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

All out of Louise Penny novels? Here are authors you may enjoy reading while waiting for the next installment in the Inspector Gamache series.

Many years ago, two Canadian readers—one a friend, one a blog reader—convinced me to give Louise Penny a try. I was hooked on the Chief Inspector Armand Gamache series from the start.

Her first book, Still Life, was published way back in 1990, but I didn’t begin reading the series myself 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 five or six mysteries published already. I so thoroughly enjoyed 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!).

For those new to Inspector Gamache: 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. Despite those disclaimers, this series unfolds best for the reader when they are read in order. The mysteries stand alone, but fans love Penny for the way her stories operate on two planes: well-crafted procedurals on one level, the absorbing relational dramas of her characters on the other. Those who jump in mid-series will miss out on the significance of the relational plots.

There are now seventeen novels in the series, with A World of Curiosities, number 18, slated to release November 29. I can’t wait. I relished catching up with the series when I first found it—a task that is now daunting for those new to Louise Penny—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—and because I’m not alone in my plight, I’m sharing mystery series Louise Penny fans may enjoy reading next while waiting for the next Inspector Gamache book to come out. These series are readalikes in the sense that they are 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. For more on this topic, listen to What Should I Read Next Episode 323: Series to cure your Louise Penny hangover.

Series openers to read next after you've burned through all the Louise Penny novels
Case Histories (Jackson Brodie Book 1)

Case Histories (Jackson Brodie Book 1)

The first book in the Jackson Brodie mystery series kicks off with private investigator Brodie following three seemingly disparate cases in Edinburgh. What do a missing little girl, an attacked office worker, and a new mother who snapped have in common? Jackson Brodie follows the threads back over the past 30 years as surprising connections emerge. This was an excellent detective novel, with good writing and strong characterization, and reminded me very much of Tana French. But like Tana French, some of the content was seriously disturbing. More info →
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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 authors 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 unlike Louise Penny, this 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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From Doon with Death: The First Inspector Wexford Mystery

From Doon with Death: The First Inspector Wexford Mystery

Ruth Rendell is renowned within the mystery genre for her popular Inspector Wexford series. This is her debut that started it all. Inspector Wexford cannot figure out why anyone would murder a timid housewife, until he happens upon her secret collection of rare books, all signed by someone named Doon. But who is Doon and what do they have to do with the victim? Rendell deftly combines police procedural with small town mystery. 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 (Duncan Kincaid & Gemma James Book 1)

A Share in Death (Duncan Kincaid & Gemma James Book 1)

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 February 2023. More info →
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Death at La Fenice (Commissario Brunetti Book 1)

Death at La Fenice (Commissario Brunetti Book 1)

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 lengthy series in order. The 31st installment came out in March 2022. More info →
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The Widows of Malabar Hill (Perveen Mistry Book 1)

The Widows of Malabar Hill (Perveen Mistry Book 1)

Reminiscent of Louise Penny with the combination of mystery and the strong relational element of this web of characters, readers love this series for its tightly-crafted murder mysteries, vividly-drawn settings, and a plucky heroine fiercely taking on the challenges of her time. Perveen Mistry is Bombay’s first female solicitor, employed by her father’s respected firm. When her father’s Muslim client dies, he is tasked with executing the will, but the three devout widows "stay behind the veil," and must not be seen by men. When the duo discover irregularities in the estate documents, Perveen resolves to speak with the widows, because—as a woman—she's the only one who can. Though not yet available for preorder, book 4 is coming our way in May 2023. More info →
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The Kill Artist (Gabriel Allon Series Book 1)

The Kill Artist (Gabriel Allon Series Book 1)

Meet Gabriel Allon, a master art restorer and sometime Israeli intelligence operative. He’s pulled back into the fray when his former boss needs his help shutting down a planned terrorist attack—and the man behind this plot is also responsible for the murder of his wife and son. An international manhunt ensues, making for a page-turning read. I’ve bounced around in this series and can testify that the books stand alone just fine—I actually haven’t read this first book yet but I plan on making it there eventually. In the meantime, there’s book 22, which came out this month. 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-ONE existing titles—to be read in order. The most recent release came out in early 2022. 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. (Sensitive readers will want to know this has a content warning for graphic sexual abuse.) More info →
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Iron Lake (Cork O’Connor Book 1)

Iron Lake (Cork O’Connor Book 1)

My husband Will is hooked on this series—and I've enjoyed reading the first few books, too. After losing his job and separating from his family in a marital dispute, Cork O’Connor can barely crawl out from under his guilt. Cork is eager to win back his family—winter in Minnesota lake country is hard enough without bitterness and loss. But when a local judge is murdered, and a friend asks Cork to find her missing son, he takes on the investigation. Town officials try to stop him at every turn, but Cork is determined to find the truth, even if that means exposing a dark secret. Part Irish, part Anishinaabe, Cork straddles two worlds and calls on friends who owe him favors in order to solve the case. Book 19 is due out on August 23. More info →
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The Unquiet Dead (Rachel Getty & Esa Khattak Book 1)

The Unquiet Dead (Rachel Getty & Esa Khattak Book 1)

