6 series to read next after you’ve run out of Louise Penny novels

Years ago, two Canadian readers—one a friend, one a blog reader—convinced me to give Louise Penny a try. I was hooked from the start. (Although I will say to new Penny readers: book 1 is leisurely paced. In books 2 and 3 the murders are kind of weird—not graphic, but weird. I think Penny hits her stride with book 4.)

Her first book, Still Life, was published way back in 1990, but I didn’t begin with the series until Penny had been writing for more than a decade. At the time, she had a devoted but smallish fan base; these days her new releases are instant New York Times bestsellers.

When I began reading the books, there were 5 or 6 published already. I so loved burning through the series over the course of a summer, catching up to the then-latest installment, and a half dozen books was the perfect number of titles—satisfying, but not overwhelming. I quickly became enraptured with the Canadian inspector and his town of Three Pines, and the characters I’ve gotten to know (and worry about between installments!)

Since the publication of Kingdom of the Blind last November, there are now fourteen novels in the series, which, I’m sorry to say, you should probably read in order. The mysteries stand alone, but fans love Penny for the way her stories operate on two planes: on one level, well-crafted procedurals; on the other, the absorbing relational dramas of her characters. If you jump in mid-series, you’ll miss out on the significance of the relational plots.

I relished catching up with the series when I first found it, but now I’m in the unenviable position of having to wait a year or more between installments. A small consolation? I’m in good company.

Because I’m not alone in my plight, I’m sharing authors Penny fans may enjoy reading next while waiting for the next installment in the Inspector Gamache series. Their series are readalikes, in the sense that they also offer mysteries that operate on two planes and have a strong sense of place. I’m sharing more about the first book of each series below.

6 series openers to read next after you've burned through all the Louise Penny novels
A Duty to the Dead (Bess Crawford Mysteries Book 1)

A Duty to the Dead (Bess Crawford Mysteries Book 1)

Like Maisie Dobbs, this series features an atmospheric, post-WWI England setting and a wartime nurse turned investigator; with the Bess Crawford series, the author's explicitly wanted to show readers the women's side of The Great War. In this first installment, Bess is determined to fulfill a promise she made to a dying officer, even though she's been sent away from the front with a broken arm. But when she meets the man's family, something feels off—and she soon realizes she's plunged straight into the middle of a web of long-buried secrets. Written by the mother-son writing duo of Caroline and Charles Todd. More info →
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In the Woods (Dublin Murder Squad Book 1)

In the Woods (Dublin Murder Squad Book 1)

This is the first of French's popular Dublin Murder Squad, although the series need not be read in order. Tana French writes an amazing psychological thriller, and her story here is tight, twisty, and unpredictable. The story has two primary threads: one revolves around a psychopath, the other around a supernatural disturbance, and you'll be sucked right into both. The murder is seriously grizzly, the book unputdownable—although be warned: the ending is highly controversial. More info →
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Maisie Dobbs (Maisie Dobbs Mysteries Series Book 1)

Maisie Dobbs (Maisie Dobbs Mysteries Series Book 1)

This is the first installment of the instantly beloved British mystery series set between the wars, and the accents on the audiobooks are to die for. At age 13, Maisie became a maid in London, but when her employer notices Maisie keeps sneaking into the library at night to read philosophy, her employer puts her on the path to Cambridge. When WWI begins, she becomes a nurse, and then a private investigator. This first novel is a strong start to a strong series: read them in order. Compared to the other mysteries on this list, the content here is gentler, and recommended reading for high schoolers. More info →
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A Share in Death

A Share in Death

This might be my most recommended series for Louise Penny fans; I especially love how, as the series progresses, the Scotland Yard police work is only half the content: in addition to their cases, Crombie devotes considerable ink to her detectives' personal dramas and romantic entanglements. (In other words, read these in order.) This first installment reminds me of Dorothy Sayers: detective Duncan Kincaid happens to be vacationing at his posh cousin's time share when a body is found in the resort pool. The local detective rules suicide, but Kincaid is certain there's more to the story. Highly recommended for mystery-loving Anglophiles. Get caught up now so you're ready when the next installment hits shelves in October 2019. More info →
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Death at La Fenice: A Commissario Brunetti Mystery

Death at La Fenice: A Commissario Brunetti Mystery

Some critics call the Commissario Brunetti mysteries "the next best thing to being in Venice." In this first installment, a renowned opera conductor is found dead in his dressing room, a victim of cyanide poisoning. It's significant that this is a particularly painful way to die. As the investigation unfolds, it's clear the man had a dark past and many enemies, and that the perpetrator wanted to make his victim suffer. But why? Death at La Fenice is an excellent place to begin, but no need to read this series in order. More info →
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A Great Deliverance (Inspector Lynley Book 1)

A Great Deliverance (Inspector Lynley Book 1)

You all keep telling me I'll love Elizabeth George, but I'm intimidated by the TWENTY existing titles—to be read in order. This award-winning series features Scotland Yard members Detective Inspector Thomas Lynley and Detective Sergeant Barbara Havers. These mysteries feature well-developed characters, intricate plots, psychological depth, and a strong sense of place, with much of the action unfolding in the gorgeous English countryside. More info →
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Are you a Louise Penny fan? What series would YOU recommend to readers who are all out of Inspector Gamache novels? Do you, like me, want to visit Three Pines one day? Tell us all about it in comments. 

6 series to read next after you've run out of Louise Penny novels

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  1. Katie W says:

    Thank you thank you for this post! I started during the holiday season of 2017 with Still Life and just finished Kingdom of the Blind. I am so glad I finally jumped into this series. Maybe I’m an odd-ball, but I actually really enjoyed 2 and 3 🙂

    Louise Penny announced a couple days ago that her next book will be out at the end of August! It’s called A Better Man.

    • Kate says:

      I LOVE Louise Penny, Three Pines, and Inspector Gamache and can’t wait for the next installment. That series has a certain warmth that I sometimes find lacking in other series, even the ones that I enjoy. There is an element of cozy without being cloying.

      I love Maisie Dobbs and Cormoran Strike (Galbraith) on audio. I also enjoyed MJ Carter’s Blake & Avery series on audio – the narrator has a GORGEOUS voice. I am currently reading The Widows of Malabar Hill by Sujata Massey, which I believe is the start of a series. So far so good.

      I am very excited to try some of the series listed in the comments!

      • Karen says:

        I love these books, found the first one on Bookbub and fell in love! I have been struggling to find something new and have started at least 5-6 different books/authors and none have been right. So I will definitely try some from your list.
        Before LP I was reading J Robert Kennedy, totally different kind of writer, also found on Bookbub, but his book are good, quick reads, there are three series that intertwine together but you can get the order to read list on his website. They are relatively inexpensive(Ebola). I do love his characters and he tends to write quickly, I just finished the last instalment and the preorder for the next is up and due in March I believe. I find it a good filler for my more slow favourite authors.
        Thanks again for the suggestions!

  2. Beth says:

    I love Louise Penny and highly recommend the Anne Cleeves’ Shetland Mysteries. Raven Black is the first one. The Vera Stanhope books don’t do it for me but I tore through the Shetland series.

    • Carol says:

      Have you watched the Shetland series on Nexflix? I have tried more than once but just can’t get into it. Consequently, I haven’t tried the books, even though they seem to be loved by readers. So I’m ready to READ the first one now!

      • Nancy Sackett says:

        Shetland books and series absolutely wonderful. Read the books and then watch the series. It will enhance your enjoyment!

      • SoCalLynn says:

        I haven’t read the books, but I LOVED Shetland on Netflix. It’s so moody and takes its time revealing who the characters are. Loved it.

    • Amy says:

      I second the Shetland Island series reco. I’ve read a few of the Vera Stanhope novels and they’re good, but a different feel. She also has a newer series – Two Rivers. Slower paced, but also good.
      I’m currently working thru the Cork O’Connor series (18 books) by William Kent Krueger. Reminds me a lot of Louise Penny – small, tight knit community, relatable regular characters. Sent in northern Minnesota with Native American themes.

  3. Colleen says:

    Love Louise Penny! I have “ Kingdom of the Blind” but I am waiting to read it closer to May because it is a book club pick! Louise Penny has just announced her next book will be published August 27 and I forget the title!
    Some authors of series book I have enjoyed:
    Elly Griffiths
    A.D Scott
    Benjamin Black
    Jussi Adler Olsen
    Ian Rankin
    Alan Bradley (Canadian)
    Peggy Blair (Canadian)

    • Melody Smith says:

      I live Jussi Adler-Olson’s characters. Very much like Penny in that you grow to live the quirky supporting characters!

  4. Sally Bacon says:

    Another great series is by Nicci French (husband/wife writing team) and it starts with Blue Monday. Each book has the next day of the week in the title.

    • Wendy Rae says:

      I agree! I’m just about to start the last Frieda Klein novel and I don’t want to because then ANOTHER favorite series will be over! This series is so good!

    • Deb says:

      I do love Louise Penny’s series, the characters and setting. I’m also a fan of Deborah Crombie’s Duncan and Gemma and Peter Robinson’s Inspector Banks series. So I found the Nicci French, Frieda Klein series disturbing enough after book 2 to quit.
      However, I gave it another try in book 3 and by the end of that series I missed having Freida in my life. I am hoping they follow up with an other series with her.

    • Meg says:

      Oh, good info. I would have jumped to Elizabeth George first–not even sure why– but I won’t enjoy graphic content or child victims, so I’ll skip it! I appreciate the heads up!

    • Jill K. Porco says:

      I loved Elizabeth George’s earlier books. Her writing has gotten sloppy over time and she has a terrible editor. The later books are intimidating tomes. There are other authors I can read. I do like Barbara Havers though, as prickly as she is.

      • Shayne says:

        Totally agree about Elizabeth George. They have become longer and less interesting over time. Her first 5 or 6 are great, as are the BBC adaptions. She has been writing for ages. Any shout out for Martha Grimes – she is missing from list so far.

    • Glenda says:

      Hi. I tried Tana French and the first few pages of the book had a gross sexual reference among teenagers. I’m no prude but I put it down. If you guys say I should give Tana another try I will.

  5. Rachel Z says:

    Ahhh yes. THIS IS THE POST I’VE BEEN WAITING FOR! Every time I start a new mystery series, I compare it against Penny’s Gamache. It’s honestly not even fair to all the other books!

    I’ve read a lot of these already, and they’re all good… but. I don’t think I’d necessarily recommend Tana Woods to someone simply because they like Louise Penny. Tana Woods’s books read to me more like a slow-burning nightmare. I can’t explain quite how or why they get under my skin the way they do, but it’s been YEARS since I’ve read Broken Harbor, for example, and it still gives me chills.

    One series I’d add to this list is Ruth Galloway by Elly Griffiths. Ruth is a forensic archaeologist who is regularly called upon by local police to help solve murders in the area – a spooky and atmospheric community on Britain’s coast. Because of the main character’s profession, there are lots of opportunities to explore mythology and religious history, which is a lot of fun. The series has an endearing cast of quirky characters, which is one of the reasons I think Penny fans would enjoy it.

