublin's inner city but he yearned to get out and even planned to run away to London with his girl Rosie but she never showed the night they planned to leave. Frank figured it was what his worthless self deserved and never went home. But neither did Rosie and now 22 years later, her suitcase is discovered behind a fireplace in an abandoned house where it all started. The cops don't trust Frank will be unbiased in his childhood neighborhood but Faithful Place doesn't trust cops period, not even one of their former own, leading Frank to take up his own unauthorized investigation. Faithful Place is a character study, examining the way home can be bring out the best or the worst of us. More info →
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The Witch Elm

The Witch Elm

Author:
This is French's first standalone novel and what an undertaking it is. Per usual, the character development is paramount but French weaves in a few mysteries to drive this plot forward. Toby is a privileged self-proclaimed lucky bastard but his luck takes a turn for the worst when he's attacked by two burglars and left for dead. He heads to his uncle's home to recover and all is well...until a skull is discovered in the garden, leaving Toby questioning everything he thought he knew about his family and himself. More info →
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by Louise Penny

It’s a good thing Marisa is a devoted Penny fan, because I don’t know if I could have put together a list of crime novels without including the Canadian author. My usual disclaimers: yes, start at the beginning, book 1 is slow, the murders are weird in 2 and 3, but good gracious does she hit her stride in book 4. It’s possible I’m counting the days till her next release on August 27.

Still Life (Chief Inspector Gamache Mysteries, No. 1)

Still Life (Chief Inspector Gamache Mysteries, No. 1)

Author:
Still Life is the first in a beloved mystery series. In the idyllic small town of Three Pines, Quebec, where people don’t even lock their doors, a beloved local woman is found in the woods with an arrow shot through her heart. The locals believe it must be a hunting accident, but Chief Inspector Gamache senses something is off. The story is constructed as a classic whodunit but it feels like anything but, with its deliberate pacing, dry wit, and lyrical writing. A stunningly good first novel. More info →
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Bury Your Dead (A Chief Inspector Gamache Mystery)

Bury Your Dead (A Chief Inspector Gamache Mystery)

Author:
Chief Inspector Gamache is supposed to be on leave after his last investigation went horrifyingly wrong. But he can’t ignore the dead body found at the Literary and Historical Society in Quebec when employees ask for his help in untangling the truth of a 400 year old secret. Meanwhile in Three Pines, Bistro owner Olivier was convicted of murder, even as his partner insists Olivier didn’t do it. As these events swirl around him. Gamache must make sense of not only the crimes but what happened in his own past. Layered and heart-wrenching, Penny skillfully moves the series forward by examining the nature of guilt, how we bear witness to culture and history, and what happens when we can't forgive. More info →
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Kingdom of the Blind (A Chief Inspector Gamache Novel)

Kingdom of the Blind (A Chief Inspector Gamache Novel)

Author:
The most recent release in the series finds Gamache descending upon an abandoned farmhouse outside Three Pines after a stranger named him as the executor of her will. He has no idea what to make of the request until a body is found. All the while, Gamache faces an investigation for the events that led to his suspension. Who could have ever predicted that after reading Still Life?! Luckily, we don’t have to wait too long for the next Louise Penny novel: A Better Man, book 15, comes out August 27. More info →
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Readers, what are YOUR favorite mysteries? Please tell us your favorite intricately plotted novels in the comments section.

P.S. 7 series to read next after you’ve run out of Louise Penny novels, 8 novels that are delightfully self-aware about the writing process, and 20 hot new releases everyone will be talking about this summer.

82 comments | Comment

82 comments

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  1. Carole says:

    I’m a huge fan of Louise Penny’s Gamache series (I’m Canadian which is partly why) but they really do need to be read in order, otherwise there would be huge gaps in his personal life. I already have book 15 on pre-order.
    Thanks for sharing this list. I will look at the other authors since Louise Penny is on this list.

