The mystery genre lends itself well to book series. The development of the main and supporting characters, the progression of crime solving and the ability to link prior mysteries with current issues make series writing in the mystery genre a perfect fit. There is a plethora of fabulous series out there but these 11 are some of the best mystery series.
The Joe Pickett series by C.J. Box
Joe Pickett is a game warden in Wyoming. C.J. Box is 19 books into this series, and I have read each one as it was published. Unlike most series in which some books are better than others, every single book starring Joe Pickett is outstanding; Joe Pickett may well be the perfect protagonist. In each installment, Box expertly balances Joe’s personal life with two mysteries – one related to his role as a game warden and one that is a ripped-from-the-headlines issue.
The Harper McClain series by Christi Daugherty
Harper McClain is haunted by her mother’s unsolved murder that occurred when Harper was just 12. Obsessed with solving this crime, Harper works as a crime reporter for the local Savannah, Georgia newspaper in hopes that she will eventually encounter clues that will lead her to her mother’s killer. Daugherty’s own experience as a Savannah newspaper reporter adds depth and realism to Harper’s character and career, and her descriptions of Savannah will transport the reader to the city’s cobblestone streets and historic buildings. I recommend this series to anyone and everyone and cannot wait for the third book to come out early next year.
The Nils Shapiro series by Matt Goldman
Set in Minneapolis, this series stars Nils Shapiro, a no-nonsense and sarcastic private investigator who frequently runs afoul of local police and the FBI. Laced with humor and intelligently written, the series stars Nils and his business partner, Anders Ellegaard, who work to solve the unique crimes for which they are hired. One of my favorite aspects of the series is that Goldman infuses these mysteries with the Scandinavian culture and cuisine that permeate that region of the country, making the stories even more interesting as a result.
The Baby Ganesh Agency series by Vaseem Khan
Vaseem Khan’s delightful and unique series is set in Mumbai, and Khan immerses the reader in modern Mumbai culture and attitudes while creating clever and intriguing mysteries. In the first book, Inspector Ashwin Chopra gains an unexpected companion on the day he retires from the Mumbai police force, a baby elephant he names Ganesha. Together, Chopra and Ganesha solve various quirky and clever mysteries while highlighting modern Indian culture. Chopra is a delightful protagonist, and I am always eager to learn about his and Ganesha’s latest adventures.
The Highway 59 series by Attica Locke
This series takes place just down the highway from my hometown of Houston in a rural East Texas area that seems worlds away. Locke’s main character is a black Texas Ranger who faces racial and familial challenges as he investigates crimes in an area where racial divides are strong and hatred and resentment are simmering at the surface. Locke’s ability to portray her characters as complex humans, whose views and beliefs are often the result of their upbringing or experiences, challenges the reader to reflect on his or her own belief system and ideas. She addresses uncomfortable topics in a thought-provoking manner while creating a fast-paced and intriguing tale. These books stay with me long after I finish them.
The Gilded Newport Mysteries by Alyssa Maxwell
The various Newport “cottages” built in the late 1890s take center stage in Alyssa Maxwell’s delightful series starring Emma Cross, second cousin to millionaire Cornelius Vanderbilt. Maxwell’s meticulous research shines through in each installment as she vividly details each house and its inhabitants while centering a mystery around the house at issue. One of my favorites aspects of these books is that Maxwell includes an Afterword in each one that provides additional information about that particular cottage including its relevance in the Newport community, its occupants and the fate of the cottage today. This series is a must-read for fans of the Gilded Age and its prominent individuals.
The Veronica Speedwell series by Deanna Raybourn
The witty banter between lepidopterist Veronica Speedwell and her sidekick Stoker is the highlight of this outstanding series set in 1880s London. Raybourn’s main characters are cleverly created and highly entertaining, and combined with unusual mysteries, the series is a true standout. Intelligent, highly adventurous and independent, Speedwell challenges the conventions of the Victorian era and her curiosity and charm make her a unique and highly likable heroine.
The High Society Lady Detective series by Sara Rosett
Rosett’s series takes place in 1920s high society England. Destitute aristocrat Olive Belgrave stumbles into crime-solving when a murder occurs at a house party she is attending. Word of her success travels, and Olive finds herself drawn into numerous mysteries and high jinks. I love this era, and Sara Rosett expertly details the time and place – fashions, word usage and the manors themselves – creating an authentic and realistic series.
The Pete Fernandez series by Alex Segura
A former newspaper reporter and an alcoholic, Pete Fernandez works as a private investigator in Miami while trying to hold himself together attending AA meetings. Fernandez’s past frequently rears its ugly head dragging him into numerous murder investigations and the resolution of old vendettas. Incredibly fast-paced and highly entertaining, Segura’s mysteries are a ton of fun to read and will keep readers guessing until the very end.
The Bruno, Chief of Police series by Martin Walker
Bruno is the chief of police in a small fictional town in the Perigord region of France. Walker’s clever and unique murder mysteries paired with a focus on the food, people and culture of the region make this series one of the best. My favorite aspect of this series is the progression of not only Bruno’s personal life and career, but also the development of numerous other supporting characters’ lives. Readers will feel like they have visited this beautiful region of France and its charming residents without ever leaving their homes.
The Maisie Dobbs series by Jacqueline Winspear
After serving as a nurse in World War I, Maisie Dobbs decides to become a private investigator in London. Patient and intelligent, Maisie uses her skills and intuition to solve the crimes and mysteries that come her way. Well-researched and beautifully written, the Maisie Dobbs series is a joy from start to finish and will appeal to anyone who likes brilliant writing and a thoughtful, quick-witted protagonist.
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