    • Johnna says:

      So glad to see that someone else mentioned the Laurie R. King books. I love, love, love them. I wasn’t sure if it was because I am a huge Sherlock Holmes fan. These books are just delightful.

    • Katie W says:

      I read the first one so long ago and remember really enjoying it! I just bought a copy to start up the series again this year.

    • Saffron Garey says:

      I completely agree. I discovered Louise Penny because I was waiting for the next Mary Russell. They’re very different but both have great characters.

    • Bonno B says:

      I was waiting for someone to recommend this series! So fun, especially when they run into famous poets, writers, and musicians of the roaring 20s. Cole Porter, anyone?

  6. Rebecca says:

    Love this list! I made my husband spend our 10th anniversary in Quebec because I love Louise Penny so much. But I think Still Life was first published in 2005 not 1990.

  7. Hooray! I’m so happy to see Elizabeth George in this list. Maybe after you’re finished prepping the Summer Reading Guide you’ll be able to meet Inspector Lynley and Barbara Havers?! 😉

    Another series that also operates on those two planes—although with a very different vibe than Louise Penny—is the Gabriel Allon series by Daniel Silva. They’re spy thrillers, but they’re also best read in order because Gabriel and his found family of agents go through SOME STUFF together over the course of the series. I also love them because I learned a lot about history in the early books—the Palestinian-Israeli conflict, the role of the Vatican during the Holocaust, how Mossad came to be… very gripping. And not for nothing, they’re set in atmospheric places like Venice, Vienna, Monaca, and of course, Tel Aviv.

  8. Judy says:

    I too hate waiting for the new Gamache book each year, and am excited everytime my pre-order drops into my Kindle. I would concur with all your choices except Robert Galbraith. I’m just not a fan, even though I love J.K. Rowling’s Harry Potter series. I would, however, add Charles Todd’s other series featuring Ian Rutledge. It also combines police work with personal issues and relationships. As a side note, I am currently living in Spain so I recently read Death at La Fenice simultaneously in Spanish and English. One chapter in Spanish from a library book, followed by the same chapter in English on my Kindle. Slowed me down a little, but I enjoyed it just the same and it allowed me to read it without resorting to a dictionary during the Spanish chapters. Thanks for suggesting these excellent series in this context!

  9. L says:

    Peter Robinson is my favorite British mystery author….mentioned this week in the crime section of the NYTimes book review…..start at the beginning to understand all the relationships as they develop over 20 plus novels.

  10. Johanna says:

    Thank you for this list. I am not at all a mystery reader (besides some occasional old Agatha Christie), so when I picked up Still Life from your recommendations on the podcast, I was stunned that I loved it. Now I parse out the novels, not allowing myself more than one every few months. But at this rate I will finish in 2019! So thank you.

    • Kristin Fields says:

      I don’t know if I want to live in Three Pines but I would like to meet all the characters!

      I have read a lot of these authors but a few new ones popped up here so I thank all of you for these recommendations. I have Louise Penny’s latest one to read yet but it is on my bookshelf staring at me!

      By the way, have any of you heard her books categorized as cozy reads? I have and that makes me grumpy! I love cozy reads but her books have much more depth than most cozies. An interviewer once asked her if she considered them cozies. Her reply showed she was offended. I don’t blame her. I consider her books literary mysteries, if that is a category. There is so much poetry in many of them.

  11. Melyssa says:

    I’m lucky to still have some of Louise Penny’s series still to read. I recommend Elly Griffiths’ Ruth Galloway series for those who need something else to read during their wait for the next book. This series also offers those continuing character threads that keep me interested, even beyond the mysteries in each book.

  12. Erika Claves says:

    I have been enjoying Alan Bradley’s Flavia de Luce mysteries. Love a strong female character and the physical books come in beautiful colors!

    • Susie says:

      My mother and I LOVE Flavia de Luce!!! This series is the best! Plucky young Flavia is a chemistry fan and specializes in poison, while solving an awful lot of murders in Bishops Lacey…. Highly recommend, better to read in order, starting with Sweetness at the Bottom of the Pie.

    • Katie W says:

      I love these books, they’re so funny! I just started collecting them because I love the “jelly” colors of the books. My husband keeps bugging me to find a copy (I’ve been getting used) of the first one so he can read the books that make me giggle so much. The newest one just came out and it’s in my to-read stack!

      I can really only handle audio versions of books I’ve read before because I tend to tune out, so I’ll have to find some of these.

  13. Pam says:

    I just finished Kingdom of the Blind. And am once again in the same position as you. Luckily I am also a fan of Tara French and her latest book is waiting on my TBR shelf. Long before I had found either author, I loved Anne Perry’s Thomas Pitt series. They are also best read in order as the characters mature in each book. I think there are around 20 books now so should hold the reader over until the next Three Pines installment hits the stores.

  14. Christine says:

    I finished Penny’s books (except for Kingdom of the Blind) in December and already had planned to fill the gap this year with a monthly reading of Alan Bradley’s Flavia de Luce mysteries. They aren’t anything alike really, but Flavia is delightful and it’s fun to follow her romps around the 1950’s English countryside. I’m reading the second book right now and plan to complete the series this year. I’m already looking forward to the Maisie Dobbs mysteries in 2020! And of course Penny’s newest Three Pines mystery in August!

    • Pam says:

      I like this series, too. Set on the Canadian prairies – Saskatchewan – with a set of characters that track through successive books. And no one book is terribly lengthy, so you are unlikely to get bogged down or have to backtrack because you lost key plot points between readings.

  15. Mary Duncklee says:

    Thank you so much for this! I’m a big Louise Penny fan. I have also read all the Maisie Dobbs books and one Donna Leon but none of the others.

  16. Laveta says:

    I’ve read only the first Louise Penny book, based on your recommendation. The Cormoran Strike series is SO GOOD! I hope there are many more installments.
    Now I have to decide whether to read more Louise Penny or to start one of the other series.

  17. Tiffany says:

    I love this list, and I’d add the JD Robb (Nora Roberts) In Death series. It is set in the future and has more romantic elements than the Gamache books (at least so far – I’m only on 2 of the Penny books). However, the solid procedural layered with relationships – friendships, work colleagues, and romances – that continue to weave and grow through the series.

  18. Melissa says:

    Fantastic post! My TBR list for the year is organized typically by category. This year many of those categories are the names of detectives! Gamache, Strike, Dobbs, and Poirot are all on the list.
    Some others I might recommend:
    – The Charley Davidson series by Darynda Jones: The 13th (and final book) is out. No spoilers here – Charley is “part-time private investigator and full-time grim reaper.”
    – Jane Austen Mysteries by Stephanie Barron: Jane as detective!! I loved Twelve Days or Christmas (I have a tradition of reading murder mysteries around the holidays).

      • Melissa says:

        Thanks! So many good ones – Hercules Poirot’s Christmas by Agatha Christie and The Mistletoe Murder & Other Stories by PD James. I love the beauty of family coming together at Christmas…but it can also bring out the worst of dynamics! Ha!

  19. Allison Vierling says:

    Louise Penny is coming to speak at the Lenoir Rhyne University Visiting Writers Series in Hickory, NC (not too far from Davidson!) on March 7th. Let me know if you would like a ticket. I believe they are sold out.

  20. Caroline L says:

    I’d add Martha Grimes series with Detective Richard Jury. Jury has a crew of compatriots that brings to mind the residents of Three Pines, a Greek chorus.

    • Susan says:

      Caroline,I was just going to write a comment extolling the Richard Jury mysteries by Martha Grimes!! My family has been reading them for probably 20 years, and we love that whole quirky “family” in Long Piddleton—- Inspector Jury is dreamy, then there’s the earl who doesn’t want to be an earl, his pushy Aunt Agatha, the lovely Vivienne who Jury falls hopelessly in love with, and so many more. I never see Martha Grimes mentioned in this blog and wondered whyit’s a serious mystery, but very funny. You must start at the beginning (new readers) with The Man With a Load of Mischief.

    • Megan says:

      Love these! There’s good chance Martha Grimes will be my three-book author for the MMD challenge thanks to this series (though I’m leaving myself room to become obsessed with another, new-to-me writer).

  21. Brenda Choquette says:

    Thank you for all the suggestions.
    Some of my favourites are:
    The Gregor Demarkian series by Jane Haddam. Set in Philadelphia around the Armenian culture, they are to be read in order.
    Beatrice Stubbs series by JJ Marsh, also in order.
    Martin Walker with his Bruno Chief of Police set in France.
    My favourites are Elizabeth George, Donna Leon, Louise Penny and Dan Silva.

    • O'Dea Rosen Patricia says:

      I second this recommendation of Martin Walker’s Bruno series. His town and the friendships he’s made have the warmth of Three Pines. Oh, and the food will remind you of Gabri’s bistro. No licorice pipes, but there’s lots of wine.

    • Becki says:

      I am reading the first Gregor Demarkian mystery now and loving it – thank you for the recommendation, I hadn’t heard of this mystery series! it’s a looong time til the next Gamache mystery comes out!

  22. Linda says:

    Thank you for such a timely post. I finished The Kingdom of the Blind recently and was glad to hear about her new book to look forward to. I have read some of the series you posted and I am always looking for others. I was glad to see someone suggested the Ann Cleeves Shetland series. They are great to listen to. I just finished Peter May’s Lewis trilogy. It is because of you that I found Louise Penny to begin with. Thank you for all of your great suggestions and insights.

  23. Beverly says:

    Thank you for recommending Penny. I also love Three Pines. I also enjoy the Thomas and Charlotte Pitt series by Anne Perry- if you like Victorian mysteries, you would like them for the character development and attention to historical detail.

  24. Katie Newc says:

    I read “In the Woods” last month and really, really liked it. Really eerie mood and tone, without being ridiculous or too much. It felt like such a good character AND plot driven read. I just read “Still Life” a couple weeks ago…it was an ok read for me. I enjoyed Gamache, but without sounding crazy, the crime felt a little quiet for me. Do I keep going in the series? Please advise ?

    • Nan Cinnater says:

      I am in the middle of the Louise Penny series, and I’m so glad I wasn’t put off by “Still Life.” I found it soooo slow and predictable. But then I jumped into the middle of the series with “Bury Your Dead,” and it was extremely suspenseful and brilliantly put together. (Also, I love listening to the audio books — great reader.)

      • Megan says:

        Thank you for this! This is the first time I’ve ever seen a suggestion for getting in midstream. I was left so frustrated with Still Life, especially the ending; I’m not unwilling to give Penny another go, but the usual refrain that “you have to read them in order” has always stopped me, because I know that’s not going to happen.

    • Katie W says:

      Yes, get into the series! One of the things I really love about this series is the character development and the relationships between all the Three Pines characters. Their stories continue from book to book and they are so good.

  25. Holly says:

    I’d add William Kent Krueger to the list, his series starts with Iron Lake. The books have an excellent sense of place (mostly northern Minnesota) and also have great characters. I’m eagerly awaiting the next release in this series!