    • Jody Hamilton says:

      I’m a huge Louise Penny fan as well, just love her books. And she is such a delight when interviewed. I’m lucky to have attended two of her book signings. Since her popularity has soared between these two events, the most recent signing had over 1,000 people in attendance!

    • Meghan says:

      Agatha Christie gets me every time! I’m always left wondering how she does the excellent plot crafting that keeps me guessing till the end. I have yet to figure out one of her mysteries before the end!

    • Ruchama Burrell says:

      I love Wilkie Collins as well. The Moonstone is wonderful, but don’t forget The Woman in White. Amazing. Very old fashioned with many outdated stereotypes and plot twists that wouldn’t be tolerated in a modern author. But what great reads!!

  2. Judy Purvis says:

    My husband and I would add Jane Harper (The Dry) and Yrsa Sigurdardottir (Ashes to Dust) as two excellent ‘plotters.’

  3. Laura Raines says:

    I have loved mysteries since reading Nancy Drew as a girl. Contemporary with Sayers, I like Patricia Moyes. A recent find is Kate Carlisle, who’s protagonist is a book binder in San Francisco. Other favs include P.D. James, Charles Finch and Jacqueline Winspear. I love it when a mystery teaches me about something I didn’t know about before — like record collecting and early jazz records in Andrew Cartmel’s “The Vinyl Detective.”

  4. Laura Raines says:

    Forgot to include Ngaio Marsh, Josephine Tey, Laura Joh Rowland and John Dunning (who taught me a lot about book collecting.)

  5. Estella Houston says:

    I am a HUGE fan of good mysteries. I recently discovered Louise Penny and look forward to reading more of her books. If I were to compile my own list of the “greats”, I would include (among many others!), Agatha Christie, Martha Grimes and Elizabeth George.

  6. Anneke says:

    You hit on three of my favorite mystery authors: Sayers, French, and Penny! I liked the PBS Jackson Brodie series, so I will add these Atkinson mysteries to my TBR list!

  7. Manisha Verma says:

    I have read all Louise Penny books and am eagerly waiting for the next one. Since I follow you closely, I have already read all other authors mentioned here, though not as avidly as Louise Penny. Thanks for the great work you do

  8. Donna H. says:

    I loved Magpie Murders and The Word is Murder from Anthony Horowitz and I’m looking forward to reading his latest-The Sentence Is Death. His plots are very clever, sometimes he has stories within stories, and they have an Agatha Christie quality which makes them feel like instant classics.

  9. Rebecca Strom says:

    I grew up with mysteries (Nancy drew, Agatha Christie ) and love mysteries that keep me guessing! I’ve read Louise Penney but so excited to find new authors! This such a fun sight!! Thank you Ann for all your hard work.

  10. TerryKes says:

    I’m a huge Penny fan – I’ve listened to every one and looking forward the new one this summer. I’ve not read anything from the other two authors mentioned, but I’ll remedy that this summer! I don’t know if this is considered in the same genre, but I really love the storytelling and mystery of Diane Setterfield’s ‘Once Upon a River’ and ‘The Thirteenth Tale’. Maybe more storytelling than mystery . . . but only by a smidge. Thanks for all the new (to me) TBRs!

    • Pam J says:

      I just finished once upon a river. It was multiple mysteries but also a little bit of magic. I really liked it.

  11. Laura says:

    Loiuse Penny is a personal favorite and now I’m feeling the urge to go back and read more Dorothy Sayers! Possibly my all time favorite author for her ability to weave a plot together seamlessly and keep me guessing until the end is J.K. Rowling (aka Robert Galbraith). The Cormoran Strike mysteries took me completely by surprise with how well done they were and how much I loved them.

  12. San Diego Cin says:

    My favorite mystery series right now is the Maisie Dobbs series by Jacqueline Winspear. She has won the Agatha Award, the Macavity Award, the Sue Feder Award, and the Dayton Literary Prize. Her books are well written and thoughtful taking the reader from post WWI to the first few years of WWII. I am hoping for many more to follow.

