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Friday, March 6, 2020

Reader Question for the Community: Favorite Murder Mystery Books


A reader question for the community: 
I am looking for some great murder mystery books (can there be anything more English than that??).  Do readers have suggestions, perhaps that reflect the themes of SWNE - I love it here!

58 comments:

  1. Any of the classic English Country Manor House mysteries!

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  2. While on vacation last year I discovered Jenifer LeClair's Windjammer Mystery series. I've only read Danger Sector which is the second book in the series but I really enjoyed it. There are lots of descriptions of sailing and coastal island life in Maine where the author has been visiting and sailing for years. I've been meaning to read the other books in the series but have been too 'busy' (eye roll). I think a visit to my local used bookstore is in order this weekend.

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    1. Thank you so much for the suggestion. I once recommended the Maine mysteries by Lea Wait on SWNE only to learn shortly thereafter that she died recently of pancreatic cancer. I was heartbroken. Not only did readers lose a great author, but, as I suddenly realized, we fans lost all the true-to-life characters on her pages. We will never know how their lives unfold; they too are gone. So I have been casting about for some well-written fast-paced mysteries and will try Jennifer LeClair. In the meantime I have been engrossed in Michael Connolly's Harry Bosch series set in LA. But I pine for Maine mysteries or English ones and am grateful for all the terrific suggestions here.

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    2. Like Janet Chapman...

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  3. It's been awhile, but I used to love the Dick Francis books.

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  4. The Amsterdam Cops séries by Janwillem van de Wetering. IIRC he moved to New England and one of the episodes is set there.

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  5. Kate Atkinson, Jackson Brodie series. The first is Case Histories.

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  6. Louise Penny's Armand Gamache series beginning with Still Life
    A Gentleman's Murder by Christopher Huang
    Murder at Melrose Court by Karen Baugh Menuhin

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  7. I have been eyeing the Terry Boone New England mystery series on Amazon. Have not ready any yet, but they get decent reviews. ARH

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  8. Robert Wilson and Mark Billingham.

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  9. The Country Club murders by Julie Mulhern. I think many readers of this blog would recognize several of the characters. The series is funny but each one deals with a serious issue. Very well written and not "cozy" but not too grim either. My favorite series in my favorite genre. Highly recommend.

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  10. I was on a Ngaio Marsh kick a while back. Really really good stories.

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  11. I have much enjoyed the Archer Mayor police-procedural mysteries, most of them set in and around Brattleboro ("Bratt"), and featuring policeman Joe Gunther as the main character.

    The mystery parts of the stories are well done, and there's a continuing thread involving Joe's life, his colleagues, and New England in general and Vermont in particular.

    Paul Doiron writes a series of mysteries set in Maine and featuring Mike Bowditch, a game warden. Many of the stories involve coastal areas.

    A much older series is by "Ed McBain" (Evan Hunter) involving the cops of the 57th precinct in "Isola," a pseudonym for New York City. Titles are often darkly ironic, for example Give the Boys a Great Big Hand, Let's Hear it for the Deaf Man, and So Long As You Both Shall Live.

    Finally, let me put in a plug for Carl Hiassen, who has written about some of the weirdest characters in mystery fiction, with the scenes set in contemporary South Florida. Some titles: Sick Puppy, Tourist Season, Naked Came the Manatee, Bad Monkey.

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  12. Just finished "The Turn of the Key" by Ruth Ware -- she has written several thrillers but this one was really, really good and you'll never guess the ending. Also anything by the late, great Ruth Rendell is excellent. Also fun (but not British) is the Pendergast series by Doug Preston and Lincoln Child. NYT bestsellers!

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  13. The "Archy McNally" series by Lawrence Sanders is a hoot. And, of course, Dorothy L. Sayers and the love of her life, Lord Peter Wimsey.

    NCJack

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  14. Georges Simenon's Maigret mysteries. They portray Paris in the 1930s, 1940s and 1950s, a life that can still be experienced in the city's outlying neighborhoods. M. and Mme. Maigret become familiar and beloved characters.

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  15. "Elephant's Remember" by Agatha Christie. Actually, any of the Agatha Christie books are exactly what you describe you're looking for.