This Canadian procedural series centers the investigative team of detective Esa Khattak and his assistant Rachel Getty, who are often called upon to investigate crimes in the Muslim community of Toronto, navigating cultural and political divides to do so. I beg you, do NOT read the spoiler-laden reviews of this book, or even the jacket copy! I'll just say that the pair is called in to investigate the seemingly accidental death of a wealthy local man, and it slowly becomes apparent that this crime's roots go deeper than the detectives could have dreamed. This series is now five books (plus one short story) strong; I've read three so far and am looking forward to catching up. More info →
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Bluebird, Bluebird (Highway 59 Book 1)

Bluebird, Bluebird (Highway 59 Book 1)

In this modern noir, Darren Matthews, a Black Texas Ranger, has an intricate understanding of racial tensions in East Texas. He’s proud of his roots and his family, but when his loyalty lands him in trouble, he agrees to get out of town and investigate a crime for a friend. He drives up Highway 59 to the town of Lark, where a recent murder has stirred up hatred and history. Atmospheric and intense, and terrific on audio. This one ends on a cliffhanger, so you might want to queue up the second book, Heaven, My Home, right away. Locke has promised a third book, which she says she'll begin writing when the Netflix series for her sister's adaptation of From Scratch goes into pre-production and her duties as showrunner and writer are complete. I'll try to be patient. More info →
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The Thursday Murder Club  (The Thursday Murder Club Book 1)

The Thursday Murder Club (The Thursday Murder Club Book 1)

This fun mystery reminded me so much of Angela Lansbury and Murder She Wrote, and holds appeal for readers aged 18 to 80-something and beyond. It's set in a retirement community, where four friends meet in the Jigsaw Room every week to chat about unsolved crimes. This group of 70-somethings call themselves "The Thursday Murder Club." When bodies start piling up in a live and local case, they set out to catch a killer. Getting to know each elderly character and their quirks is just as delightful as solving the case alongside them. Completely charming, and the audiobooks are so well-narrated by Lesley Manville. The third installment is due out on September 20. More info →
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The Crossing Places (Ruth Galloway Series Book 1)

The Crossing Places (Ruth Galloway Series Book 1)

Dr. Ruth Galloway is dedicated to her career as a forensic archaeologist and her two cats in Norfolk. When a child’s bones are discovered on a beach, the detective calls her in for help, suspecting they may be the remains of a girl who went missing a decade prior. Instead, the bones are revealed to be from the Iron Age, drawing Ruth further into the mystery. Then a second girl goes missing and the detective receives a sinister letter. They’ll have to work fast to determine if a copycat is on the rise. Readers tell me they love the atmospheric, remote salt marsh setting, as well as Ruth’s tart tongue and promising love interests. The fourteenth book recently released. More info →
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In the Bleak Midwinter: A Clare Fergusson and Russ Van Alstyne Mystery

In the Bleak Midwinter: A Clare Fergusson and Russ Van Alstyne Mystery

When a newborn infant is left at her church door, Clare Fergusson, the new Episcopalian priest in town, strikes up a friendship with Police Chief Russ Van Alstyne. They’re both ex-Army and find they have a lot in common…but he’s married and so friendship is all that they can be. As they search for the baby’s mother, they discover troubling secrets hiding in their small Upstate New York town. The complexity of the townspeople make for an interesting contrast to the building mystery. Readers tell me they keep coming back for the way Clare and Russ navigate their friendship and how this series, currently nine books strong, explores the real human motivations that can lead to crime. 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? Tell us all about your favorites in the comments section! 

P.S. What Should I Read Next Episode 323: Series to cure your Louise Penny hangover, Get hooked on a new mystery series with these 10 addicting audiobooks, and 16 page-turning mysteries that aren’t too dark and gloomy.

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


Leave A Comment
      • Courtney says:

        I actually haven’t read Louise Penny’s series other than the first book (gasp!), but I love Maisie Dobbs and Donna Leon’s books. I started the Maisie Dobbs series when the world shut down in March 2020, and I could only visit the library via my Libby app. I got so much comfort from staying up late reading those books when the world around us was so uncertain. I’m now on book #8 in the series – Maisie is such a great, strong, fiercely independent character. I love her! And when I was in the throes of postpartum anxiety last fall after the birth of my son, I missed reading terribly but couldn’t quiet my mind enough to read. My dad, an avid reader, gently handed me Donna Leon’s first book telling me to just “start with one page” and I will forever remember it as the book that gave reading back to me during a very difficult time. It was well-written, and compelling with a wonderful Italian setting. I’m hoping to pick up Louise Penny this fall now that I am back in my reading groove. 🙂

  1. Susan says:

    Such a great list! I’m reading Elizabeth George’s series right now – and like all series some are 5 stars and some are not, however, I am enjoying them! Daniel Silva’s series is amazing! Enjoy Deborah Crombie’s, too, but I’ve only read a couple. The Thursday Murder Club – outstanding!

    • Brittany says:

      Are the other Elizabeth George novels as dark? I read A Great Deliverance but the content warnings for graphic sexual abuse is definitely warranted and it was too dark for me. I can handle Louise Penny and Deborah Crombie, but don’t love to go much darker than that (which aren’t that dark in my opinion, but more so than a cozy mystery).