    • Elizabeth says:

      If you like the Maisie Dobbs series, then you should like the Bess Crawford mysteries(set in WWI) and maybe the Gaslight Mysteries by Victoria Thompson(set in the early 1900s, not wartime though) I like how all three are murder mysteries, but do not seem too gruesome and do not contain child murders (I just can’t handle those)

  13. Lori H says:

    I love Elly Griffith’s Ruth Galloway series (read them in order!) and Martha Grimes’ Richard Jury books. Thanks for reminding me about Dorothy Sayers – I miss Lord Peter and need to catch up!

    • Paula Watkins says:

      Oh wow, glad to hear this. I’d never heard of Elly Griffiths until this week, but I just picked up book 1 in the series at the library yesterday! Happy weekend to me!

  14. Emily says:

    Wow, I’ve read the first 3 Gamache books on your recommendation and am obsessed. And you’re saying she “hits her stride” in book 4?!? I sense a serious binge coming on. :O

  15. Stephanie says:

    It’s not a classic mystery book, but I just finished reading Elizabeth is Missing (by Emma Healey) for the second time and find it a remarkably crafted book. The main character has dementia so it’s confusing and disorienting, but a mystery is at the story’s core. Very well done!

  16. Meghan says:

    Can anyone recommend a mystery for someone who doesn’t like mysteries? Every time I try, I struggle and give up. I couldn’t finish In The Woods by Tana French and have not enjoyed a single psychological thriller I’ve tried. I’m beginning to think the genre just isn’t for me but I don’t want to give up on it yet in case there’s a missing piece out there I just haven’t found yet.

    • Jody Hamilton says:

      Have you read any of Kate Morton’s books? My two favorites are The House at Riverton and The Distant Hours. They do have elements of mystery in them but more to do with relationships and how the present merges with the past.

    • Ginger says:

      Perhaps you might try Louise Penny’s Gamache books. They are mysteries to be sure but they are truly so much more! I can’t even figure out how to explain it, but they might have the missing piece you are looking for! Don’t give up!

      • Meghan says:

        I have one Louise Penny book on my shelf — her last one, I think. I haven’t picked it up yet because I’ve heard you really should start with the first one.

    • Meg says:

      Psychological thrillers can be mysteries but mysteries, as a genre, seem quite a bit more diverse. You could try “cozy mysteries” which would be kind of the opposite of psych thrillers and definitely not like Tana French. Honestly I hated Into the Woods, too–so grim! And no payoff. (I did finish it but I kind of regret bothering.) But Louise Penny books are quite charming and the mystery, to me, is the least interesting part of the book. Her characters and setting are deeeelightful! And there are all these little subplots that I love, some bridging between books in the series. Anyway, not sure she really falls into the cozy category but might be worth a try for you, as others have suggested.

    • Susan says:

      Maybe you should try a cozy mystery. There are tons of different series in this genre. If nothing catches your fancy then maybe you just don’t like mysteries and there’s nothing wrong with that!

    • Anne says:

      There are so many great books that feature mystery plots but aren’t categorized as “mysteries.” I’ll Be Your Blue Sky is a great example. That might be a nice way into the genre.

    • Hi, Meghan — without knowing what your particular tastes are, I’m curious if you’ve tried Sweetness at the Bottom of the Pie by Alan Bradley? It was a four-star mystery for me. I really loved the main character, Flavia de Luce. She’s a little girl, but sassy and precocious is an UNDERSTATEMENT. (Think Harriet the Spy with a SERIOUS naughty streak.) I read this via audiobook and the narrator is amazing! It is a “mystery” book, but to me, the story turned around getting to know Flavia and her quirky family. I prefer my mysteries with likable characters who are interesting outside of the main crux of the story. Maybe this will help you!

      • Jody Hamlton says:

        I love Flavia; especially the audiobooks narrated by Jayne Entwistle. She is a perfect narrator for this series.