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    1. Davis BeddingfieldMarch 7, 2020 at 5:27 PM

      "Elephants Can Remember." Note absence of apostrophe in "Elephants."

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    2. The Apostrophe Police are ever vigilant.

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  16. ML Longworth's Verlaque and Bonet mysteries are very good. Also check out Martin Walker's Bruno Chief of Police series.

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  17. Since we’ve moved away from England and SWNE, may I recommend James Lee Burke.

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  18. Anything by M.C.Beaton.

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  19. Check out historian Lucy Worsely's A Very British Murder: The Story of a National Obsession, either her book or her (mini)series for BBC4. The fascination with murder is fascinating.

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  20. Colin Dexter's Inspector Morse series. I think there are 13.

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  21. Something different? Inspector montalbano. The translator is a poet.

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  22. Henning Mankel- the Wallander series. Translated from Swedish. reminds me of John Le Carre

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    1. They are excellent. I would recommend reading the series in the order they were written and published.

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  23. Anne


    cleeve- the Vera series and the Shetland series.

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  24. As an American traditionalist and cured anglophile (spent a summer there once, thoroughly enjoyed it, and could not WAIT to get back to America), perhaps I may be forgiven for suggesting a glance back in time. And when one looks in that direction, in my opinion the entire landscape of this genre is dominated by Raymond Chandler. Read all of his detective novels. You might also like Hammett, but he is no Chandler.

    And if you want to begin at the beginning, there is always The Moonstone by Wilkie Collins.

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  25. Some of my favorites:
    Agatha Christie: Miss Jane Marple and Hercule Poirot
    Sir Arthur Conan Doyle: Sherlock Holmes
    Elizabeth George: Inspector Thomas Lynley
    Dorothy L. Sayers: Lord Peter Wimsey
    Donna Leon: Comissario Guido Brunetti
    Georges Simenon: Commissaire Jules Maigret
    Colin Dexter: Chief Inspector Morse
    Margaret Allingham: Albert Campion
    Julia Spencer-Fleming: Rev. Claire Fergusson
    Daphne Du Maurier: "Rebecca"
    Josephine Tey: "Daughter of Time"
    Ken Follett: "Eye of the Needle"

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    1. The Inspector Thomas Lynley series is great. I would suggest starting with " A Suitable Vengeance" instead of the first one published ("A Great Deliverance"). This book gives a lot of background that's helpful whilst reading the series. As an aside, I was surprised to find out that Elizabeth George is actually an American, her writing of a thoroughly British mystery is very well done.

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  26. British Salt Water mysteries:
    Lewis Trilogy by Peter May all set in the Outer Hebrides
    Elly Griffiths Ruth Galloway series set in the Norfolk Coast of UK
    Bernard Cornwall's sailing thrillers, superb especially if you're into sailing
    and although not technically mysteries, the underappreciated
    Dame Daphne Du Maurier's dramas set in her beloved Cornwall:
    Rebecca (has never gone OOP), Jamaica Inn and Frenchman's Creek


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  27. I see I'm rather late to the party.
    all wonderful suggestions.
    if you're looking for some cozy English mystery to curl up with in your favorite chair and enjoy a rainy day... you can't beat M.C. Beaton. she's humorous and always has a neat plot and her mysteries are set in the English Cotswolds and the Highlands of Scotland. she usually does two a year. one Agatha Raisin. and one Hamish Macbeth. they're just wonderful! great atmosphere. (that's always half of it for me!)

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    1. Yes! Agatha Raisin is too funny for words. Someone recommended this series when I was going through a rough patch in life and couldn't concentrate on more "serious" books. These are such a delight.

      Jacqueline

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  28. Has anybody listened to "My Favorite Murder" podcast? Might check it out if you like the genre.

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  29. I just realized you wanted mysteries set in New England and I remembered a series of Martha's Vineyard mysteries by Philip R Craig I came across on a visit to New England. I don't think they were very deep but, if you're familiar with the island, you might enjoy them.