    • Kris says:

      I love the complexity of the series by Elizabeth George. She always addresses a social justice issue in some way. The characters are complex, with the ensemble that is present in all the books leading the way. I find them much more complex than Deborah Crombie’s series although I enjoy them too.

  2. Tami Spence says:

    I really enjoyed the Joy Ellis books. Jackman series! I listened to all of them, 1 right after they other, as quickly as I could.

  3. Sarah says:

    I would definitely add the Inspector Bruno series by Martin Walker to the list! A recommendation from my dad, who always finds interesting mystery series. 🧡

    • Sarah says:

      And the audiobook narration, by Robert Ian MacKenzie, are especially good if it’s been a while since you’ve taken French!

    • Lee Ann says:

      We started reading the Bruno novels a couple of months ago, after we returned from a France trip that included a few days in the Perigord, the area where the books are set. He’s really good at communicating a sense of place, and the food descriptions remind me of the delicious meals we enjoyed there.

    • Kendra says:

      I just purchased the first book in this series on the recommendation of my local bookseller. She specifically said it’s her top recommendation for fans of Louise Penny. I can’t wait to read it!

  4. Dawn says:

    I love Erica Ruth’s historical mystery series starting with “Murder at the Mena House.” The main character, Jane Wunderly is a wonderful feminist character with hints of nuance and fun. The books are set in exotic locations with the first setting in Egypt, among the pyramids. Very light and entertaining series!

  5. Lora says:

    Definitely the Maisie Dobbs series! I also love The Cat Who… mysteries by Lilian Jackson Braun, the Mrs. Pollifax mysteries by Dorothy Gilman, and The Flavia Deluce series by Alan Bradley.

  6. Erin Wyman says:

    how does this list miss Alan Bradley’s Flavia de Luce series? First book is “Sweetness at the Bottom of the Pie”. 10.5 novels/novellas in all. oh how I loved listening to the audiobooks.

  7. Ellen Smith says:

    The Lane Winslow series by Iona Whishaw should be added to this list. Takes place in a small fictional town in British Columbia…quirky townsfolk, bizarre murders, former intelligence operative from England, and some romance thrown in. Eight books in the series so far.

  8. Renea says:

    I highly recommend the Lady Sherlock series by Sherry Thomas! The books are clever with a good mix of plot and character development. I always think I’ve solved the mystery, but Charlotte outsmarts me each time. There is also a slow burn romance that adds to the suspense.

  9. Carol Hansen says:

    Definitely Captain Alatriste series by Arturo Perez-Reverte. I discovered these after reading Queen of the South, one of my all time favorite books.

  10. Linda G. says:

    In addition to being entertaining I find the Louise Penny books include moral and ethical lessons. Thank you for clueing me in to the
    BookSeriesinOrder.com website.

  11. Helene Watt says:

    I am a fan of the books of Louise Penny, Tana French & I just finished Daniel Silva’s latest book, Portrait of An Unknown Woman. And thanks to the MMD Summer Book List, Widows of Malabar Hill.
    2 others not on the list by J
    J A Jance, The Joanna Brady & Ali Reynolds series are great

    • sharyn says:

      Love the Jance series Joanna Brady and Ali Reynolds; JP Beaumont not so much. Fast paced stories, strong women. Also she has a shorter series about the Walker Family which is very good.

  12. Deepa says:

    I read a few of Sue Grafton’s Kinsey Millhone books and enjoyed them. I was very sad that Grafton died just before she could get to publishing the last book, the Z in the series.

    I was so excited to read the Perveen Mistry series, because of the setting in British India and the fact that Perveen is Parsi (Zoroastrian), a community that not many people are aware of (they immigrated from Persia to India centuries ago to escape religious persecution). I read both books and was really disappointed with them. I think someone on Amazon summed it up perfectly by saying the series has a “Nancy Drew” vibe to it – plot holes, errors, and amateurish execution squandering what was such a promising premise.

    • Suzy says:

      I was disappointed in the Parveen Mistry book, too, and won’t be reading any more.
      But I heartily recommend, along with you, the Sue Grafton Alphabet series with Kinsey Milhone! I’ve read them all and they’re just great! Audio, too. I forgot about those. It’s nice to follow a woman PI.

  13. Angela S says:

    For a very strong sense of place I love the Lewis Trilogy by Peter May, starting with Black House. They are set in the outer Hebrides islands off the northwest coast of Scotland. I first heard them recommended on a WSIRN episode actually ! I actually would try to find all the places on the Isle of Lewis on my phone map while I was reading Black House and switch to the satellite photos so I could see what the locations looked like ! Content warnings do apply .

    • Wendy Curtis says:

      I just finished The Lewis Trilogy and gave them all 5 stars! Peter May’s writing and character building are perfection. I wish there were more in this series!!

  14. Marci says:

    This is a very inclusive list, and you added Elly Griffiths’ Ruth Galloway series, which I think I love more than the Penny series! I’ve added a bunch to my already enormous TBR list. Another series author to add would be Ann Cleaves’ Shetland series. She has written another series, but I haven’t read that one.

