It’s the Time of the Season for … Solving Mysteries
by Chelsea Bennett, Reference Department
Treetops, aflame. The air, crisp. Bonfires, hot cider, plaid shirts as far as the eye can see: classic signs of winter. Here’s one more timeless association for you: whodunits. Whether you’re into the classics, the creepies, or the cozies, winter is the perfect time of year to shroud yourself in Mystery.
Publishing professional Valerie Peterson divides the Mystery genre into four main types, and many subgenres. She starts with the types: Hard-Boiled (moody detectives and femmes fatales), Soft-Boiled (similar, but less explicitly violent or sexy), Cozy (Miss Marple and her descendants), and Procedural (thorough analysis of cops and crimes). Within those types, you may find any combination of hijinks and capers, amateur sleuths, local flavor, daunting puzzles, gritty detectives, historical figures, cats, romance, and more. 
Unless you simply “hate being titillated,” there’s bound to be a Mystery out there for you. Below, I’ve listed some of the genre’s best-loved authors, both classic and modern. Since mystery writers love to stick with their characters, I’ll sometimes include a character or series name rather than a book title.
(Quick note: some Mysteries have more intense content than others, especially if they cross into Thriller territory. If you’re concerned about potential triggers, check out a site like www.doesthedogdie.com, which helps you steer clear of certain content. You can also check out our blog post about cozy mysteries!)
Jennifer Finney Boylan – Long Black Veil
K. Chesterton – Catholic priest and amateur detective Father Brown stars in 53 of Chesterton’s short stories.* Netflix has the BBC’s adaptation.
Agatha Christie – Christie’s 75 novels run the gamut from fun and cozy to truly chilling. Miss Marple and Hercule Poirot, her two most famous characters, each appear in dozens of works. And Then There Were None is a must-read, but Christie named Ordeal by Innocence and Crooked House as her favorites among her own books.*
Mary Higgins Clark –Where Are the Children?; A Stranger Is Watching; Loves Music, Loves to Dance
Harlan Coben – Tell No One; The Woods; Fool Me Once; the overlapping Myron Bolitar and Mickey Bolitar series (a sports agent and his nephew)
Wilkie Collins –The Law and the Lady; The Moonstone; The Woman in White
Michael Connelly – Harry Bosch series. This bestselling police procedural series forms the basis for Amazon’s TV series, Bosch.
Deborah Crombie – Duncan Kincaid & Gemma James series (Scotland Yard)
Colin Dexter –Inspector Morse series (a senior criminal investigator who loves Wagner, cryptic crossword puzzles, and cask ale)
Sir Arthur Conan Doyle – The character of Sherlock Holmes needs no introduction. Doyle’s non-Sherlockian mysteries include The Mystery of Cloomber, and short stories such as “J. Habakuk Jephson’s Statement.” *
Barry Eisler – Eisler is a former covert CIA operative, a trained lawyer, and a black belt martial artist. His three series each feature a different hero: assassin John Rain, black ops soldier Ben Treven, and SVU detective Livia Lone.
James Ellroy – The L.A. Quartet (The Black Dahlia; The Big Nowhere; L.A. Confidential; White Jazz)
Dashiell Hammett – Because of The Maltese Falcon, The Thin Man, and a host of series and short stories, The New York Times eulogized Hammett as “the dean of the… ‘hard-boiled’ school of detective fiction.”*
Kellye Garrett – Hollywood Homicide
Tess Gerritsen – The Bone Garden
Lamar Giles – Overturned (YA)
Alexia Gordon – The Gethsemane Brown Mysteries (an African-American classical musician)
Sue Grafton – Famous for her Alphabet Mystery series (A is for Alibi, etc.), Grafton passed away after completing Y is for Yesterday. “[As] far as we in the family are concerned, the alphabet now ends at Y,” wrote Grafton’s daughter. 
Carl Hiaasen – “America’s finest satirical novelist” is a “laugh-out-loud funny and thoroughly entertaining” “master of the revenge fantasy.”  Try Tourist Season, Strip Tease, Skin Tight, or Double Whammy for a taste of his madcap, Florida-based mysteries.
Patricia Highsmith – Strangers on a Train; Deep Water; The Glass Cell; The Talented Mr. Ripley
Tony Hillerman – Leaphorn & Chee series (Navajo Tribal Police)
Joe Ide – IQ series (an unconventional, unofficial detective)
P. D. James – Death Comes to Pemberly; Adam Dalgliesh series (Scotland Yard)
Iris Johansen – Eve Duncan series (a forensic sculptor)
Ausma Zehanat Khan – The Unquiet Dead
Laurie R. King – Mary Russell series (a teenage girl who becomes Sherlock Holmes’ apprentice)
Attica Locke – Jay Porter series (a struggling Texas lawyer)
Sujata Massey –Perveen Mistry series (historical fiction; India’s first female lawyer)
John Mortimer – Horace Rumpole is “an ageing London barrister who defends any and all clients.” 
Abir Mukherjee – Sam Wyndham (Scotland Yard, historical fiction)
Jo Nesbø – Brilliant and troubled, Harry Hole (pronounced Hoo-leh) comes from Oslo, Norway, but his work takes him around the world. The series has been translated into English out of order; Hole first appears in The Bat.*
Leonardo Padura – The Mario Conde quartet is on Netflix as the Four Seasons in Havana miniseries.*
Sara Paretsky – Fierce, independent, and sharp, private detective V. I. Warshawski (Victoria) specializes in white-collar crime.
Louise Penny – Chief Inspector Gamache (character-driven, set in provincial Quebec)*
Dr. Kwei Quartey – Darko Dawson (a detective in Ghana)
Marcie Rendon – Murder on the Red River
Tess Sharpe – Far from You (YA)
George Simenon – Simenon’s legendary detective Jules Maigret has been portrayed by a wide range of actors, from Shakespearean stars (Charles Laughton) to slapstick comics (Rowan Atkinson). But why not picture him for yourself? He appears in 76 novels and 28 short stories.
Dwayne Alexander Smith – Forty Acres; The Unkind Hours
Sherry Thomas – Lady Sherlock series
Stephanie Tromley – Trouble Is a Friend of Mine (YA)
Nicola Upson – Josephine Tey (British theatre in the 1930s)
Randy Wayne White – Doc Ford series (a marine biologist / ex-CIA)
* indicates quotations and stats were taken from Wikipedia pages about the authors and/or their works
Posted on December 14, 2018, in Book Reviews and tagged Agatha Christie, book list, Chelsea Bennett, cozy mysteries, Hard-boiled mysteries, mysteries, procedural mysteries, soft-boiled mysteries. Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.