Lillian Jackson Braun
The lighthearted The Cat Who . . . mysteries, set in a fictional Michigan town “400 miles north of everywhere,” center around the life of former newspaper reporter James Qwilleran and his two Siamese cats KoKo and YumYum.
James Lee Burke
Burke’s best-selling series features detective Dave Robicheaux of Iberia Parish, Louisiana – a man who “is haunted by his own alcoholism and his desire to do right in a world ruled by insanity.”
Set in Charleston, the Tea Shop Mysteries feature tea shop owner and amateur sleuth Theodosia Browning. Childs’ Scrapbook Mysteries are set in the French Quarter of New Orleans and feature scrapbook store owner Carmela Bertrand. And her cozy third series, the Cackleberry Club Mysteries, feature café owners Suzanne, Toni and Petra.
A native Coloradan who hails from a pioneer family, Coel has been turning out a prize-winning series which places her right up there beside Tony Hillerman. Her Wind River novels are set among the Arapahoes on a Wyoming reservation, with an intriguing pair of protagonists: Jesuit priest Father John O’Malley and Arapahoe attorney Vicky Holden.
Connelly won a best first novel award from the Mystery Writers of America for The Black Echo, based partly on a true crime, and the first in his series featuring LAPD detective Hieronymus “Harry” Bosch.
The Kay Scarpetta mysteries are solved through the forensic investigations of the main character, a Richmond, Virginia medical examiner. The novels are rich in complex story lines, characters and relationships.
J. W. Jackson, a former Boston cop now living on Martha’s Vineyard, is the protagonist of Craig’s series, which has been described as “a breath of fresh air, with a touch of murder most foul.” In addition to the spectacular Vineyard settings, Craig’s mysteries usually include a touch of romance and plenty of good cooking.
Stephanie Plum is a New Jerseyite and “fugitive apprehension agent” (aka bounty hunter) with a smart mouth and a talent for trouble. The series’ titles run in numerical order, with an occasional “Between-the-Numbers” title thrown in.
George’s stylish, intricately-plotted Inspector Lynley mystery novels are set so convincingly in Great Britain that it is hard to believe their author is an American writing in the United States. Several titles in the series have been adapted for television by the BBC.
Grafton’s popular “alphabet mysteries,” beginning with A is for Alibi, are set in the fictional town of Santa Teresa, California and are written from the perspective of female private investigator Kinsey Millhone. The author has stated that the final novel in the series, the publication date yet to be determined, will be titled Z is for Zero.
Most of Hillerman’s mysteries are set in the Four Corners area of New Mexico and Arizona, and feature Joe Leaphorn and his sidekick Jim Chee, both of the Navajo tribal police. The series is rich in Navajo, Hopi, and Zuni atmosphere and cultural detail as well as the natural wonders of the American Southwest.
James, approaching age 90, has been producing her elegantly written literary mysteries since the 1950s. Her protagonist is the Scotland Yard investigator and distinguished poet Commander Adam Dalgliesh.
Judith Ann (J. A.) Jance is the prolific author of mysteries featuring retired Seattle Police Department officer J. P. Beaumont, Arizona small-town sheriff Joanna Brady, and Diana Ladd Walker, among others. The Beaumont and Brady series intersect in the novel “Partner in Crime.” Jance has also published a number of stand-alone suspense novels and psychological thrillers.
Kellerman’s training and career in psychology have shaped the development of his series’ main character, Alex Delaware, a retired child psychologist who solves murders with the help of LAPD detective Milo Sturgis, his sometime girlfriend Robin Castagna, and his French bulldog Spike.
Leon is the American author of the Venetian crime novels featuring the intelligent, warm-hearted police commissioner Guido Brunetti and his colorful colleagues and family. Although each case stands alone, revealing a different aspect of life in the city of the doges, this series is character-driven enough that it’s probably best read in chronological order.
Jo (pronounced “Yoo”) Nesbo is hardly an author to get cozy with, and his tortured, explosive Norwegian detective Harry Hole (pronounced “Hoo-eh”) is no Hercule Poirot. His series is a hit though, and was even before Stieg Larsson came on the sceen.
Robert B. Parker
Parker’s Spenser has become one of mystery fiction’s best-known private detectives – a tough guy who quotes poetry, lives by his own moral code, and maneuvers with equal ease through the upper reaches and seamy undersides of the Boston settings he inhabits. Jesse Stone and Sunny Randall are the main characters in Parker’s two other, more recent, series, although Spenser remains his standout protagonist.
Quebec’s Chief Inspector Armand Gamache is featured. The author of this series is praised by the critics “for allowing her characters to develop from book to book . . . and by allowing the mysteries themselves to changes, in terms of setting and the nature of the crime itself.”
Perry’s historical detective novels are set in Victorian England and feature Inspector William Monk and Hester Latterly, his love interest and future wife, with whom he solves his cases with “the single-minded determination of the obsessed,” scornfully ignoring the social conventions and class distinctions of his era.
Elizabeth Peters is a pseudonym for Barbara Mertz (who also writes gothic novels under the pen-name Barbara Michaels). As Peters, she produces the popular Amelia Peabody series, starting with Crocodile on the Sandbank, set in Egypt in the late 19th to early 20th centuries.
After five years, the cantankerous alcoholic Scottish detective John Rebus makes a 2013 comeback in Standing in Another Man’s Grave, the latest in Rankin’s best-selling series belonging to what’s known as the “Tartan Noir” genre.
Scottoline was a lawyer before turning to fiction writing, and her legal thrillers, featuring Mary DiNunzio and her all-female Philadelphia law firm, are packed with humor, mystery, eroticism and smart plotting.
This mystery series, set in 1930s Great Britain, features real-life author Josephine Tey, one of the grandes dames of the Golden Age of detective fiction.