  15. Nicola Jesse says:

    Great list I have read them all. I would add Martha Grimes to the list – all her mysteries have Pub Titles!! Dick Francis is another good detective read-these at the Horse Races!
    Martin Walkers-Inspector Bruno good all in France. Peter Lovesey is excellent his detective is in Bath. All of these are older books but worth a look!

  16. Debbie says:

    Chief bruno series by Martin walker is another good series where there is mystery and characters that you invest in over the course of the series.

  17. Laura says:

    Haha. Perfect timing. After years of encouragement, I am bingeing Louise Penny this month. I’m only on #6, but I’m sure I’ll be waiting anxiously by November.

  18. Beth says:

    I read the Cork O’Connor series on your suggestion and I LOVE them. They’re basically a Minnesota version of Longmire. 😉 I live in Wisconsin and fantasize about a lake house in the Northwoods so they’re extremely appealing.

    I’d add Ann Cleeves Shetland Mysteries to this list. She’s also started a new series with a detective named Matthew Venn. The Vera Stanhope books don’t do it for me but I loved the Shetland books.

    Linda Castillo’s Kate Burkholder books are good but a bit gory. As is the Stillhouse Lake series by Rachel Caine. Strong female leads but also pretty dark.

  19. Joan says:

    One mystery series that I love is the Coffee House Mysteries by Cleo Coyle. A series based around a fictitious coffee house in Greenwich Village, NYC. I just finished “Honey Roasted” which is #19 in this wonderful series!

  20. Kim says:

    I just started this series (never heard of it before I started listening to your podcast!), about to start book 4. I absolutely loved the first 3, so can’t wait to continue. I’ve already recommended to a few people… Bookmarking this list, all very good suggestions I look forward to exploring.

  21. Andrea Greene says:

    This is a great list! Two more: Rhys Bowen’s Molly Murphy series and Margaret Maron’s Judge Deborah Knott series.

  22. Sarah Ry says:

    This list couldn’t be more timely for me. 😆 I finished the first book in the Kincaid and James Mystery series yesterday and I’m glad I’ve found a great series to read when I’m not reading the Inspector Gamache series. I will have to check out some of these other series as well.

    • Brittany R says:

      I love the Deborah Crombie mystery series and sometimes I feel like I’m one of the few who has read them! So underrated and so good!

  23. Julie Dowdall says:

    Barbara Nadel: both the İkmen books set in Istanbul (and filming is going on for a series based on the books) and Her Hakim and Arnold series set in London

  24. Terry says:

    I have to add Sara Paretsky’s VI Warshawski series. VI is one of the great female detectives. The books are smart, gritty, and oh so readable. You’ll also learn a fair amount about Chicago along the way.

    I love mysteries and my all time favorite is P.D. James. Her mysteries are dense, intelligent, character-driven, and meaningful. Her use of the English language transcends every other author I’ve read in my 69 years. Many years ago, I stood in line to get her to sign a book. By the time I got to the front of the very long line, I was tongue tied with nervousness in front of my favorite author and couldn’t utter a word. My husband read her the words that I’d written to say to her myself. She wrote me a long, beautiful note when she signed my book and then came around the desk and hugged me. Gosh, it was a wonderful moment!

  25. Emily Brown says:

    I love the Longmire series by Craig Johnson for a cool, rural western setting with a small town sheriff. I’d definitely recommend on audio, the narration by George Guidall is phenomenal. Funny banter and a low key, slow burn romance add to the interesting mysteries. About 20 books so far, starts with The Cold Dish.

  26. Corinne says:

    There’s probably something wrong with me because a list of murder mysteries like this gives me such a warm, cozy feeling!! This is a fantastic list and I see many old friends here and others I’d love to read. My absolute favourite recently has been the DC Smith series by Peter Grainger; they have compelling characters, very British humour, and a strong sense of place. I don’t reread very often but have read all nine in the series *three* times in two years. The audiobooks are brilliant and the author has two other series to enjoy.

    • Patricia says:

      My husband and I both enjoyed the DC Smith series (and spin offs) by Peter Grainger. I’ll have to check out the audio books.

  27. Laura B says:

    Such a great list! I picked up Maisie Dobbs years ago on your recommendation and blew through the series in a few weeks. The audio is excellent. And now I’m repeating the pattern with the Cork O’Connor series. They’re so complusively readable!

  28. Donna says:

    Though much lighter than the Louise Penny series, I enjoy Ellery Adams’s series: Books by the Bay, Writer’s Retreat, and Secret, book, and Scone Society. they’re all set in the south, and have quirky female characters. I often alternate them with Penny’s series just to lighten things up for a bit.

  29. Cheryl says:

    I started reading Louise Penny this spring after several friends recommended her books, along with author Charles Finch. It is hard to put them down, and I am on book 8. I would add Charles Finch’s Charles Lenox mysteries to this list. They are set in Victorian England and should be read in order.

  30. Rhonda Lippert says:

    I am in the “just started Louise Penny camp” and have lots of catching up to do! However the timing of this post is so perfect as I have recently gotten into the mystery thriller genre….aside from Louise Penny’s first book Still Life, I finished Lisa Jewell’s The Night She Disappeared over this last weekend. It was very unputdownable!! Now I’m hooked!! Thanks for this list and all the great suggestions—can’t wait to dig in!!

