Huge, General List of Many of My Favorite Mystery Authors (being added to nearly daily)

First off, PLEASE, PLEASE, PLEASE leave suggestions for new authors and new reads. They don’t have to be mysteries, either.  Finding a new voice I love is way better than finding a new affordable great restaurant.  So don’t be stingy.  Share your reads.  It’s the right thing to do.

As all book choices are, mine are terribly subjective.  And this is incomplete.  I cobbled together some partial lists and emails.  But here’s some recommendations.  To be on this list at all, you are a seriously great writer.  I read pretty much everything these authors put out, when I can get my hands on them.  I know I’ve left some off and I’ll be adding them.  The pugs jumble my brain and make me forget names.

Martha Grimes – Inspector Jury *****

P.D. James – Inspector Dalgliesh *****

M.C. Beaton – Hamish MacBeth ****

Louise Penny – Armand Gamache – I’m in love with this detective; I adore him****

Charles Todd – Ian Rutledge ****

Elizabeth George –Lynley and Havers ****

Deborah Crombie – Kincaid and James ***

Ian Rankin – Inspector Rebus ***

Ann Perry – Thomas and Charlotte Pitt, William Monk *** HISTORICAL

Peter Robinson – Inspector Banks ***

Caroline Graham – Tom Barnaby ***                                                                                 Anything by Laura Lippman **** –  I read her stand-alones.                                                   Tana French – woman is a genius ****

Helen Grant – The Vanishing of Katharina Linden ***

Nancy Pickard **

Andrew Grant – Smart, sexy, fast and sometimes funny ***

Tarquin Hall**

Malla Nunn – A Beautiful Place to Die **** set in South Africa

Michael Robotham **

Michael Connelly – Hieronymus Bosch *****

Reginald Hill – Dalziel and Pascoe, Joe Sixsmith *****

Ruth Rendell – Inspector Wexford **** (her stand-alones are so dark they give me nightmares but Wexford I love)

Sharon McCrumb – the Ballad series *** (Okay, contemporary with historical – you have to read one to understand)

Lawrence Sanders – Archie McNally **

Elizabeth Peters – Amelia Peabody ***** Historical

Stephanie Barron – Jane Austin ** Historical

Peter Lovesey – Inspector Cribb  and Peter Diamond**

Susan Wittig Albert – her Beatrix Potter series **** HISTORICAL

Alexander McCall Smith — #1 Ladies Detective Agency *****

Tony Hillerman – Joe Leaphorn, Jim Chee *****

Ellis Peters – Brother Cadfael *** HISTORICAL

Rhys Bowen – Evan Evans series

Andrew M. Greeley – Blackie Ryan **

Rick Riordan – Tres Navarre **

Nancy Atherton – Aunt Dimity *

Laurie R. King – Mary Russell and

Arthur Conan Doyle — Sherlock Holmes **** HISTORICAL

Donna Leon – Inspector Guido Brunetti ****

John Dunning – Cliff Janeway ***

Lawrence Block – Bernie Rhodenbarr, burglar series ***

John le Carre – Smiley *****

Ann Granger – Meredith and Markby **

Lilian Jackson Braun – Qwill and cat *

Dorothy Gillman – Mrs. Pollifax **

Dixie Cash – Domestic Equalizers ** TX authors

Lisa Lutz – Spellman Files *** funny and fabulous

Simon Brett – Charles Paris **

Colin Dexter – Inspector Morse *****

Harry Kemelman – Rabbi Small **

S.J. Rozan – *** Lydia Chin series

Michael Pearce – Mamur Zapt and The Man In… *** (2 series)

Michael Bond – Monsieur Pamplemousse **** Laugh-out-loud funny  He writes the Paddington Bear children’s books, too

Leann Sweeney – Yellow Rose *** she’s a local author!

Kathy Reichs – forensic anthropologist ****

James Lee Burke – dark but brilliant ***

Karin Fossum – Norwegian ***

Meg Cabot – Heather Wells mysteries **

Harley Jane Kozak – Dating Dead Men **

Martin Cruz Smith – Inspector Arkady ****

G.K. Chesterton  –  Father Brown **

Ed McBain – don’t miss his Precinct series

Dorothy L. Sayers – Lord Peter Whimsey ***** can’t skip these and call yourself a mystery reader

Josephine Tey ***

John Burdett – Jitpleecheep **** WARNING – very dark.  I know things I wish I didn’t know after reading him.  But his books are so good and ultimately so moral

Minette Walters – stand-alones ***

Ngaio Marsh ***

Nevada Barr – Natl. Park series ***

H.R.F. Keating – Inspector Ghote *****

Jonathon Gash – Lovejoy series – funny, violent, vulgar and touching and you’ll learn a lot about antique fraud.  I’ll never spend extra for an antique again because it ISN’T an antique. ****

Val McDermid – scary woman but she’s a genius ****

John Mortimer – Rumpole of the Bailey series *** light, funny, clever

Julia Spencer-Fleming – Rev. Clare Ferguson ****

L.C. Tyler — Herring-seller Series **** this is new and British and hysterical and clever and sweet

Deborah Sharp – Mama gets… series **** funny, sweet, smart and likeable.  Also seriously southern

Donald Westlake — His Dortmunder series. **** Westlake is one of the masters.

