Growing up, I wasn’t really much of a mystery fan. Of course, I read a few Nancy Drews, but otherwise I kept my nose stuck in realistic fiction picks. I wanted to read about characters I could relate to, and as a child I was never really much of a detective. As an adult however, this is a genre that has brought me some of my favorite books, and in fact led me to some great mystery series. There’s nothing like the feeling of finishing a great book and knowing that there are 15+ more books about the same characters, waiting to be read! Things I look for in a good mystery: interesting, well-developed characters and a not-so-obvious storyline. I don’t want to be able to solve the mystery until the main character does! Today I’m sharing three mystery series that have been keeping me guessing lately.
Inspector Gamache Series by Louise Penny
I LOVE these books. It may sound crazy but reading these murder mysteries set in Three Pines, a small, imagined village in Quebec, Canada makes me feel all warm and cozy and relaxed. Over the course of these 12 books (and counting – the next book comes out in August!), you really get to know Inspector Gamache and the other characters in Three Pines. While they may not all be as likeable as the Inspector, Penny’s writing does make you care about what happens to each of them. I discovered these books while listening to the “What Should I Read Next” podcast by Anne Bogel and was warned that the first two are a little slow. I liked them all, but if you want to start with book 3 you won’t miss too much. I do find that each book is better than the last and can’t wait for the next one to come out. The series starts with Still Life.
Duncan Kincaid and Gemma James Series by Deborah Crombie
After finishing all the Louise Penny books, I was looking for another mystery series that could be my default cozy, happy read. Deborah Crombie was recommended as someone to read if you like Louise Penny, and I’m so glad I gave her books a try. They are all set in London and I really enjoy that aspect of the stories. The main characters are both police detectives, who start out as work partners and along the way start a personal relationship. For me, a good mystery has to keep me guessing until the end, and Crombie does that. Most of the time I will be reading the last 20 pages of the book, and still have no idea how the mystery will be solved. I like how the books weave the details of the crimes around the personal lives of the characters. There are 17 books in this series, and I have read 13 so far. A Share in Death is the first book in the series. Just like Penny, Deborah Crombie seems to get better with each book she writes.
Maisie Dobbs Series by Jacqueline Winspear
My all time favorite reading genre is historical fiction, so I love this series, which marries historical fiction with mystery. The first book, Maisie Dobbs, is set in London, right after WWI, with flashback scenes and storyline from during the war. The books continue up to the start of WWII so far. Just like Deborah Crombie, Winspear combines the personal details of Maisie’s life with the crimes she has to solve. The characters are what makes these stories so good; after finishing one book, I would want to start the next one immediately, just to find out what happened next.
As I mentioned above, I am up to date with the Inspector Gamache and Maisie Dobbs series, and only have three more Deborah Crombie books to read. After that I’ll be going through serious mystery withdrawal! So if you’ve got a few great mystery recommendations, leave them in the comments for me.