  31. Sue says:

    I recommend the Dark Iceland Series by Ragnar Jónasson, translated into English by Quentin Bates. The mysteries are intricate enough that you won’t have them figured out too soon and the writing is so atmospheric you feel like you’re experiencing the long Iceland winter along with the characters. The detective, Ari Thór Arason, is complex and brilliant. I recommend reading these in order so you can track his personal story along with the murders he solves.

  32. Amy says:

    Robert Galbraith (aka JK Rowling)’s Cormoran Strike series is phenomenal and needs to be read in order. Gripping mysteries, but the flawed characters and ever-so-slowly unfolding backstories make them what they are…perfection!!

    • Heidi says:

      I was getting ready to include this series of I didn’t find it in the comments! The mystery piece is fine, but I love love love the relationships! I already have the next book on hold at my library.

    • Jo says:

      BIG AGREE here; I love this series and cannot wait for the end of this month for the latest release! Amazing writing about fascinating events and situations – some devastating and horrific, some hilarious – full of real and relatable people with interesting, heartbreaking, funny life stories … You want to know how they solve the crimes and mysteries, but you also really want to know what’s happening in the lives of the main characters Robin and Strike, as well as of those around them. Dave Polworth, Uncle Ted, Max …

  33. Wendy says:

    Great list! William Kent Kruger and Louise Penny are both on my backlist heading to my completist list soon. I was quite surprised that Robert Dugoni didn’t make the list with his Tracy Crosswhite series or his newest series, Charles Jenkins, both series offer great reads.

  34. Susan says:

    Wow! What a great blog! I am an avid mystery reader. Every one of these series are ones I have already started or have been on my radar as ones I think I would like. First time that has happened.

    I will add Kate Shackleton mysteries by Frances Brody to the mix. Smart and savvy woman in 1920’s England, her husband MIA from the war. A private investigator, interesting cases, and I like her independence and confidence.

  35. Lynn says:

    I am eagerly awaiting the next book in the Victoria Thompson Gaslight Mystery series, Maisie Dobbs series, and the next Deborah Crombie. I will definitely check out some of the other suggestions. Nothing makes me happier than finding another great mystery series to inhale, the more books already written the better!

  36. Kate says:

    I would second the person who recommended the Walt Longmire series by Craig Johnson. It may not seem like it has much in common with the Gamache series but it really does. The location (middle of nowhere Wyoming) is a character in the series, just as with Three Pines, and there is a quiet, patient, warm demeanor to Sheriff Longmire that is similar to Gamache. Longmire also has a “side-kick” as Gamache has with Jean Guy, the wise Henry Standing Bear. It may seem like a long shot to go from rural Canada to the wilds of Wyoming, but there are many similarities, and the mystery is often second to the deeper meaning within the story. The narration by George Guidall is mesmerizing…much like the original and beloved narrator of the Gamache books, Ralph Cosham. In my opinion, the Longmire books are the closest match for people who love the Gamache series.

    **Note: If you have watched the Longmire TV series, consider that separate from the books. I haven’t watched it because from the trailers, it is completely different from the books, and I just handle the books being so different from what’s on the screen. So if you liked the TV series, read the books knowing it will be different. If you didn’t like the show, definitely read the books.

  37. Harriet Johnston says:

    In place of Charles Todd’s series on Bess Crawford I would recommend their Inspector Rutledge series. I found that series more enjoyable as the main character seems to have more depth. The trauma he experienced during World War 1 forms a key element of this series.

  38. Emily says:

    What a great list! I would add the Frida Klein series by Nicci French. There are 8 books and they all have a day of the week in the title. First book is Blue Monday.

  39. Deb says:

    When last you published this list I discovered Ausma Zehenat Khan’s Rachel Getty and Esa Khattak books. They are superbly written by an incredibly knowledgeable author who brings enormous compassion and insight to historical geographic conflicts (and in the case of the first book the Bosnian genocide) and to life as a Muslim. They are not fluffy, light, mysteries, they deal with serious issues and are wonderfully entertaining while also being quite educational. Ausma is a charming and beautiful woman whom I reached out to on Instagram after reading her books. Thank you for this recommendation.

  40. If someone had told me I would be a devoted reader of a series about a Wyoming game warden, I would’ve laughed in their face. Yet I find the Joe Pickett series by CJ Box to be outstanding and entertaining and everything you look for in an inspiring book. I remain a Louise Penny super fan, but I’m ALSO a CJ Box super fan. I highly recommend these books.

  41. Penelope Dishaw says:

    What an awesome list! I’ve added 10 new series to my gigantic TBR list. I would contribute Lindsey Davis’ “Marcus Didius Falco” mysteries. I just love spending time in ancient Rome with him!

  42. Cari says:

    Great list. I would add another Canadian series- The Lane Winslow series by Iona Whishaw. The first book is called A Killer in King’s Cove. Definitely deserves more attention! I also love Sulari Gentill’s Rowland Sinclair series.

  43. JoanK says:

    The Hugo series by Walker is a joy to read. I don’t know if he is still adding to the series, but I couldn’t recommend it more highly.