    • Vicky Kilian says:

      I was wondering if anyone would mention William Kent Krueger! My husband and I love this series. His stand alone book An Ordinary Grace is one of my favorite reads.

    • Linda King says:

      Wm Kent Krueger is an excellent author. He blends in Native American culture along with rural law enforcement procedures. Interesting family members also. A bit biased because I’m a Minnesota native.

    • Nancy Agneberg says:

      Krueger’s books are excellent, I agree. He used to write in a neighborhood restaurant not far from where I live in St Paul. The restaurant is gone now, but his spirit lives on! Ordinary Grace is a stand alone book and not part of the mystery series, and is such a worthwhile read.

  26. Claudia T says:

    Wonderful! Thanks for this list! I’m such a fan of of the Maisie Dobbs series. My husband and I enjoy listening to the books in that series on our long drives to visit our children. The accents of the reader(s) are delightful and add so much to our enjoyment of the stories! I look forward to trying some other series! Thanks!

    • Penelope Kimber says:

      Yes, Dalziel and Pascoe are great. I’m surprised that no-one has so far mentioned Andrea Camilleri’s Inspector Montalbano series, set in Sicily. There is a wonderful Italian TV series, based closely on the stories, which have a great cast of characters.

  27. Robin Smith says:

    I recently found Charles Finch’s series about a private detective in Victorian London, Charles Lennox. Good mysteries and interesting characters.

  28. Barb says:

    I second Anne Perry, the William Monk series and also the Thomas and Charlotte Pitt series. I also love Cynthia Herrod Eagles crime series. The characters have such appeal. The main character Bill Slider will be your new favorite detective. Human, conflicted and essentially a great guy.

    • Laura says:

      I read The Face of a Stranger (1st William Monk) for book club and loved it! Not sure where I’ve been to have missed her all this time, but I’m going to remedy it! Great mystery.

  29. Wenneu says:

    I read one of Louise Penny’s books and was not really enthralled. Some of it is far fetched but still suspenseful. I guess one disclaimer here would be to mention the language she uses. Some of it is words I don’t use in my conversations so I find that offensive. I think that needs to be mentioned as there may be others who have language preferences as I do.

  30. Maggie says:

    I started listening to Louise Penny’s audio book’s. What a total pleasure. You are taken to a different pleasant world. I read that her books are amazing as an audio book and I completely agree. It may have been you who recommended it on your blog. I’ve read her books and am very much enjoying the audio repeat.

  31. Beth McGee says:

    Thanks Anne! Have read all of the Penney books. Another series is Charles Finch’s Lenox mysteries. Set in Victorian London and environs. He has recently written some prequels.

  32. I FINALLY picked up Still Life after having it sit on my shelf for years and I adore it thus far. Normally murder mysteries are not my cup of tea, but I’m enjoying the character development and life in a small town aspect of the novel. I’m so glad you brought it to my attention years ago!

  33. No one comes close to Louise Penny…her stories are in a class and style all their own. I don’t want to visit Three Pines, I want to LIVE there. I would also count Jan Karon’s Mitford Series as readalikes although centered around a small time minister.
    Instagram: @bookbimbo

  34. Janene says:

    I love mysteries. Another author that I would add to the list is Julia Spencer Fleming. She writes about Clare Fergusson, an Episcopal priest with a military background.

    • Raela says:

      Completely agree! I had to comment about her too 🙂 I blew through these audiobooks! And am really hoping we’ll eventually get another book.

      • Jody H. says:

        Julia Spencer-Fleming just wrote on her FB page that the next novel is complete, submitted to her publisher and is in the editing phase. She expects her fans to be able to read the book next winter. The title is Hid From Our Eyes. She writes that she has had a lot of life roadblocks within the past 5 years which has delayed her writing.

        • Nancy Agneberg says:

          I am delighted to learn there will be another book from Julia Spencer-Fleming. I have deliberately not read the last available one in the series yet, not wanting to end my relationship with the main characters. Thanks for the information.

      • ANN PERRIGO says:

        Yes, the Claire Ferguson books are a favorite of mine! Love how the titles come from hymns, and love her oh-so-complicated relationship with the police chief!

        • Barb says:

          Oh I love these too! And I forgot about Katherine Hall Page’s Faith Fairchild mysteries. Faith is a caterer who is married to an Episcopal priest. They are very gentle books and include recipes.

          • Aquagirl809 says:

            How can not one single person here mention Laura Lippman’s Tess Monaghan series set in Baltimore??? I love Baltimore, and the writing is excellent, witty and charming! Laura Lippman’s stand alone novels are also fabulous.

    • Pam says:

      Thank God! I’ve been going through this list for an hour now hoping someone would venture mention Julia Spencer Fleming. Her last book was called through the evil days and then it ended before the story was over. What happened to her?

  35. Kay says:

    I would add two crime series to this list. The Shardlake series by C J Sansom, it is set in the 1500s and provides glimpse of history along with the mysteries. Also the Ruth galloway series by Elly Griffiths, she is an archaeologist who becomes entangled with helping the police through several cases. As ever, it is best to start with the first in each series otherwise you miss all of the back stories, which like the Gamache novels, work through the books.

  36. I started this series based on your recommendation and am loving it. The first couple of books do move a little slowly but they get better and better as you get to know the characters. I just downloaded the 9th book from my libary. There is a quite a long wait for the ebook versions even though they’ve been out for awhile. Someone told me I could read them out of order and I don’t agree with that since there’s such a through line story of behind-the-scenes things related to Gamache’s clash with others inside the Surete. And sign me up for visiting Three Pines!!

    Oh and you’ve mentioned that licorice pipes are often referred to in the story. I think the 8th book which is set at a monastery is the first book with no mention of a licorice pipe!

    • Katie W says:

      I think that while the murders themselves stand alone from book to book, the overall stories do not stand alone and should definitely be read in order. I always find it odd, too, when people say they can be read out of order.

  37. Anne says:

    Thank you!! I started reading Louise Penny & Tana French in 2017 after hearing you recommend both authors. I love Three Pines but I love love love the Dublin Murder Squad series. I am most excited to find a readalike for Tana French & hoping that something on this list will scratch that itch! This has turned into a 6 day weekend for my kids so we are going to venture out to the library this afternoon!!

    • Gundry says:

      If you’re looking for a read-alike for Tana French I think the closest I’ve found is Kate Atkinson’s mysteries featuring detective Jackson Brodie. Case Histories is the first.

  38. Vanessa says:

    Thank you for this post!!! I just finished Kingdom of the Blind last week and I think it’s one of her best!!! Thanks for the recommendations and descriptions.

    Another series and author I recommend is the Lady Emily series by Tasha Alexander. It is a mystery series with a fabulous female detective, Lady Emily, who does not think that having brains is in any way at odds with also loving beauty. She’s smart and spunky and accidentally starts solving murders but then finds she’s quite adept at it. I would recommend reading these in order though I started with book 12 on accident. They are not as long or as intense as Penny’s novels, though I appreciate Alexander’s character development through the series.

    Thanks to all those with other recommendations in the comments, too!

  39. D says:

    I have read most of the books recommended, with the exception of Elizabeth George. Robert Galbraith was not my cup of tea, and I prefer Charles Todd’s Inspector Ian Rutledge’s Series. But, I agree with those who have recommended Flavia De Luce. I will like to recommend Norwegian author Karin Fossum’s and her Inspector Sejer’s Series. She likes open endings, but the characters and situations are well constructed. And, if you prefer a mystery with a funny side, then MC Beaton’s Agatha Raisin might be a good option.

  40. diane says:

    I was hoping to see a list like this! Thank you! I love well-written mysteries, but don’t like graphic violence and don’t want anything bad to happen to kids. I also like a hero/detective I wish were a friendly neighbor. (haha. So many rules!) So, these suggestions are closer to “Cozy Mysteries.” For writing that strongly evokes place and time, I like Ellis Peters’ Cadfael mysteries. I liked Maisie Dobbs and Flavia de Luce quite well (although I got tired of them) and the Flavia stories have more “place” and detail about them — Flavia has a bike named Gladys! — so I like it better. If you are looking for old-fashioned cozy-style-espionage, try the Mrs. Pollifax books? The Tannie Maria books (2 of them) set in South Africa are sort of promising–they’re not Louise Penny, but ….

    • Mariel says:

      I love Mrs Pollifax! She’s an unexpected, grandmotherly spy with hidden reserves and talents that win the day in a clever and charming (but not cutesy) way. And each book is set in an interesting, sometimes exotic location that Dorothy Gilson has obviously researched and/or visited in depth, so you get a real flavor of the place. Very fun!

  41. Sue says:

    I have discovered the Ava Lee series by Ian Hamilton. Ava Lee is a forensic accountant who retrieves money from (mostly) bad people. It is definitely a guilty pleasure for me.

  42. Sara T says:

    Louise Penny is a gem to be read slowly to get the full flavor of Three Pines and the bistro.
    I love Martin Walkers Bruno series. How about Mark Pryor. His latest is The Book Artist. Lots of twists and turns.

  43. Lisa says:

    Thank you so much! I read them all between September and January and now I’m once again without any new mysteries to read because all of my series are done or at a stand still. Do you have any recommendations for those of us who love Amelia Peabody? Thanks again!

    • Toni says:

      Jane Jakeman wrote a fun read called The Egyptian Coffin. There are a couple of other books in the series but I liked this one the best.

  44. Kelley Patton says:

    Thank you for this list! I’ll keep for future reference because I just started the Louise Penny series and am only on Book 4. But I’m getting them from the library, so I’m usually waiting a week or 2 between books. Also, I’m listening to the audiobooks and the narration is wonderful!

  45. Turia says:

    I have read your blog for a year or so now (and LOVE it!) but have never commented. I struggled through the first Louise Penny novel, and appreciate your opinion that she only really gets into her stride around book 4 (book #2 is on my shelf at the moment). Put me down as another vote for Alan Bradley’s Flavia de Luce series. He’s a master at ‘mysteries that operate on two planes and have a strong sense of place’.

    To be totally honest, I find Flavia hard to take on the page (I got bogged down after book #4 when I was reading them in hard copy), but I’ve found the audiobooks to be amazing! Jane Entwistle reads them all and truly captures Flavia (the other residents of Bishop’s Lacey too, but her Flavia is particularly brilliant).

  46. Raela says:

    One other commenter mentioned her, but I think a definite read-alike is the Julia Spencer-Fleming series, The Rev. Clare Fergusson & Russ Van Alstyne Mysteries. I actually started listening to these right around the same time I tried out the first couple Louise Penny books, and I flew through the Spencer-Fleming books on audio over the course of a few months. (I’m intending to get to the rest of the Penny books!) I got incredibly sucked into the characters, in a similar way I think most people have in the Penny books. Initially, the two leads are the biggest draw, but the secondary characters also really start to take on a life of their own. It’s been a long time since a new title has released in the series because of some personal things in the author’s life, but it sounds like a new one isn’t terribly far off now.

  47. Mary says:

    This list is great! I am always looking to find books similar to or recommended by Louise Penny – few reach her standard, but they are still enjoyable. I find I’ve read a lot of these authors, but certainly not all. I’ll add my recommendation for the Jane Haddam series, and to both of Ann Cleeves’ series.