      • Meghan says:

        I have read the first Flavia book and I liked it. It was cute. I’m not sure I liked it enough to read any more of the series though. That’s one problem I have with mysteries. If there is a series, they often start to seem repetitive and formulaic.

    • Loranna Moody says:

      Maybe if you list a few non mystery fiction books you like, the other posters here could give you some suggestions.

    • Whitney E Mitchell says:

      Meghan: I’m going to recommend Jade Dragon Mountain by Elsa Hart, and The Beekeeper’s Apprentice by Laurie R. King. The first reads more like historical fiction that happens to involve a mystery; the second is very strong on character development.

  17. Jody Hamilton says:

    I’m so happy you included Bury Your Dead by Penny in your list. I’ve read all of her books but this one remains my favorite. Heart-wrenching is a good description, I cried at the end. I’ve read books from all of the authors you mentioned but not all of the books in the list (except for Atkinson and Sayers; I’ve read all you listed). Other readers have commented on other authors which I enjoy: Griffiths, Harper, Grimes, Christie, Marsh, Tey, Crombie, Winspear.

    I’m also a fan of Kate Morton (The Distant Hours is my favorite) and Christopher Fowler (Bryant & May).

  18. DANA J DIPASQUALE says:

    I read Still Life based on your recommendation, and I am HOOKED! Currently on wait list at library for book 8 in the series. Prior to reading Still Life, I would have told you that I didn’t like mysteries. I just had not found the right author yet. I am currently reading your book, Reading People, while I am waiting (guess it’s good that #8 had a wait time, right :)? )

  19. Rebecca L Holliman says:

    Wow, so many of my favourite novels on this list! The only one I haven’t read is the new Jackson Brodie; can’t wait until it comes out.

  20. Dee Klausman says:

    Good list. I’ve not read the Dorothy Sayers books so will check them out but have read all the others. Over the winter I read the entire Shetland Series by Ann Cleeves. They were good and got better as they went along. Loved getting to know the recurring characters. I love mysteries in the winter—read with the fire going and hot tea to drink. The dark days lend themselves to reading a good mystery.

  21. Dee says:

    I want to love Louise Penney, but I read the first in the Gamache series and felt pretty “meh” about it. I love Tana French, especially Faithful Place. Adored that book!

    • Veronica says:

      I actually started with book 4 and worked my way forward, and then eventually read the first three. I don’t know if I would have stuck with the series if I had started with the first one. I love her books, and have her newest on pre-order.

  22. Suzanne says:

    We’re huge fans of Charles Todd’s Ian Rutledge series in our house. Similar to what Anne says about Louise Penny, the first three books aren’t the best, but the series picks up with number four and doesn’t let up after that. We also like Laurie R. King’s Mary Russell series, although some books have been better than others. And if you like belly laughs with your corpses, I can’t say enough good things about the late Anne George’s short but so sweet Southern Sisters mysteries.

  23. Elizabeth says:

    I think the two best mystery plot authors are Agatha Christie and J.K. Rowling! I enjoy Louise Penney very much as well and also really like Jacqueline Winspear, but I think the Queen of Mystery Writing title has to be shared by Christie and Rowling.

  24. Debbie says:

    I would have to say that The Nine Tailors is the best detective novel I’ve ever read and I loved Gaudy Night as well.
    I finished Ann Cleeves Shetland series last year and thoroughly enjoyed those books.
    I’m working my way through the Louise Penny series and went to the library to check out #9, How the Light Gets In and was disappointed to find that someone has checked it out along with the next 3 books after it!

  25. Ruchama Burrell says:

    I do think the Sayers mysteries that involve Lord Peter and Harriet Vane should be read in order. Not all of the Peter Wimseys do involve her, but once she’s introduced following their relationship is a bonus pleasure. I don’t think Gaudy Night involves him, just her. And I couldn’t name from memory which of the Lord Peters is the first with Harriet, but I’m sure the information is available via search.