  44. Andi Guinn says:

    I’ve been working my way through the Louise Penny series as well! I’m up to book 14! I am always working through a couple of book series. Another mystery series that I really enjoy is Rhys Bowen’s Her Royal Spyness. A bit of a lighter mystery, but the character development has been extraordinary. I do love all things royal too! I only have a few more of those to go and I’m thinking I’ll start the Molly Murphy series next!

  45. CaroL says:

    This list certainly encompasses some of the best. I am a huge Julia Spencer Fleming fan. I’ve read them all and crave more. The 2 main characters, Rev. Clare Fergusson & Russ Van Alstyne, intrigued me from the start. Both ex-Army, they are are drawn to each other as much as I am drawn to them. I so hope there will be another book in this series.

    I’ve really enjoyed Amy Stewart’s Kopp Sisters beginning with Girl Waits With Gun. Based on a legit female deputy sheriff in the early 1900’s, the three Kopp sisters are all strong women in their own right. Constance, the sheriff, debuts as the featured character, but her sister, Norma and Fleurette, with their own quirky personalities soon worm their way in as key players. Stewart’s blending of historical fiction with this true-life story of the country’s first female deputy sheriff debuted a new heroine.

  46. Lynda Holloway says:

    I’ve read all the Daniel Silva books & highly recommend them. He is one of my favorite authors. Have also read all of the Julia Spencer Flemming books & worth the read. Would like to add C.S. Harris to the list. Her Sebastian St Cyr series of mysteries is very good.

  47. Leslie Mahler says:

    This is a great list. There are two more series that I would recommend:
    Deanna Raybourn – A Curious Beginning – Veronica Speedwell series
    Andrea Penrose – Murder on Black Swan Lane – Wrexford & Sloane series that was originally recommended to me in a MMD book swap.

  48. Mary says:

    I love your list! I am a fan of many of the authors and you have big Ben me a few new ones to explore.
    I would add Martin Walker to the list. His inspector Bruno series is great fun set in France with good mysteries,,wine and food!

  49. I’d echo others who have mentioned Lane Winslow, V.I. Warshawski and Julia Spencer-Fleming – all series I love. I’m also recently enjoying the Crown Colony mysteries by Ovidia Yu, set in 1930s/1940s Singapore.

    • Shelley says:

      The Harriett Gordon mysteries by A.M. Stuart are also set in Singapore around the 1920’s. There are only three in the series so far but I’ve enjoyed them all. Very atmospheric.

  50. Roger George says:

    Definitely one of the series by Peter Grainger. The King’s Lake series starts out by featuring Detective Smith, but over the course of the series the spotlight turns to other members of the squad. There is a warmth about Grainger’s treatment of his characters–even the villains–that is quite reminiscent of Louise Penny. His second series, Willows and Lane, is much shorter but also very good.

  51. Lynne says:

    Louise Penny’s first novel, Still Life was published in 2005, not 1990.
    I’ve also just discovered a wonderful series by M.L.Longworth, whose mysteries take place in Aix-Provence. Highly recommend!

  52. Sharon says:

    I loved Iron Lake but the second book didn’t leave me wanting to read more. Maybe I’ll give it another try. However, I recently read the prequel to the series – Lightning Strike – and it was great!

  53. Jane Carle says:

    This is a great list — I’ve read a few, but picked up some new-to-me authors. I would add: Dervla McTiernan’s Cormac Reilly series and Ann Cleeves’ Shetland series with Jamie Perez. I also like Tony Hillerman’s Joe Leaphorn & Jim Chee books. His daughter Anne continues writing the series, adding Detective Bernie Manualito. Other good guys are: C. J. Box’s Joe Pickett series and Craig Johnson’s Longmire Depending on how you feel about J.K. Rowling, you could try the Cormoran Strike series (Robert Galbraith).

    Love the podcast…thank you!

  54. Lea says:

    Great options! Thanks!
    I’ve started reading a light mystery series set around the southern coast of England in the fictional village of Fethering. The author is Simon Brett. I believe there are 21 in the Fethering series. I’m enjoying them.

  55. Lorraine Newton says:

    This is a great list of some of my favourite authors and series. I also see many others I enjoy in the comments. One I didn’t notice is the Beatrice Stubbs series by JJ Marsh – great cast of characters and locations around England and Europe.

    I’ve also found a few new ones to check out too. Many thanks!

  56. Peggy Hammond says:

    All of the above! Would also include the J.R. Ellis “Yorkshire” series. And the Steve Burrows “birder” series.

  57. Connie Pursell says:

    I would add the Inspector Alan Banks series by Peter Robinson set in Yorkshire Dales in England. Also, the Maria Kallio series, Nordic thrillers, by Leena Lehtolainen set in Helsinki, Finland.

  58. Charmaine Muir says:

    Loved so many of these series. I would add Anna Lee Huber’s Verity Kent series and Peter Tremayne’s Sister Fidelma series.

  59. Marilyn says:

    I want to check out The Maisie Dobbs series. The Molly Murphy series Rhys Bowen,The Gooseberry Bay cottage mysteies Kathy Daley,and The Irish Mysteries by Colleen Cobble are ones I enjoy.