  48. Sue says:

    I read Still Life on your recommendation, and was particularly interested in the setting of the Eastern Townships, because I used to live just south of there, in very northern NY, and my mother loved traveling thru the Eastern Townships Well, Three Pines is so mythical that it might as well be Brigadoon! Nothing about it reminds us of the E. T. in Quebec. And Three Pines as a name? Weird! The Eastern Townships have towns with names like Sherbrooke, Orford, Magog, Coaticook, Granby, North Hatley…. Altho, my mother did the enjoy the French pronunciation in the audio book. Anyway, I liked the book, but it wasn’t GREAT. Did not make me want to read more.
    I do heartily concur with other reader’s suggestions of the Alan Bradley Flavia de Luce books, as well as Martha Grimes Richard Jury mysteries and P.D. James is in a class by herself.

    • Deanna says:

      I used to live in Northern NY as well (Ottawa was our closest city) so reading this series has another lovely connection for me.
      Another series I recommend is by Tony Hillerman set in the 4 Corners of AZ, NM, CO, UT. It gives a wonderful sense of place & of the Navajo Nation.

  49. Donna S. says:

    Thank you so much for this list. I’ve read all the Louise Penny, Elizabeth George, and Robert Galbraith. Loved them all, especially the Penny series. I’ve read a lot of Donna Leon but compared to the Gamache series they fall short for me. The Masie Dobbs series is good, but a little tame for me. I’ve only read In the Woods in the Tana French series. Which one of those should I read next? Can’t wait to try the Deborah Crombie, and one of the comments suggested Anne Cleeves. I’ve watched the whole Shetland series on Netflix so I’m looking forward to those.

  50. Teri Hyrkas says:

    I also suggest Martha Grimes’ Richard Jury series. Grimes is an American author who spends a lot of time in the UK. The first in the Jury series is “The Man with a Load of Mischief,” which is the name of an English pub. Most of the books (over 20 titles) are taken from existing English pubs with typically odd English names: “Help the Poor Struggler,” “The Old Silent,” etc. The cast of characters is quite quirky and mostly remains the same, and the books are atmospheric for a lot of reasons: locations in poor, run down neighborhoods, characters with deep emotional struggles, etc. They also can be quite comical and seem to frequently include an animal or two, usually a dog, and often a child. If you need to have a happy ending with every book this might not be the series for you, but Grimes delivers a story that will definitely whisk you away to present day England to experience the good, the bad and a tasty pint at wonderful pubs such as “The Horse You Came In On.”

  51. Carrie says:

    Nevada Barr’s Anna Pigeon series follows a Park Ranger through her career as a law enforcement ranger in the NPS which I love.

    They’re fun reads, with an insider’s view of America’s favorite federal agency, plus, talk about atmospheric settings!

    They are probably better read in order, so start with Track of the Cat.

    • sharyn says:

      I like this series too. For me, these books are “palate cleansers” when I need a little escapism and some less serious literature.

  52. Maureen Davis says:

    I love all of Louise Penny’s Inspector Gamache books. I don’t usually read murder mysteries but Still Life was one of my book group’s reads and I was hooked. I’ve now read all of them and can’t wait for the next book to be released. I wish three pines existed. I want to go there.

  53. Lindsay says:

    The Inspector Gamache series had been recommended to me so many times the past 2 years (L. Penny fans are enthusiastic!), so I finally bought Still Life at a used bookstore last fall. I haven’t started it yet, but I’m looking forward to it!

    • Lindsay says:

      Fans, can you answer a quick question for me? Are Louise Penny’s books grisly or dark? I’m fairly sensitive and not interested in reading books that go that direction. Thanks in advance!

  54. Michele says:

    I live in a tiny town in north central Minnesota, so Louise Penny’s Three Pines feels a bit like home. I only preorder two authors’ books: Louise Penny and Tana French. Thank you for this list of series to yry while I wait for my favorites.

    • Wendy Rae says:

      Also a Minnesotan! We obviously have a similar tastes in some books. I also really enjoy the series that Tana French writes with her husband under the name Nicci French. And stuff by MN authors. Two really quick reads are by Matt Goldman. And I love the Virgil Flower series (not as gory) as the Prey series by John Sanford (love all the local references).

  55. Jody Hamilton says:

    An author that was recently described as The Australian Louise Penny is Jane Harper. She has written 3 novels, two in the Aaron Falk series (The Dry and Force of Nature) and most recently a stand alone (The Lost Man). She is a fabulous writer. Her sense of place is as fine as Three Pines.

    Three other series that I absolutely love:
    Bryant & May by Christopher Fowler – first book is Full Dark House
    Jackson Brodie by Kate Atkinson – first book is Case Histories
    Rev. Clare Fergusson/Russ Van Alstyne by Julia Spencer-Fleming – first book is In the Bleak Midwinter (it’s been 5 years since the author has written another book in this series but she recently wrote that her new book is done and should be released in 2020).

    I’ve read books in 6 out of 7 of the series mentioned above, am up to date with Maisie Dobbs (Winspear), Kincaid/James (Crombie) and Cormoran Strike (Galbraith).

    • Ashley says:

      I was coming on here to suggest Jane Harper (loves her first two books) and had no idea she has a new book out! So excited to read it!

  56. Lindsey says:

    I read Still Life and liked it, but couldn’t get past the first few pages of her second book. I really didn’t like it!! Would anyone recommend that I push through and continue reading? (Is the second book a bit odd? Or is it typical of the rest of the series?)
    Did anyone else have a hard time getting in to book 2?

    Thank you!

    • Vanessa says:

      I heard that the first three were not as amazing as the rest of the series so I pushed through and I agree with that. I’ve just finished her last book, Kingdom of the Blind, and it was amazing. Fabulous book and an amazing story, one of her best. But I thought the series started really slowly and got progressively better. Penny weaves more and more into the books and starts having these huge overarching story archs which encompass 3-4 books at a time which is really fabulous. Good luck if you decide to keep going!

  57. Teresa says:

    I love the atmospheric French mysteries by Fred Vargas, the pseudonym of Frédérique Audoin-Rouzeau, an archaeologist and historian. Her Chief Inspector Jean-Baptiste Adamsberg series is wonderful and reminds me of Louise Penny. The stories take place in France. Her characters are thoughtful and well-crafted. The first one of the series is “The Chalk Circle Man.” There are eleven altogether as of now, but not all have been translated from French yet.

  58. Meg says:

    I started the Louise Penny series a few months ago, while waiting for the next Robert Galbraithe to come out! So it’s fun that you have the reverse listed as well. I love the audiobooks of both series. I’ll look forward to trying some of these series after I get through the next TEN Louise Penny books–I’m only on book four. Happy to hear that it gets even better from here. It seems like a long series but I know they will go quickly, as I am completely charmed by Three Pines and its residents.

  59. Jana says:

    P.D. James and Martha Grimes both belong on this list. As a bonus, James’s final book, a stand alone, “Death Comes To Pemberley”, is a sequel to “Pride and Prejudice”.

    I used to like mysteries, but the older I get, the less tolerance I have for bodies in trunks and descriptions of grisly deaths. Still, I know these are terrific writers and am glad there are so many to choose from for those who are tougher than I am.

    Anyone else out there who is pushing 60 with a short stick who no longer enjoys mysteries? Just curious.

    • Caroline says:

      Love “pushing 60 with a short stick”! That’s me. However, I still love mysteries, but I now prefer fairly realistic, grimmer ones! I do love Gamache, but others in that style are just too sweet or simple for me.

    • Pam says:

      My 60th coming up later this year! Honestly, grisly doesn’t bother me, in books or on the screen, as long as it isn’t gratuitous. So MTS books remain my favourite reads by far. The more suspense and thrills, the better. I love a page-turning plot with strong characters.

      I do prefer that there is at least one main character who is likeable. I didn’t care much for Tana French’s recent standalone novel (The Witch Elm), because the main characters all seemed deeply flawed to me.

    • Karen says:

      I don’t do grisly deaths either. I don’t like graphic violence, torture, sexual abuse. These things happen so frequently in real life that I don’t want that horror in books I read for entertainment. Novels make it so real it keeps me awake at night, and I;m an insomniac as it is. I have found that as I’ve gotten older (I’m 63)that more and more I read non-fiction instead of novels. History, memoir, nature and gardening….

      • Ruth O says:

        Ditto! Can’t believe it now, I used to read Patricia Cornwell…just cannot handle that any longer. Also pushing 60 with a short stick! I loved Mrs Pollifax, might need to revisit that series, she is lots of fun, spunk and adventures. Going to try Louise Penny again, pretty sure she was a DNF for me once before. Definitely added An Ordinary Grace to my TBR list…which is growing!

  60. C. says:

    Some of my favorites weren’t mentioned. Rhys Bowen’s Molly Murphy series is addictive as is Carolyn Hart’s Death on Demand series. I also like Jane Langton’s Homer Kelly books.

  61. Eileen says:

    I’ve tried twice to read Louise Penny. I read the first one, skimmed a lot because I could NOT get into it. Started the second and gave up. I know you’ve said on the podcast that the first few novels are slow. Is it possible to start a little later in the series or would I miss too much? Is there somewhere to get a real good explanation of the plot so far until I get to a book where it gets more interesting?

  62. Libby Miner says:

    I will second, third, or fourth Alan Bradley’s Flavia de Luce. The first one is called “The Sweetness at the Bottom of the Pie.” They are popular with my book club girls and at my local library. Every time I go to get the next book, its out. I’m going to have to put it on hold. I second the Laurie King books on the Mary Russell series. I’ve read two of them. Mary Russell is Sherlock’s wife and she takes dangerous missions in exotic places. I found that the stories got a little complicated and hard to follow but I overall really enjoy them. I’m just reading an Agatha Raisin mystery by M.C. Beaton. They are the most like Louise Penny’s books out of these three recommendations. But Flavia is hands-down my favorite. I just love that kid! An older but still beloved ongoing series of mysteries (not of the murderous kind, however) are by one of my favorite serials authors, Alexander McCall Smith, the No. 1 Ladies Detective Agency. I think that series is on book 19!

  63. Sarah says:

    ***Trigger warning AND spoiler alert*** I’m a big fan of Tana French and Jane Harper and Cormoran Strike, but that first Elizabeth George novel involves very graphic child sexual abuse. I would not have read it had I known! It’s part of a surprising plot twist, which is probably why it’s never mentioned in blurbs and reccs, but it was really disturbing for me…and I can handle all the other books on this terrific list!