    • Laura says:

      Lord Peter Wimsey is in Gaudy Night (at the end- the best part!). Strong Poison is their first with both characters. I was told to start there, then Gaudy Night, Busman’s Honeymoon, Have His Carcase. I enjoyed that order for what it’s worth!

      • Jeannette Tulis says:

        Actually the order for the Harriet Vane books are Strong Poison, Have His Carcase, Gaudy Night then Busman’s Honeymoon. I am in the middle of Busman’s Honeymoon right now after finishing Gaudy Night and it is positively delicious after seeing how Harriet’s relationship with Peter grew in the previous books. Sayers wrote that she had to make Peter grow up so he would be worthy of Harriet. I love these books so much.

  26. Nina says:

    Thanks for this post about mysteries, which are very important to my reading life. I alternate between novels and mysteries. In addition to the ones mentioned above (J.K. Rowling, Elizabeth George, Jane Harper), I have also enjoyed some Ann Cleeves books, which kept me guessing until the end. About 15 years ago I read and loved several mysteries by the Russian author Alexandra Marinina, though that was in German and I don’t see them for sale in English, at least not on Amazon. Some other mysteries I really enjoyed: Two Girls Down by Louisa Luna, Mission Flats by William Landay, The Mountain by Luca D’Andrea (spectacular), Sue Grafton’s Alphabet Series, and the two Manon Bradshaw books by Susie Steiner.

  27. Carolyn Derby says:

    I love Ann Cleeves and her Shetland series, along with the Gamache series by Louise Penny. I agree that it’s best to read their books in order. Highly satisfying!

  28. Kelley says:

    Love love love Louise Penny’s books. My other favorite series is Jacqueline Winspear’s Maisie Dobbs books and Alan Bradley’s Flavia de Luce books. The Flavia books are wonderfully read by Jayne Entwistle, who makes them even more enjoyable.

    • Jody Hamilton says:

      I agree with your choice of books and just replied to another poster about the delightful Jayne Entwistle reading the Flavia de Luce books. She does make these good books even better.

  29. Shirley says:

    I am a lover of the Tana French series. I didn’t realize she has a newer, stand alone book. Just put a hold on it at the library. Thanks!!

  30. Gwen says:

    I’m a HUGE Louise Penny fan, and have devoured all of her books and enjoyed them immensely. But what I’m going to share is that when I watched the Marisa de los Santos interview last summer, I was amazed that she regarded Dorothy Sayers so highly, and that she especially liked the novels with Harriet Vane in them, and read them yearly. I consider that high praise, and I decided to read the first Dorothy Sayers (Whose Body?) which I greatly disliked. I continued on with the four that include Harriet Vane (https://www.goodreads.com/series/110558-lord-peter-wimsey-harriet-vane-original-series), and they are MASTERFUL! The subtle way she develops her characters is truly worthy of study. So, although I do not recommend the first in the series, it is good to read to contrast it with the Harriet Vane novels. I would never have found these gems had it not been for the MMD Book Club, Anne Bogel, and Marisa de los Santos. Thanks.

  31. Jennifer Kepesh says:

    I am reading Mick Herron’s latest Slough House series book, “Joe Country.” (Slough House is where the MI5 washouts end up, because you can’t fire a spy without the danger of them being picked up or hired by another country to find out what they know, and if you are going to have to keep all of the usual checks on them going, you might as well have them do all of the most boring, low-level, probably-unnecessary work while you are paying for them to not be turned against their country.) Mick Herron would be a great choice if you like Tana French’s way of introducing a new character’s perspective into the setting and basic plotline she’s established in previous books, because there’s always a new wash-out on hand. If you like John Le Carre’s great, cynical telling of the shadow wars, you would probably also like Herron, who mixes in just enough of the actual spy stuff while focusing more on the ways that the MI5 folks are constantly looking to replay the cold war against their own colleagues in their own headquarters. If you like the way Louise Penny keeps moving forward with characters in their small town and you are okay with a mean version of that growth, in an even smaller purview, you’ll like Mick Herron. His characters are, for the most part, deservedly washouts, and character redemption is on a much smaller scale, and the food is pretty much bad takeout, unlike the great meals in Penny’s books. And, while we’re on the subject of plotters, Herron does such a fiendishly good job, at the end of the story you’ll be replaying a million little moments as little “aha!” firecrackers go off in your head.