  60. Kathy says:

    I love this list!! I’ve read some of these series, but not all of them. I’d add M.L. Longworth’s “Murder in Provence” series to this list.

  61. Jody Czwartacky says:

    I love to go lighter on the intensity during the summer months. Donna Andrews’ lighthearted but usually Intricate bird-titled series starts with Murder With Peacocks. It’s a fun series; recommend reading in order.

  62. J says:

    I recently discovered Victoria Gilbert’s Blue Ridge Library mystery series. I have been borrowing them on audio from my local library—two cheers for the Libby app! I am currently listening to book 5 and I think there are 7 in the series so far. I have been recommending them all summer long to other friends who love a cozy mystery series.

  63. Marion says:

    My favorite mystery series is Mrs.Jeffers by Emily Brightwell. Other likes are Wisteria Mysteries Patricia Greenwood,The Tea Room Mysteries,The Amish Inn Mysteries. I want to start reading The Jane Austen and Charlotte Bronte mysteries. Also The Victorian Mysteries by Charlotte Hubbard should be good.

  64. Pe Goodman says:

    Victoria Thomson, Sara Brandt series in 1900 NYC
    Barbara Hambly, Benjamin January series in 1830s New Orleans
    Cara Black, Aimee Leduc series in Paris
    Julie Smith, Skip Langdon series in contemporary New Orleans

  65. Susan says:

    I will be keeping this list. I am currently reading Daniel Silva’s newest “Portrait of an Unknown Woman” . Thank you

  66. Megan says:

    Such an amazing list! I would also like to list the Maggie Hope series by Susan Elia MacNeal and the Hannah Swensen Mysteries by Joanne Fluke.

  67. Lauren says:

    I have a confession to make: I haven’t enjoyed the last few Louise Penny novels. Like Elizabeth George’s series, I enjoyed the first handful a great deal but lost interest as the books became more preachy and the F bombs more prevalent. She lost me completely with the last one. So if you’re a huge Penny fan and think her latest books are her best, you may want to take my recommendations below with a grain of salt.

    First, I heartily second the witty, smart Flavia de Luce mysteries. And P. D. James is pure class.

    If you like a ghost or two in your mysteries, I recommend the early Simone St. James novels (the historical ones, not the last couple which are much grittier). Warning: her ghosts aren’t the cute & cozy kind.

    Although she’s not exactly a pure mystery writer, I’ve loved everything by Canadian author Susanna Kearsley. Her novels resist categorization, but they include a bit of mystery, adventure, history, and well-done, non-cheesy romance. Think “Rebecca”-style mystery rather than murders. She’s like a modern-day Mary Stewart or Daphne de Maurier.

    Back to mysteries, or maybe thrillers: Rebecca Cantrell has created a compelling sleuth who lives in the bowels of NY city’s subway with his service dog. Wealthy, brilliant, and agoraphobic, with family connections to the inventor Nikola Tesla, Joe and his small circle of friends solve mysteries and stop crime. Another series that’s smart and tough to categorize.

    Finally, I’m still a huge fan of the Golden Age mystery writers: Agatha Christie, Dorothy Sayers, Margery Allingham, Michael Innes, Georgette Heyer, Ngaio Marsh, etc.

    • Chrissa says:

      YES to your first 3 recommendations!! We seem to have similar taste. I will definitely check out Rebecca Cantrell, they sound right up my alley – Thank you!

    • CarolK says:

      The use of the F word repeatedly and out of context can bomb a series for me also. Gratuitous sex can also cause me to stop reading any book, series or not.

  68. Wendy says:

    I’m definitely the reader for this post; I’ve read six of these series! I strongly recommend Reginald Hill’s Dalziel and Pascoe series. The author died not too long ago, and the first few books, written in the early 1970s, haven’t aged well. But they get better and better, and books 11-24, written from the 1990s on, are some of the best character driven mysteries I’ve ever read.

  69. Lynda says:

    The Rock tonight series by Kelley Armstrong. The first book is called City of the Lost. It takes place in a hidden town in Yukon, Canada where people go when they need to disappear. Homicide detective Casey Duncan goes up there as a resident and ends up having to solve murders and mysteries in the town and the woods beyond.

  70. lim says:

    I too love Penny’s books.

    I would suggest the following series:Bruno chief of police by Martin Wallker
    and Harry Bosch by
    Michael Connolly

  71. Laura says:

    Huge fan of Deborah Crombie’s books. Another good series for Penny fans is the M.L. Longworth ‘s Verlaque and Bonnet series, as well as Gail Bowen’s Joanne Kilbourne series.

  72. Heidi G Baird says:

    I am so grateful for this list for new series to read. I have read or am reading some but was looking for more truly good books. Having been stuck at home for a long time because of Covid and health issues, I rejoice in the escape a good book provides.

  73. Beth Roireau says:

    I discovered Sun, Sand, Murder (A Teddy Creque Mystery #1) by John Keyse-Walker this summer. A colorful group of characters and a unique island setting but it still reminded me of Gamache.