  64. Toni says:

    What a fun post! Those of us who haven’t been hooked by Louise Penny’s series are definitely in the minority! I’ll keep trying though. The top of my list goes to Charles Todd’s Inspector Rutledge series especially the audiobooks read by Simon Prebble (starting with #10). And tied for first is Laurie King’s Mary Russell/Sherlock Holmes series especially the audiobooks read by Jenny Sterlin. Other series that I enjoy are: ML Longworth -Judge Antoine Verlaque; Deanna Raybourn- Lady Julia Grey; Barbara Cleverly – Insp. Joe Sandilands; Susan Elia MacNeal-Maggie Hope; Edmund Crispin- Gervase Fen (Golden Age mystery); Maddy Hunter- Passport to Peril (hilarious tongue-in-cheek); Jean-Luc Bannalec- Insp. Dupin set in Brittany; Imogen Robertson- Western & Crowther series; CS Harris-Sebastian St. Cyr series; Carol K. Carr- India Black series; Jill Paton Walsh- Lord Peter Wimsey; Vassem Khan- Inspector Chopra set in India; and Suzanne Arruda-Jade de Cameron series especially the Serpent’s Daughter. Haven’t tried Robert Galbraith yet as have a thing about the horrible Harry Potter ending. But may try them after hearing these accolades. Thanks for all the great ideas!

  65. Audrey says:

    I got book 14 in a book club (Parnassus firsts) when it was was released. Hadn’t read any so started because they haven’t steered me wrong often. Now on 11 (in less than 2 month since starting). Glad for this once I catch up,

  66. Suzanne Cater says:

    I love Louise Penny, but push through books 2 and 3. Another series I love is the Sebastian St.Cyr series by C.S. Harris. It’s set in England in the early 1800’s and combines mystery, history,and romance. Start with “What Angels Fear.”

  67. Jennie says:

    I love Louise Penny!! I fell into How the Light Gets In (later in the series) and got really hooked on the characters, so I went back to the beginning of the series and continue to love it. (For some reason, I felt apologetic for not branching out into other authors/ books in between, but then it dawned on me that reading a series is really no different than binge-watching.) Glad to see so many other Inspector Gamache fans out there!

  68. Jayne says:

    Thank you for these recommendations! It seems I waste so much time at the library trying to figure out which book is actually the first installment of a series. I’m glad to hear that I’m not the only one that has had a hard time getting into the Penny series. I haven’t given up on it yet! There truly ARE so many books and so little time.

  69. Elizabeth Tierney says:

    I highly recommend Deborah Crombie and Donna Leon!! Death at La Fenice is one of my favorite mysteries ever.

    Thanks for starting this conversation!

  70. Colleen M says:

    This post got my attention as I, too, love Louise Penny’s series. I did read the Deborah Crombie and enjoyed that one as well. Another series with a mystery component as well as multiple layers, is one of my favorites, the Isabelle Dalhousie series by Alexander McCall Smith. Charming, thoughtful, with a puzzle to be solved. Also, best to read in order.

  71. Wendy Rae says:

    Boy, did I need this post! How does life go on without a Three Pines Fix? I first have to say that reading the series is NOTHING like listening to it.
    You will be immediately transfixed by Inspector Gamache. I have become obsessed with traveling to Quebec. I also love the Cormoran Strike novels – again, left waiting… And while a bit different, the Rev. Clare Fergusson/Russ Van Alstyne series by Julia Spencer-Fleming. The Ruth Galloway stories as well. The problem with preferring to read a series is – the enormous anxiety while waiting for the next book!!! Thanks for everyone’s recommendations.

  72. Judy Purvis says:

    We recently discovered mysteries by the Icelandic author (but well translated) Yrsa Sigurardottir. The protagonist is a lawyer. Very well written.

    • Megan says:

      I just discovered this author, Yrsa Sigurardottir, too, and enjoyed her. I am a big fan of Louise Penny. Camilla Lackberg is another favourite. She is a Swedish author. Her books stand alone but you get more out of them if you read them in order. I find both Penny and Lackberg mysteries have a cozy feeling to them even while solving murders.

  73. Amanda says:

    I love Anne Perry ‘s books. Especially, inspector Pitt and Inspector Monk. She has a compelling mystery, but also has a lot of commentary on the social aspects on 1900’s England.

  74. Stephanie C. says:

    I am so glad to see the Maisie Dobbs series by Jacqueline Winspear on here! I don’t think I’ve ever met another person that has read any of this series. They are delightful and Winspear does an immense amount of research before writing her books. They are chocked full of historic facts.

  75. Teresa Kasch says:

    A big fan of Jacqueline Winspear’s MAISIE DOBBS series! Also love Susan Elia MacNeal’s MAGGIE HOPE series! Just started Louise Penny!! Very EXCITED!!

    • Chrissa says:

      YES! I was going to recommend Susan Eli MacNeal as well! I love historical fiction, and World War 2 era Great Britian is my favorite. We seem to have similar taste – four of the authors that I very impatiently wait for the next installment are Winspear, MacNeal, Penny and Rhys Bowen.

  76. Shannon says:

    I discovered the Amelia Peabody series by Elizabeth Peters when I was in high school and have reread several of them multiple times. Maybe not the most realistic mysteries but the characters are funny and memorable, plus all of the archaeology and the Egyptian setting makes them really fun reads.

  77. Stephanie says:

    Having heard so much about Louise Penny, I was excited to check out her first Inspector Gamache story, Still Life, after recently signing up for a library card. I have heard of readers waiting with much impatience between Penny’s book releases and I wanted to be one of them. In no way do I mean to to offend anyone here but I was shocked at how poorly written that book was. At this stage in my life, it isn’t hard for me to not finish a book I am not enjoying but I plodded on with this one. I kept telling myself “it must be me” or “maybe it gets better with the next chapter” or “surely the second half of the book will be worth it”, finally, “the conclusion is probably where it will all come together and not make me think I wasted my time too much.” I was wrong every time.

    I know this is just my opinion but the writing was devastatingly painful throughout the story and the characters unbelievable, two dimensional, and awkward. Prior to reading the conclusion, I had this book pegged at two stars. After reading the conclusion, I was forced to remove a star. It was impossible to guess how the mystery would conclude because it barely made any sense.

    Please, if there is something I am not seeing or if someone else has had the same experience, reach out! I am hoping her first book was a one-off and every book thereafter has been better though at this point I am afraid to even test that theory. I want to love Louise Penny after all the good things I have heard but I am afraid at this point I cannot.

    • Laura says:

      I read the first 5 and felt similarly- can’t waste more time. But I love mysteries so it’s fun to hear other recommendations! It also helps cut down my TBR.

    • Nancy Agneberg says:

      I think there is a big leap in writing quality between the first and second Louise Penny books and the writing continues to improve. I recommend reading the first in the series, even if the writing is not as good as one would like, in order to get to know the characters.

    • Kelli says:

      I felt the same way. Have tried numerous times to get into the first book, but now taking it off my TBR list. Glad to know I’m not alone!

  78. Amy O'Quinn says:

    I haven’t read the Louise Penny books, but I’m a HUGE fan of both the Maisie Dobbs series and the Bess Crawford series. I’m especially partial to the writing style of the mother/son duo (Charles Todd) and wait expectantly (and impatiently) for each new Bess Crawford installment. That said, I guess I need to head to the library for some Louise Penny books! 🙂

  79. Oh this is FANTASTIC — I’ve been desperate to have something to fill the Louise Penny void. For me, though, I’ve also gobbled up every single one in the double digits series of the intrepid British female archeologist Amelia Peabody. Written by Elizabeth Peters this fantastic series spans decades in the lives of a family you will fall in love with and root for and cry over and it’s mystery and history and the most fantastic fun all at once.

  80. Alison says:

    I recently read A Rising Man, first in the Sam Wyndham series by Abir Mukherjee. The rest of the series is on my list now. Really good.

  81. Angela Frith says:

    I love Iain Pears’ Jonathan Argyll series! They aren’t too gory, include character development and relationships, and have lots of art history.

  82. Sharon Hardin says:

    I am reading through Louise Penny’s series as fast as I can, thanks to the recommendation of a friend who owns them all and I can borrow! I can’t wait to start one of these other series. I have read all of the Galbraith/Rowling series and highly recommend them. Thanks, as always, for your recommendations.

  83. I LOVE Louise Penny’s series! I even went to Knowlton last year, where she lives in the Canadian Eastern Townships, and which is a source of Three Pines. In fact, you have Three Pines signs in the village, a really cool place.
    So, yes, it’s tough to wait for the next book!
    I would highly recommend the Adamsberg series by Fred Vargas: https://www.goodreads.com/series/49958-commissaire-adamsberg
    They have all been translated in English.
    I also enjoy a lot the series by Mark Pryor, I just reviewed the last one: https://wordsandpeace.com/2019/02/05/book-review-the-book-artist/

  84. Jewett Powers says:

    I really like these ideas because I can hardly wait until the next Louise Penny comes out. She only had two out when I found her and I eagerly awaited the next one each time. I am the same way with the two main series by John Sandford.

  85. Brooke says:

    I have to sincerely thank you for introducing me to these books. I finally started the series in the fall of 2018 and I was deeply in love straight away! I wish I could live in Three Pines! I’m trying to pace myself so that I don’t blow through them too quickly, but it is difficult because I am obsessed with this series. So, thank you so much!

  86. April aguinaga says:

    I love the Gamache series, I love quirky books. I love learning about new series plus so many I’ve read over the years. I recommend Laura Lippmann who writes Tess Monaghan series first book is called Baltimore Blues.
    A great site to keep track of series is http://stopyourekillingme.com as it lists by both author and charcters. https://fictfact.com helps keep track of new addition to series you log on it. It’s free to use. Thank for this great chain

  87. Pam says:

    Thanks for this list! I’m a fan of the Robert Galbraith series, and have just started on Louise Penny’s mysteries. Another great mystery series is by William Kent Krueger, focusing on the life of lawman / PI Corcoran O’Conner, who lives near the Boundary Waters in northern Minnesota. There are 17 books in the series now, the first is Iron Lake, published in 1998. They are also great on audio. Be sure to read them in order – enjoy!

  88. Judy R says:

    I love Louise Penny books and am on my third time reading through the series. I get more out of them each time. I wish I lived in Three Pines with Clara, Myrna, Olivier,Gabri and even Ruth! Louise Penny writes a lovely monthly newsletter that helps me with the wait between books ( I’m FINE)
    I also recommend books by Robert Galbraith and Charles Todd. I also love Alan Bradley’ s Flavia de Luce series and Stephanie Barron’s Jane Austen series.

  89. AnneL says:

    Two series not mentioned above: Phil Rickman’s “Merrily Watkins” series about a female vicar in Herefordshire has some of the smalltown warmth of the Penny books combined with a gothic/thriller/supernatural aspect that reminds me a bit of John Bellairs’s books for kids.
    Also, Craig Rice’s Malone series was just released on digital. Comedy mysteries from the 1940’s with characters running around Chicago with colorfully named gangsters and drinking rye at dive bars.

  90. CeeSnow says:

    Thank you for all the great suggestions, I am part way through Donna Leon’s Brunetti series and as a result looking forward to a visit to Venice. I have very much enjoyed Susan Hill’s books featuring Simon Serrailler (best read in order) and Sophie Hannah’s Culver Valley crime series, very well plotted psychological thrillers often entering rounds characters that could be the people next door

  91. Wendy says:

    I am going to read the Louise Penny series. I have read all the Charles Todd books. I just finished the last one a couple of weeks ago. They are great. Did you start with the very first book in the Louise Penny series?