    • Glendasays–I can’t believe that neither of my two favorite mystery authors were mentioned!! Nevada Barr with her books about a woman ranger detective in the different state or national parks and J.A. Nance books set in Arizona!! Love both of these and read new books as they are released!!

  32. I just finished Started Early, Took My Dog by Kate Atkinson to get prepared for Big Sky. I cannot wait! I love Jackson Brodie! But, the BEST thing about these novels is that each one introduces new characters that are just as lovable and flawed as the detective himself. Most of the time they’re amazingly strong female characters who drive the plot forward. They also heavily feature dogs, which is my favorite thing! I’m dying to know if the dog Brodie acquires in the 4th novel is included in Big Sky! Fingers crossed!

  33. Carol Wilson says:

    I agree with Glenda. Can’t believe J A Jance wasn’t mentioned and my very favorite author, Harlan Corben. You never know “who done it” until the very end or maybe not even until the epilogue.

  34. Jacqueline says:

    Have you tried Antony Horowitz? I loved “Magpie Murders” and” The Word is Murder”. I’ve never read anything like Magpie Murders where there is a story within a story!

  35. Teri Hyrkas says:

    What a wonderful list of mystery writers and isn’t it terrific that so many of them are women? For Dorothy Sayers fans, is it a well-kept secret – sort of a mystery – that Sayers wrote a terrific translation of Dante’s Divine Comedy? As a young woman, she won a scholarship to Sommerville College, Oxford, in modern languages and medieval literature and was one of the first women to be awarded a degree from there.
    If you love cozy mysteries and cats, you might enjoy “The Cat Who…” mysteries by Lillian Jackson Braun. They are really fun to read – clever, witty, and Braun involves the Siamese cats in the story just enough to keep the mystery storyline plausible. She has cat behavior down perfectly. There are twenty-nine mysteries to choose from. Helpful to start at the beginning but not completely necessary. The first in the series is “The Cat Who Could Read Backwards.”(1966) Nominated twice for an Anthony Award and once for an Edgar Award.(Best Paperback Original)

  36. Monica Deakin says:

    I loved The Beekeeper’s Apprentice by Laurie R. King, a fresh take on Sherlock Holmes and his young protege Mary Russell. This is the first book in a series that is now up to Book 15. Some titles are stronger than others, but all in all worth getting into!

  37. Loranna Moody says:

    Carl Hiassen— his SKINNY DIP has everything. A. It’s the best revenge story ever, B. It’s set in Florida. C. It has a realistic brother-sister bond D. It has the best Jane Austin take off, E. The girl friends/book club relationship is great F. The love stories are well portrayed: see A, B, D,c&F above and finally G. My favorite older fictional character Skink aka Clinton Tyree aka the governor make an appearance.

  38. Whitney E Mitchell says:

    I just finished reading “Whose Body?” as a result of this post right here, and I came back to say how much I loved it. I’m now planning to read through all the rest of her Lord Peter Wimsey books. Thanks for the great recommendation!

  39. There are some missing from the list. I do love historical crime and have found some really good one, for ex Anne Perry, Paul Doherty, Susanna George,CJ Santos, TE Kinsey, M Louise Locke. Then you have the irish Peter Tremayne and Cora Harrison, dont forget the first Jonathan Kellerman (among them the one about Munchhousen syndrom) as well as his wife Fayes books about Peter Deckar and his jewish orthodox wife.

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