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  30. A new release, The Hunting Party, by Lucy Foley has been reviewed very favorably. A hunting lodge reunion of Oxford classmates turns into a murder mystery. A lot owed to Agatha Christie apparently, in a contemporary setting. I am picking it up - at the library, no less - today. The libraries of New England would be good fodder for SWNE - beginning with the Boston Athenaeum! Libraries in spirit and deed are very New England.

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  31. The Case of the Polyester/Cotton Shirt, by Muffy Aldrich

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  32. A lurker comes in from the cold to mention the Cape Cod detective Asey Mayo, the main character in a 24 volume series by Phoebe Atwood Taylor, published principally in the 1930s and 40s and now mostly forgotten. Wikipedia refers to Mayo as the "Codfish Sherlock." A more "cosy" approach comes from Charlotte MacLeod in her series of books about the quirky Kelling clan of Boston's Beacon Hill.The best of MacLeod's wackiness can be found in Chapter One of The Convivial Codfish.

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  33. I would strongly recommend the Gervase Fen Mysteries by author Edmund Crispin. Fen is an Oxford don who helps solve murders, many of the "locked room" variety. Very droll and interesting commentaries about the eccentricities of British life.
    Also in the Nordic region, I would recommend Torquil MacLeod's Anita Sundstrom mysteries.

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  34. Rita Mae Brown's Sister Jane mysteries, recommended with caveats (the author sometimes inserts her opinions on politics/social topics rather heavy-handedly) - worth the descriptions of hunting, horses/hounds/foxes, nature, and Virginia history/architecture.

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  35. Laura Child’s Tea Shop mysteries are set in Charleston. However, they deal with life in Charleston’s society, museums and art world. They are cozy mysteries and are a fun diversion.

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  36. Robert B. Parker's Spenser series

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  37. The Woman in White by Wilkie Collins. The best of the best in my opinion. Also, just ordered two Charles Finch books--Charles Lenox is his protagonist. Finch has written a slew of books.

    For a very non-English but eminently "unputdownable" books, read anything by Greg Iles--a terrific Natchez, MS writer. Read a few and then go tour all the great houses of Natchez.

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  38. Recommend three - Jo Nesbo, Camilla Lackberg & Lars Kepler. Excellent Scandinavian writers

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  39. This series isn't English, it is most definitely American. And it isn't murder mysteries either, although murder is central to the stories. I am recommending the darkly funny and engaging Hit Man series by Lawrence Block. Many of the books have episodic chapters and can be read as stand-alone stories. Keller, the hit man in question, is a quiet person who lives in New York in a small flat, watches TV, collects stamps with a passion, and every now and then travels somewhere and kills someone on a contract. I've found it a very funny take on the usual mystery because there is nothing mysterious about who the killer is, it is just the set of circumstances and the way Keller carries out the hit that engages us. Try one or two of these stories and see if you like them.

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  40. How about E X Ferrars...English woman...wrote 50 or so, all good to excellent.

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  41. Not exactly murder mysteries, but the Jack Higgins Liam Devlin,Sean Dillon books are great fun and Daniel Silva is a current must read.

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  42. The Emperor of Ocean Park, by Stephen L. Carter. Set partly on Martha's Vineyard (the Ocean Park of the title is in Oak Bluffs), and a well-written window into the black upper class.

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  43. Many heartfelt thanks to all for the work here.
    It is appreciated! Thank you. The whole column is copied/pasted in MSWord to be used.
    Also a shout out to the "Apostrophe's' Polices'."

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  44. What a wealth of information, thank you!

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  45. Mysteries by Allen Eskens. One of the best writers I’ve ever read. Start with “The Life We Bury”.

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  46. And now for something completely different.

    Unraveling Oliver.

    The two new Anthony Horowitz books from his new series. Great listens.

    I agree that Ruth Ware is good. I prefer her other books to Turn of the Key because I had just finished Turn of the Screw not realizing the relationship.

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  47. Maybe take a look at these -

    GO DEEP (A Sinister Plot is Afoot . . .)
    https://www.biffgoddeep.com

    New England Mysteries (ME/CT/NH/MA/RI . . . VT coming in October 2020)
    The first two have some typos, then he got an editor!
    https://www.nemystereies.com

    Comments/suggestions welcomed.

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