  92. Beth Norton says:

    I’m absolutely loving the Veronica Speedwell Series by Deanna Raybourn. Veronica is one of my favorite heroine/detectives. Another great series is the Lady Sherlock books by Sherry Thomas. Both are AMAZING!

  93. Katy says:

    Bless you! LOVE Maisie Dobbs!!! And Gamache! And I’m always looking for others to fill in while I wait very impatiently for the next books!

  94. Dana Kumerow says:

    I highly recommend PD James’ Adam Dalgleish novels. They are extraordinarily well written mysteries. They read like well-written novels that happen to have a murder mystery in them. Dalgleish is a complicated character who grows over the series. I recommend reading them in order.

  95. Cynthia Vengraitis says:

    I love and have read all the Martha Grimes Richard Jury mysteries. They do need to be read in order like most good series so you can get to know the characters. Jury has the same great sidekicks and neighbors helping in each book, good local color and humor, and confounding enough crimes. For a point of reference I’ve read ALL of: Winspear, PD James, Camilla Lackberg, French, Grafton, Ann Granger, Sara Paretsky…among others.

  96. Rhonda says:

    Oh my! You all have filled my book list for years with all of these fantastic recommendations! Listening to the stories about Three Pines from Audible has been fantastic. I’ve loved them! Now I have a great new list of reads to dive into! And so many of my favorites mentioned as well! Audible is running a sale on the first book in many series’ right now (February 20, 2019). I found several mentioned in this thread on sale for less than $8!

  97. Jane S. says:

    Any Martha Grimes fans ot there? Start with THE MAN WITH A LOAD OF MISCHIEF. Wonderful, wonderful continuing characters and crimes!

  98. Ang D says:

    I don’t know if they even fit this category but I love Tasha Alexander’s Lady Emily books. There’s always an interesting mystery and I’ve loved following Lady Emily’s story. Another person I’ve discovered is Anna Lee Huber’s Lady Darby Mysteries. I just find both lead characters in these books interesting. What’s great is that the story carries the books, nothing crazy in any of them which I personally like. They are also both set during historical periods I find fascinating. The Lady Emily Books tend to travel to other countries. The Lady Darby books stay in the UK.

  99. Lauren says:

    After years of hearing about Inspector Gamache books from you and others, I finally read book 1 in January. I just finished book 3 today. I’m going to try realllllly hard to pace myself and not fly through the series….but I just requested the next four from my library!

  100. Ginger Maher says:

    So when you read a series of books like the wonderful Louise Penny mysteries, do you read them one after another until you reach the newest one or do you read other books in between??

  101. Pam says:

    For a strong setting, interesting characters and good plots, I’d recommend the Alex McKnight series by Steve Hamilton. The first book is entitled “A Cold Day in Paradise”. There are 10 books in the series to date. These are hard-boiled mysteries, so on the gritty side. Just the way I like ‘em.

  102. Brucie mintz says:

    I was glad to see you mention charles Todd but I think “his”(it’s really a mother and son team) inspector Rutledge series is better written. With regard to Bess Crawford, when oh when will she and Simon make some progress? Another mystery series with a lot of emphasis on families and relationships is Margaret maron’s Deborah knott series, starting with Bootlegger’s Daughter. These are set in North Carolina.

    • Melanie says:

      I’m in the middle of Maisie Dobbs on audio and it is fantastic! I’m a sucker for anything British. ? I also second the Bess Crawford series!

    • Rose Ann Moon says:

      I was just about to recommend Inspector Rutledge!! A very intelligent series, in my opinion. I am all caught up and eagerly await the next for both Rutledge and Bess. I am beginning to wonder about Bess and Simon myself.
      Another series I read faithfully….actually I listen if at all possible….is the Dave Robichaux series by James Lee Burke. Excellently read by Will Paxton.

  103. Vger says:

    A series I’m recommending, is written by Ronald Balson. The first book is called Once When We Were Brothers. It’s about a holocaust survivor recognizing a wealthy member of the Chicago community as someone who was a Nazi and with the help of the two protagonists that are in each book in the series, lawyer Catherine Lockhart and p.i. Liam Taggert, they work to bring him to justice. There are now 5 books in the series. I just finished the first book and downloaded the 2nd book. The narrator is fabulous if you’re an Audible reader.

  104. Nancy Sackett says:

    Louise Penny and Diana Gabaldon are my favorite authors (after Jane Austin and the Bronte sisters!). I enjoy quality prose, atmosphere, research,and plot construction. Louise and Diana create characters that remain in your head, so as time/books go forward you can look back and see how they have left a mark on you.Also it helps that both writers are in touch with their readers -kind of become part of your family, ar least the ones you like. 🙂

  105. Chris Jacobsen says:

    I LOVE LOUISE PENNY’ S SERIES!! All mysteries I’ve tried to read since starting the first book ‘Still Life’ pale in comparison. I’ve given in to my joy of reading this series. There is nowhere I’d rather spend my reading time than in Three Pines with my ‘friends’. Thank you Ann for turning me on to LP. Looking forward to reading the other authors in this blog…..BTW…..I read Maisie Dobbs. It, too, was a wonderful read. That was a recommended read from you as well. Love you to the moon, Ann…

  106. Beth Schmelzer says:

    Don’t forget Anne Cleeves, the author of Vera and Shetland novels about Scotland (and TV shows.) Louise and Anne are friendly and appear together.

  107. Gretchen Wells-DelSavio says:

    Love that I got so many reccomendations.I have to say I love MCBeaton for the Agatha Raisin books and Hamish McBeth .Silly funny and light

  108. Deanna says:

    I’m surprised that no one has mentioned the Kinsey Millhone series, starting with A is for Alibi. It is wonderful, and sad that ‘the alphabet ends with Y’ due to author Sue Grafton’s death.

    • Kelty says:

      I was going to say the same! I loved the Sue Grafton Alphabet series. And I get sad every time I remember there will be no “Z”

      Kinsey Millhone is such a great character and Ms. Grafton managed to keep her interesting for 25 books.

    • Pam says:

      Yes, this was a personal favourite of mine, too. Started reading these books shortly after they came out. I wanted to be Kinsey, live in her garage apartment, eat Henry’s baking, and avoid eating at Rosie’s. I just finished reading “Y is for Yesterday” a few days ago. I bought it when it came out, but after Ms. Grafton died, i didn’t have the heart to read it right away. I own the entire series, so I may start over now!

  109. Doug says:

    I have read and enjoyed all of Louise Penny’s Inspector Gamache books. Three Pines is such an intriguing part of all the books. I started reading her books after reading all of the books by Martha Grimes. The style of writing by Louise Penny, was for me reminiscent of Martha Grimes.

  110. Teresa Kasch says:

    These are two series I loved…Victoria Thompson’s GASLIGHT MYSTERIES and Earlene Fowler’s BENNI HARPER MYSTERY SERIES!

  111. Dale Mansill says:

    As soon as I read Louise Penny’s first book I immediately ordered the rest from the library. Some I read in 2 days. I am waiting impatiently for” Kingdom of the Blind”to be ready, thinking: what’s next. Was very happy to get a list of other likeminded authors.

  112. Megan says:

    Thanks for all the suggestions (in post and comments)!
    Another suggestion would be the Raleigh Harmon series by Sibella Giorello. She is now an indie author but Raleigh is one of my favourite characters ever. She doesn’t delve into the psychological aspects of crime like Chief Inspector Gamache but she is definitely a spunky character with a background in forensic geology (and the cases always makes use of this which is fascinating). Like Louise Penny’s books, the supporting characters are loveable as well and I usually get a chuckle out of certain interactions. Giorello has actually made 3 series now with Raleigh, so start with Stones Cry Out (the FBI series) then follow it with the YA series (for more background on Raleigh as a teen) and then the PI series.

  113. Sarah says:

    For those trying to keep track I’ve started the list and added a few of my favorites as well. I stopped about halfway through though.

    MJ Carter’s Blake & Avery
    Elly Griffiths
    A.D Scott
    Benjamin Black
    Jussi Adler Olsen
    Ian Rankin
    Alan Bradley (Canadian)
    Peggy Blair (Canadian)
    P.D. James
    Frieda Klein
    Laurie R. King
    Daniel Silva
    Peter Robinson
    Candice Fox (Highly recommend—Australian author)
    Candice Fox and James Patterson (don’t be put off by Patterson’s name -it’s very Candice Fox)
    Gail Bowen
    Donna Leon
    Martha Grimes
    Angela Marsons
    Robert Brynzda
    Below are some authors of modern fantasy/magical that were great:
    Paul Cornell
    Ben Aaronovitch
    Benedict Jacka

  114. Karen says:

    Thanks for all the recommendations, and the warnings. The Julia Spencer-Fleming and Agatha Raisin books sound good to me. I love Flavia de Luce, many thanks to me niece Jennifer for recommending them, though sometimes the sibling spats get out of hand. I’m rationing them since I understand Alan Bradley has said this book will be the last one about Flavia and Company. I want to make them last as long as possible. I’ve started several of the series mentioned here, but dropped them when they got to dark, or grisly, or both, like Anne Perry. So dark and grim they were depressing. I read Elizabeth George’s book A Great Deliverance a long time ago and found the story so horrible it took me several days to get over it. I’m not good with graphic violence, perversion, and sexual abuse. It keeps me awake at night. My all-time favorite series is Dorothy Sayers’ Lord Peter Wimsey books. I love Peter and Harriet. They’re so intelligent, and witty, and vulnerable. I did not care for Jill Paton Walsh’s finishing Thrones, Denominations. It just didn’t ring true for me. And besides – what sacrilege! I don’t like writers making real historical people their detectives, and endowing them with thoughts they never thought and things they never said. It’s trading on someone’s name and reputation when they aren’t around to defend themselves. Oh, dear, I seem to have gotten up on my soapbox. This is only my humble opinion, and everyone has a right to their own. I like Donna Leon’s Inspector Guido Benetti, though some of them are darker than I care for. Otherwise I like older mysteries more: Richard and Frances Lockridge’s Mr. and Mrs. North series, Margery Allingham’s Edmond Campion series, Josephine Tey’s Inspector Grant, Dorothy Gilman’s Mrs. Pollifax, the pre Brother Cadfael mysteries by Ellis Peters about Inspector Felse and family, Iaian Pears’ Jonathan Argyll mysteries. Well, that’s probably more than enough from me!

  115. Kathy says:

    Really enjoyed this post. Love Inspector Gamache and Maisie Dobbs! I also recommend Victoria Thompson’s Gaslight series. Thanks for your recommendations and those mentioned by the commenters.

  116. Meaghan says:

    This summer I discovered and fell madly in love with the Flavia de Luce novels by Alan Bradley. Another series with standalone mysteries, but I think the real magic lies in the characters you come to know in each novel. Gotta read ’em in order!

  117. Judy says:

    Oh! Thanks so much for this list. My 2018 reading goal was to read all of the Gamache series, and I loved it! My 2019 goal is to read 19 books from my shelves, kindle and physical, and to not bring any new books to my shelves excepting for bookclub. I will bookmark this list- maybe ill finish my goal soon and I will find a new mystery passion!