  74. Debra Seegers says:

    Looking forward to Massey, Khan, and Locke. Enjoyed all of the others, and would add Dana Stabenow’s Kate Shugak Alaska series and Paul Doiron’s Maine Mike Bowditch series to those listed. May they all live forever!

    • Betsy Warner says:

      I tried the Kate Shugak series and it was too dense on place description and not enough on the characters. Love Louise Penney, William Kent Kruegar and Jacqueline Winspear.

  75. Aita says:

    I can definitely recommend the Rivers of London series from Ben Aaronovitch.
    I felt very entertained while reading through his books, a touch of mystery, a hint of magic and spicy killings. Nice mixture 😉

  76. Heidi says:

    Two Junes ago, my Roman history-loving husband recommended the Medicus series by Ruth Downie. I blew through those books over the next few months and loved them! The main character is a Roman army doctor named Gaius Petreius Ruso, who is stationed in Brittainia. Read them in order, as his relationship with Tilla develops over the course of the several novels in this series. Also, the books sometimes depart from Brittainia to places like Gaul and Rome.

    Thank you very much for this list! I have enjoyed the mysteries written by Louise Penny, Robert Galbraith, Deborah Crombie, and Jane Harper. Now I’m starting to read Arthur Conan Doyle!

  77. Kim says:

    I hate to admit it to you Anne, but didn’t read more of the Louise Penny books when I couldn’t get into the first one. I keep saying I’ll pick it up again since you said it gets so much better after the first three. I came here to recommend two series that I think compliment the Maisie Dobbs series that you listed as a read alike.
    First is the Maggie Hope series by Susan Alia MacNeal. Maggie is an American in England in 1940 and becomes a typist in the War Rooms. Her skills go well beyond that though, but when she tries to help with more serious matters of the war like decoding, she is dismissed by almost everyone. This first book was especially a hit for me because it gave so much detail about the War Rooms only a few short months before I went to London and visited the War Rooms in person. I’ve really enjoyed the rest of the series as well. Definitely a lighter series than it sounds like some on this list are.
    Second is the Bess Crawford Series by Charles Todd. Set during WW1, Bess is a nurse who in the first book is given a unusual message from a dying serviceman and tries to carry out his request and ends up getting involved in a mystery along the way. I’m a completist on this series as well.

  78. Megan says:

    I recently came across the Jonah Sheen series by Gytha Lodge. I raced through the first 3 and am waiting for the 4th to come in at the library. I didn’t see this series listed above but highly recommend.

  79. Glen DAy says:

    JUst as i decide reread my books, and not get more library books….I read the Penny books, after resisting for a long time on the grounds that “no body writes that well”, despite all the raving reviews. Then, finally, I read one. I now have them all, in hardcover! Of the books listed here, I also have the Maisie Dobbs books (not as good end penny, but pretty good. Penny books are hard to match!), I’ve read several of the others (Krueger’s books, I have read, and plan on buying, if I can find them; they are also excellent!), and many of them I have read in the past, and somehow lost track of them. So now i have to track them down (they are older titles) and read them. One series you did not at was the Posadas county books by Steven Havill, also excellent!

  80. Susan L Miller says:

    I would add:
    Laurie R. King’s Mary Russell/Sherlock Holmes series, starting with “The Beekeepers Apprentice”
    Rhys Bowen’s Her Royal Spyness series “A Royal Pain”
    Marcia Muller’s Sharon McCone series “Edwin of the Iron Shoes”
    Bill Pronzini’s Nameless Detective noir series (he is also Muller’s husband!)

  81. Rebecca says:

    Laura Lippmann’s Tess Monaghan series is perfect for mystery lovers! Can’t recommend her writing enough. Extra special for me as a former Baltimore resident, the books are full of local references and places. They’re just scary enough without being too scary to read before bed.

  82. Janet says:

    I’m surprised that Cara Black and her detective Aimee Leduc isn’t on the list. A great series – good plots and armchair travel to Paris all in one.

  83. Kathryn says:

    The Auntie Poldi series by Mario Giordano starting with Auntie Poldi and the Sicilian Lions is a great series. Also vouching for Anthony Horowitz’ series: Hawthorne and Horowitz (yes it’s in first person and yes the author is one of the main characters. Such a different take) and also Susan Ryeland (Magpie Murders).

  84. Kathie Menker says:

    Re: 7 authors on this list:
    I read the first few Tana French 2 years ago, but stopped because they seemed to get darker and more disturbing.
    I read Ruth Rendell years and years ago. I may try her again.
    Love Deborah Crombie. Have read all her books.
    I’m just starting “The Lantern Men” by Elly Griffiths. It’s the second last in the current series. I have reserved the newest one at the library.
    I’ve read most of Elizabeth George’s books. Got away from them due to their increasing longer length. I kept discovering new authors I wanted to try.
    I had checked out Donna Leon’s first book in the series, but never got around to it before I had to take it back to the library. I may check it out again.
    I have the first 3 William Kent Krueger books and will start them after I finish Elly Griffiths.
    So many books! So little time!

  85. Kim M Stachowiak says:

    I will have to check them out save for The Thursday Murder Club. I already read that one – the characters are adorable, and the plot was excellent. It’s torture waiting for new Louise Penny novels to take me back to Three Pines.

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