EXTRA NOTES — I’ve read all of Jacqueline Winspear and I love her.  Very bleak, but humane and so beautifully written.  ADORED the Sweetness at the Bottom of the Pie (Alan Bradley) and also loved his second The Weed That Strings the Hangman’s Bag – can’t wait for his next – and the author is NOT YOUNG!  A great encouragement to me.

Mary Ann Shaffer and Annie Barrows’ The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society?  Oh my gosh, I loved that book.  Much humor, great heart, beautiful writing, wonderful story – set in the same time period as the Maisie Dobbs books (Jacqueline Winspear)

I recommend Elizabeth Peter’s Amelia Peabody series — funny, bawdy, instructional, tender, what more can you ask?  Peter is a doctorate-level Egyptologist and she would make a GREAT dinner party guest.  Alexander McCall Smith’s Number One Ladies Detective Agency series.  I love him, and I love all his characters and I want to go to Botswana just because of AMS.  Reginald Hill – anything.  Peter Robinson – wrote my favorite sentence in any mystery.  Sharyn McCrumb – the ballad series.  Charlaine Harris – she writes the Sookie Stakehouse vampire mysteries  – I do love her Harper Connelly series though they are a good deal darker.  You know Martha Grimes?  P.D. James?  Just discovered Odd Thomas — have never been able to read Koontz, he gives me nightmares, but devoured all of his Odd Thomas series in a week. This is all in a hurry off the top of my head.

Of the classics, must-reads are Agatha Christie,  Margery Allingham, Dorothy Sayers, Ngiao Marsh,  Josephine Tey.  {On the other hand, re oldies, I’m completely with Ogden Nash when he wrote “Philo Vance needs a kick in the pants”).

Here’s some great stand-alone mysteries or non-mysteries:

Sing Them Home – Stephanie Kallos *****

Water For Elephants – Sara Gruen ****

Special Topics in Calamity Physics – Marisha Pessl ****

Anything by Bill Bryson ***** he writes travel (In A Sunburned Country was first-rate and the sleeping in the car scene made me laugh until I cried) and science (A Short History of Nearly Everything) and more.  I wouldn’t want to be married to the guy but he’s a great writer.

What Was Lost – Catherine O’Flynn ***** Oh, what a gorgeous heart-felt redemptive Chinese-puzzle of a book

The Art of Racing in the Rain – Garth Stein ***

The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night – Mark Haddon ****


11 thoughts on “Bookshelf

  1. I do not have enough life span left to read all of these, but I am working on it. Thanks for the list. I am looking forward to some more of you writings, aside from what I have read up until now. What I have read thus far is certainly worth publication. Should be some winners for the book publishers.
    I am currently reading “The Twelfth Imam” by Joel Rosenberg. It is good for a reader that enjoys Middle East Political Aaffairs, coupled with mystery and humanism.
    Keep it coming, Stephenie.

  2. I copied your list and I’m going to look for some of the books when at the book store.
    Thanks so much for sharing your suggestions of good books!

  3. Perhaps the Butch Karp/Marlene Ciampi books by Robert K Tanenbaum with Michael Gruber, and subsequent work by Gruber on his own. Though a lot of the characters and situations are hair-raising, some BREATHE; in particular, there’s an interesting thread around Karp&Ciampi’s daughter, who sees visions of and talks with Teresa of Avila. – It seems that Gruber has ahold of something real about what it’s like to live in a spiritual universe, even though at times it goes overboard into the shocking.

  4. Have you read novels by John Dunning. The Bookwoman’s Last Fling: A Cliff Janeway Novel (Cliff Janeway Novels) , Booked to Die and Bookman’s Wake. His novels are mysteries that also have information on rare book dealers. I like his novels.

    • Loooove John Dunning — especially “The Bookwoman’s Last Fling.” I collect vintage children’s books, too, though not the ultra-pricey ones Dunning’s victim did. I need to add him to the list. Can you recommend some more? Have you read Abraham Verghese’s “Cutting for Stone?” Not a mystery, but, ohhhh what a wonderful book.

  5. A great list. I’m glad to see Jonathon Gash hasn’t been forgotten. Here are a few that I think are worthy to be added.

    Colin Cotterill – Dr. Siri series
    Ross MacDonald – Lew Archer series
    G.M. Ford – His later work is darker and more serious but the earlier Leo Waterman series was comparable to Donald Westlake at his best. Laugh out loud.
    Peter Tremayne – Sister Fidelma series
    Ariana Franklin – Mistress in the Art of Death series
    James Church – Modern-day noir set in North Korea. Chilling.
    Charles McCarry – the Christopher series. Cold War intrigue.
    Craig Johnson

    I read your book yesterday. Maybe I’m biased, but it was excellent on so many levels. I’m ready for your next.

    • Bill Simpson from long ago? Elise’s nephew? Listen, I welcome bias. I welcome any advantage.
      I’m adding Westlake–don’t know how I missed putting him on the list. I love his Dortmunder series. The others I’ve added to my reading list.. Thank you for your kind words and be well, Bill.

      • Yes, Elise’s nephew. I visited with your parents at Bering a couple of month’s ago. It was great to see them, they look well.
        I seem to recall that you mentioned wanting to write all those years ago. I am so glad you persevered.
        When can we expect the next one?

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