  118. Susan Mendiola says:

    I would recommend the other Charles Todd series featuring Scotland yard detective Ian Rutledge. Like the Bess Crawford series it is set just after WW1.

  119. Marlizette Badenhorst says:

    The Louise Penny novels have been on my to-read list for a while and now I’m even more excited to start reading them. In addition to this, Patricia Cornwell has always been a firm favorite of mine, have you read any of her Kay Scarpetta series?

  120. Christine says:

    I, too, have enjoyed all of Elizabeth George’s Inspector Lynley series, Robert Galbraith, Louise Penny, and Laurie R. King — all in audio. The Kate Shugak series by Dana Stabenow has 21 books of very entertaining mysteries in Alaska. Start with A Cold Day for Murder to get the full story of characters who appear throughout the series.

  121. Alicia says:

    I fell in love with Louise Penny just a couple weeks ago because Inspector Gamache reminds me of my favorite spy, Gabriel Allon. He’s the focus of quite a long series by Daniel Silva. Both men are thinkers and consider their actions carefully. They also see what others don’t. I recommend trying those, as well!

  122. Shalini says:

    Will embark on Penny…my absolute favourite are Dorothy Sayers, Colin Dexter… Elizabeth George writes beautifully though the books are long and not so gripping. I also enjoyed Agatha Raisin and some cozy mysteries.

  123. Elizabeth says:

    I do not like graphic or child murder mysteries, so I really loved all of the Charles Todd’s Bess Crawford series and the Maisie Dobbs books. Victoria Thompson also writes a delightful mystery series called The Gaslight Mysteries and there are almost twenty books I think, which are all delightful and filled with engaging characters.

  124. Dana says:

    I totally agree that Penny hit her stride with book 4! Someone shared one of her posts and book 15 should be out in August, which excites me. I am sad to say that book 14 was a total let down for me after the excitement and power of books 12 & 13. Book 14 was just to blah of a follow up from that action! But I love 3 Pines and the whole cast of characters!

  125. Becca says:

    I recommend the Rev. Clare Fergussen & Russ Van Alstyne mysteries by Julia Spencer-Fleming. She’s an Episcopal priest new in town, he’s the town cop. It’s not religious, but it has the echo of spirituality that I think Louise Penny has as well. The series starts with In the Bleak Midwinter. I also recommend the series by Kate Atkinson that starts with Case Histories. Apologies if this has been posted elsewhere in this thread. Lots of great recommendations that I’ll be trying!

  126. Celeste says:

    Love this post…my current read (Maisie Dobbs), an old favorite (Elizabeth George), 5 from my TBR (including Penny) and 1 new series to add (Charles Todd).

  127. Suzanne says:

    Wow,such great suggestions! I do have to say, I think Charles Todd’s Inpector Rutledge series is better than the Bess Crawford series. After book 3, Inspector Rutledge hits it’s stride and is un-put-downable. I just can’t do the Anne Perry books because of her personal history. An older, but really fun, series is the Elizabeth Peter’s Amelia Peabody Mysteries. (One note- the series went on a little too long; I think maybe her mind started to go a little towards the end.) A family favorite of our’s is the way too short Southern Sisters series by Anne George. (She passed away after only 8 books.) Laugh out loud funny, and so relatable if you’re from the South.

  128. Laurie says:

    The Kate Burkholder series by Linda Castillo is similar to the Rev. Clare Ferguson series by Julia Spencer-Fleming. The main character is a formerly-Amish female chief of police in a small town in Ohio’s Amish country. Strong sense of place and strong character relationships but not as literary as Louise Penny. Some murders might be too graphic for sensitive readers. I think there are 10 books plus a handful of short stories, next book due in summer.

    • Vicki B says:

      I was just going to recommend this series also, I have read all of Castillo`s books. They can be gruesome in detail, but Kate Burkholder digs deep to solve the crimes. The narrator does a great job with the Pennsylvania Dutch interactions of the local Amish folk.

  129. Alicia says:

    I am a huge Louise Penny fan and miss them in between. I found a few other series to keep me busy; Martin Walker’s Bruno, Chief of Police series and Charlaine Harris’s Aurora Teagarden series.

  130. Charleen says:

    I started with Jacqueline Winespear years ago, before I found Louise Penny, and have really enjoyed them. I think I have read at least one book from the authors you listed and now I will go back and look for subsequent titles from them. Thank you for more “reads”, I have only been listening to audiobooks lately.

  131. Becki says:

    Some time ago Louise Penny recommended the Li Du mysteries by Elsa Hart – there are three books in the series now, and they keep getting better. The main character is a Chinese monk banished from imperial Beijing, in 1708. The stories are so interesting, and the mysteries so satisfying.

  132. Jodi Frederick says:

    I thoroughly enjoyed Penny’s first and second novels. But the third seemed to have even more f-bombs than the first two, which I thought were excessive. Can someone tell me if the rest are the same or, hopefully, better? I miss Inspector Gamache and Three Pines but I can’t listen to that language.

  133. Charisse DeLima says:

    Thank you so much for doing this. I now have a huge list of books to read after looking at all these suggestions.
    I recommend the Anna Pigeon series by Navada Barr. I have just recently discovered her and really love her style. I also love the fact Anna is a park ranger and so I feel like I get to hike the trails and camp along with her.

  134. Diane Walli says:

    For those who enjoy English authors Ruth Rendell is an author I have enjoyed for many years. She also writes under the name Barbara Vine. She has a series as well as many stand alone books.
    I would also recommend the web site “Stop You’re Killing Me”. The site allows one to look up books under either the author or the main character(s). The books are listed in order of publication which is especially helpful when books from other countries are not published in order in the U.S..

  135. Laurel Bandi says:

    I enjoyed reading all of your suggestions. I have enjoyed many of the series mentioned, and have found some new ones to read!! I enjoyed a Swedish series by Camilla Lackberg last year. Other Louise Penny fans may like her books too!

  136. Christie Kline says:

    I enjoy the Longmire series. They don’t have to be read in order (I started with #7 then jumped back to the beginning) but relationships do evolve over time and proper chronology would be helpful. Sheriff Longmire is the head of a small county police force in (one of the) Dakotas. He’s best pals with a Native American bar owner of few words but who is always rolling his eyes at the sheriff and society. The deputy that gets the most attention is a bad-mouthed, tough as nails woman from Philadelphia. The crimes are interesting, the characters have depth and are fun, and I always learn a little about a group of people I never knew existed before. Plus, then you can go watch the TV show (which I haven’t gotten around to). I’ve experienced these on audio and I very much enjoy the voice of George Guidall (wow! I’m surprised to see how much else he has narrated!).

    • LoriB says:

      I kept wondering why I hadn’t seen the Longmire mysteries earlier in the list. I never thought I’d be interested in stories about a small-town sheriff, but the stories were fascinating and I came to feel like the characters were my family. I promise that you will love this series!

  137. LB says:

    Sam Wyndham series by Abir Mukherjee. The series takes place in Calcutta after WWI and revolves around a Scotland Yard inspector and cross-cultural interactions under late British colonialism. Quite well done.

    • N.J. says:

      Check out THE STRANGLER VINE by M.J.Carter. Another good read in India. The
      second book-THE LAST INFIDEL STAIN takes them back to London which I did not
      enjoy as much. The story and writing is excellent but it lacked the aura of
      a foreign culture and country.

  138. Jennifer J Geisler says:

    Ah, don’t forget the newish series (now 3 books long) by Elsa Hart. The first in the series is Jade Dragon Mountain. The main character is exiled 18th century Imperial librarian, Li Du, who was sent into exile when a group of close friends were found guilty of trying to overthrow the Emperor. The book opens as Li Du arrives in the last outpost on the edge of China, to find a Jesuit astronomer murdered. Given the pending visit from the Emperor, everyone wants to forget the murder, but Li Du will not be stopped from trying to unravel the mystery. Beautifully written, with lush descriptions of the surrounding landscape and the gorgeous decorations put up for the coming visit, interesting characters and a puzzle to solve. I immediately snapped up the next two books in the series.

  139. RJ says:

    I found out about Louise Penny last fall, and I started the first book in late Sept/early Oct and just finished the latest one earlier this month (Feb). I was wondering what to do about fiction reading until the next came out — haha!

  140. Kimberly says:

    I took your recommendation on Murder at La Fenice and am reading it now. I love it! One of the best mysteries I have read in a great while!

  141. HOW ARE YOU NOT READING RUTH RENDELL?! I don’t think you’ve ever mentioned one of her books, and she wrote dozens, including a series featuring Inspector Wexford, a detective in a (fictional) British town whose mystery investigations are interwoven with his literary musings and his life as the father of two daughters whose adult lives are prone to drama. Most of his mysteries are murder but usually not too gruesome. The series doesn’t have to be read in order, but if you want to, the first book is From Doon with Death, which I reviewed here.

  142. Jennifer O. says:

    I’m guessing this might have already been suggested, since there are 280 comments and I haven’t read them all, but Alan Bradley’s Flavia de Luce series would also be a good substitute. I’ve been reading them slowly, similar to the way I read the Gamache series. (Also Jean-Guy is my favorite character and that was sometimes too stressful to go slowly – I’m so glad those books were already out and I didn’t need to wait a year.)

  143. Christy says:

    You WILL love Elizabeth George! By the time you finish the first book, you will wish there were 40 more! I have George withdrawal as well as Penny withdrawal! Then there’s Martha Grimes, Sue Grafton, Patricia Cornwell as well as P.D. James and Ngaio Marsh. Enjoy!

  144. Sassy Apple says:

    I didn’t read all 280+ comments, but I love all the suggestions I did read 🙂
    A series I didn’t see mentioned was the Phryne Fisher mysteries by Kerry Greenwood.
    Set in post WWI Australia, they are addictive. If you’ve seen the show on Netflix, the books are SO much better. Now, in comparison to the Gamache novels, there’s more sex, but you become invested in the characters. If nothing else, read them for the delicious descriptions of Phyryne’s wardrobe (the Netflix series did get that right!)

  145. Nicola J. says:

    So glad she has been discovered… Originally I watched the BBC production
    of STILL LIFE. Gamache was played by Inspector Lynley of Elizabeth George
    fame! So I am not surprised by your other recommendations. I might add
    a author I just found , Elly Griffiths- an archeologist whom works with the
    Norfolk police. Another older author is Peter Lovesey. Of course Martha Grimes
    too. They all involve several characters which build as you read additional
    titles. Not as gritty as Louise Penny but definitely Good Reads. Thank you I
    shall look at Tina French again.

  146. Kate says:

    Love your list. Especially as I wait for Penny’s latest, pre-ordered from Amazon.
    Would you consider adding the divine Denise Mina to your list.
    Her writing is addictive.

  147. Nancy Long says:

    Martha Hrimes Richard Jury series is a wonderful cozy series also with great characters. Best to read in order.

  148. Robin Holbrook says:

    I am just about to start GLASS HOUSES. But I will stretch out the time by reading a few books in between. I’m so addicted to these characters I actually start talking to my daughter about them like they are REAL people! Luckily she is reading them, too! I’ve never read mysteries so beautifully written except for Wilkie Collins. And, quite honestly, I think Miss Penny even masters him! She also raises the mystery to true literature!
    Unfortunately, I’ve tried most of your suggestions and found them lacking. And I’ve exhausted Sherlock, Miss Sayers, du Maurier, and several others… even reading Collins for the umpteenth time! (THE WOMAN IN WHITE)

  149. Nicola says:

    Aside from Maisie Dobbs, are there others on this list that you would consider a gentler mystery? I read the first two Galbraith, and those were… really engrossing, but then the second was really engrossing and really gross. I’d really rather read a mystery like Gaudy Night by Dorothy Sayers, or even the earlier Lord Whimsy novels… I don’t think I can handle really twisty psychological thrillers or really gruesome murders. I also liked A Borrowing of Bones by Paula Munier – technically a series, but this is the first and only so far. I’m planning to try Maisie Dobbs, but are there any others from this list that might be worth trying? From other comments, I’ve ruled out Tana French.

  150. Jen says:

    Would love for you to interview her one day! Also would like a similar list for waiting for the next Maisie Dobbs book! Was looking for a panteon link to support buy couldn’t find it. Thanks

  151. judy says:

    i read a lot- almost a book a day. i constantly run out of what to read. i confess to my addiction. now i have over 30 new series/authors! yay! thank you all so much.

  152. Kuheli says:

    I recently came across your blog and I love it. Have you read the Wesley Peterson series by Kate Ellis? I like how it blends history and mystery, past and present, facts and fiction.

  153. Lovely Mrs E says:

    I just read Still Life and am looking forward to the next one. I highly recommend the Frieda Klein books by Nicci French. Frieda is a very interesting main character…psychotherapist turned part time detective. Set in present day London. Has a continuing storyline throughout the book and well rounded and likeable supporting characters.

  154. Deborah Williamson says:

    Someone mentioned Martha Grimes – I’ve read all of her Richard Jury mysteries. There are aspects of his character I don’t particularly like, but another character, Melrose Plant, is one of my all-time favorites. He’s a bored English lord who first appears in The Man with a Load of Mischief (all of the books in the series are titled from British pubs). Melrose is funny and brilliant, and I like him more than the main character, Inspector Jury. Fortunately, he appears in, I think, all of Grimes’ Jury novels. One complaint about Grimes is that her plots are sometimes weakly convoluted – hard to explain, but that’s the only way I can think to describe them. Melrose Plant and some other entertaining characters make up for that, though.
    About Tana French, I read Faithful Place several years ago and recently suggested it to my sister as a vacation read. She agreed with me that it was a difficult but engrossing read – not sure if I ever want to read another TF novel.
    Laurie R King’s Holmes & Russell books have been among my favorites for years – and I eagerly anticipate new ones. She’s brilliant and gives new dimensions to Doyle’s famously “detached” detective.
    For me, Elizabeth George is difficult to plod through and not worth the effort, although I liked the Inspector Lynley films (even though I wearied of him and his emotional weakness).
    I may give the Louise Penny and Maisie Dobbs novels a try since they have so many positive comments here. However, I’ll be skipping the Galbreath/Rowling stories, though, as I’m not into creating horrendous nightmares for myself.

  155. CarolK says:

    A different kind of mystery writer, but one whose books have a very strong sense of place, is Jane Haddam. I enjoy her a lot.

  156. Kathy F says:

    You are a lifesaver! Have caught up on both Louise Penny AND Elizabeth George and going on vacation where we’ll be ‘unplugged’.Can’t wait to try your recommendations. Have already placed some on hold at my library! Thanks!

  157. Kristin Flierl says:

    Barker & Llewelyn series by Will Thomas. Not sure how the books “read”. Have only listened to audio versions.

  158. Judy Gibson says:

    I’ve recently re-read Laurie R. King’s series about Mary Russell and Sherlock Holmes that begins with Beekeeper’s Apprentice. A strong, smart young woman meets Sherlock Holmes in his retirement and he finds her to be his match. I think the series is four or five books long and as good the second time through as it was the first time.

  159. Jo Yates says:

    Julia Keller’s Bell Elkins series is similar to the Inspector Gamache series. They are set in a small community in West Virginia ravaged by unemployment and the opioid crisis, and they also deal with the internal and interpersonal relationships of the main characters. The first book is A Killing in the Hills, and I think they are best read in order.

  160. WJ Davis says:

    A Better Man is terrible. Potty mouthed, missing character profiles and relationships, few scenic descriptions.
    What happened?

  161. Barbara says:

    I’m a huge fan of Donna Leon’s series in Venice. Also recommend Barbara Hambley’s series w/Benjamin January (Free Man of Color), set in mid-1800s New Orleans. Others, in no particular order: Charlaine Harris’s Lily Bard series; Michael Connolly’s series (3 now); Margaret Maron’s series w/Deborah Knott and w/Sigrid Harold; Thomas Perry (Jane Whitefield); and oldies-but-goodies Marcia Muller and Sara Paretsky, who keep getting better (IMHO).

  162. Annie Haynes says:

    Thanks for putting together a great list. And thanks to everyone who added suggestions. I would add James Lee Burke’s Dave Robicheaux series set in New Orleans area. And Craig Johnson’s Walt Longmire series set in Wyoming. Both have exceptional characterization and vivid description.

  163. charlotte ervine says:

    Craig Johnson’s Walt Longmire series. Start with The Cold Dish and you will be hooked. Read in order is best. Set in Wyoming. Also, an older series is by Dick Francis, set in England’s horse racing world.

  164. Karen Turner says:

    I really love the Shetland Island series from Ann Cleeves. There is also a lot of character development in this series. There is a TV series loosely based on these books. Although it is very good also, it doesn’t really follow the books.

  165. Carol Martancik says:

    Loved this post..will help me through the winter pandemic. Stumbled on Rennie Airth and his John Madden series…loved them.

  166. CHANDLER says:


  167. Susan says:

    My favorites after Penny and Winspear–all featuring women protagonists, character development and interesting info apart from the mystery plot:
    Julia Spencer-Fleming: 9 book-series Russ Van Alstyne and Clare Fergusson(Episcopal priest and Police Chief)
    Laura Lippman: Tess Monaghan series (Baltimore)
    Laurie King: Mary Russell/Sherlock Holmes series
    Nevada Barr: Anna Pigeon (National Parks)
    Dana Stabenow: Kate Shugak series (Alaska)
    Sujata Massey: the early books of her Rei Shimura series (Japan)
    and if you love dialogue and food, nobody does it better than Robert Parker in his original Spenser series

  168. Elaine Aschbacher says:

    I really liked Elizabeth George’s first few books until she killed off a main character. That cut it for me. Also she needed better editing. I miss the storyline behind Barbara Heavers though, great character throughout the series.

  169. JLeake says:

    Thank You for reading and writing this! After A Better Man, I was at loose ends – Ann Cleeve got put in the Good Will box with only three chapters read.

  170. Anna Penney says:

    Thank you for your recommendations. I have read all of Louise Penny’s books and they certainly got me through being at home so much due to the pandemic. It was from a recommendation that if you enjoyed her books you would certainly enjoy books by Martin Walker. I have now read most of that series and I would certainly recommend the Bruno series to anyone who enjoys a great police series. One other author you might be interested in is M. L. Longworth who write the Verlaque and Bonnet series of detective novels that take place in Aix-en-Provence.

  171. Lyne Montsion says:

    I would recommend another fantastic Canadian writer: Linwood Barclays, plus Karen Slaughter (especially the Will Trent séries as well as her excellent stand alone novels). Also the Australian Jane Harper, relatively new on the scene.

  172. Sandra Burrows says:

    Three more mystery writers I would recommend are
    1. Jill Downie’s Moretti and Falla series available from Dundurn Press in Toronto–police dramas set on Guernsey
    2. Erin Hart’s Nora Gavin and Cormac Maguire series set in Ireland
    3. Anna Lee Huber’s Lady Darby series set in the early 19th c about an former anatomist’s wife, mentioned by Ang D. above

  173. Kathy says:

    M.L. Longworth series. They take place in Aix in Provence, with wonderful characters, just like with Louise Penny’s books. The scenery, the food, the croissants, takes you right there!

  174. Michelle says:

    Peter Grainger and his Inspector Smith Investigations. Brilliant…. Inspector Gamache and Inspector Smith are birds of a feather.

  175. Kim says:

    I saw PD James mentioned once, and felt it necessary to mention her again. I find her to be most like Louise Penney in her sensitive treatment of the psychology of victim and perpetrator and insights into the nuance of human nature.

  176. Anna Penney says:

    I thoroughly recommend the Martin Walker Bruno Chief of Police Series of Books.

    Bruno, Chief of Police Series
    Martin Walker
    THE DELIGHTFUL, INTERNATIONALLY ACCLAIMED SERIES FEATURING BRUNO, CHIEF OF POLICE. Benoît Courrèges, aka Bruno, is a former soldier turned policeman, who has embraced the pleasures and slow rhythms of country life in the idyllic village of St. Denis in the South of France. But a series of murders, intrigues, and other crimes soon interrupt his peace and quiet. In the Mystery of the French Countryside novels, Bruno must balance his beloved routines—living in his restored shepherd’s cottage, shopping at the local market, drinking wine—with his thrilling detective duties.

  177. Linda Andrecheck says:

    I absolutely am entralled with Louise Penny’s books and that she and the location for most of the stories are Canadian makes it just even better. It is really hard to find someone who creates characters with such believability. If you enjoy her books, you may also want to check out Elly Griffiths.

  178. Claudia says:

    I love the Vera and Shetland series by Ann Cleeves! Her newest series features Det. Matthew Venn. So far there are 2 in that series. Shetland needs to be read in order for the character development and the Vera books can be read as stand alones. Haven’t done any of the Bess Crawford or Maisie Dobbs and look forward to getting started with them!

  179. Zoe Morgan says:

    It always shocks me that I never see Martin Walker’s Bruno Chief of Police series in here! They are wonderful – set in the Dordogne region of France, with an incredible main character with a strong moral compass, amazing food, and a lot of ‘what it’s like to live in the french countryside’ vibes.

  180. Gayle says:

    A friend introduced me to Louise Penny novels with the publication of A Still Life and I have eagerly anticipated her new releases every August. I don’t remember how I found CJ Box’s Joe Pickett series but I have finally finished his latest, #21. Joe Pickett is a Wyoming game warden with a penchant for finding himself in a quandry.

  181. Ellen Smkith says:

    The Lane Winslow mysteries by Iona Whisaw are wonderful. They take place in a small British Colombia village with a cast of characters who are as quirky as those who live in Three Pines. The first in the series (of currently 8 titles) is A Killing in King’s Cove

  182. Marla Mc says:

    I’m a huge fan of Anne Perry and have been for years. More recently, I’ve become a fan of Anna Lee Huber. I also love Marcia Muller and Jane Haddam.

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