Whodunnit: Favorite Mystery Series

From childhood, I always enjoyed a good mystery.  Clue was my favorite board game and scavenger hunts were adored.  What started my obsession with mysteries?  I’m not sure exactly, but if forced to hazard a guess I’d say Nancy Drew, Encyclopedia Brown, and Cam Jansen are responsible.  All characters in mystery series of my childhood, they inspired my love for the “Whodunnit”. 

Series writing is great because after a while, the characters begin to feel like extensions of my family or circle of friends–I love the familiarity!  I still enjoy mystery series today–they are fun, quick, and great for in-the-car listening.  A few of my favorite ‘sleuths’ (for not all of them are technically detectives) are:

  • Archy McNally (Lawrence Sanders/Vincent Lardo)
  • Stephanie Plum (Janet Evanovich)
  • Jim Qwilleran (Lilian Jackson Braun)
  • Alex Delaware and Milo Sturgis (Jonathan Kellerman)
  • Kay Scarpetta and Pete Marino (Patricia Cornwell)
  • Kinsey Milhone (Sue Grafton)

Does the mystery genre do it for you?  Any suggestions for great series detectives I’ve missed?  I hate to admit it, but I never got into Sherlock Holmes or any Agatha Christie (except the movie versions of Hercule Poirot with Peter Ustinov).


  • At 2009.04.30 18:02, bermudaonion said:

    I love Stephanie Plum and Kinsey Millhone, but have gotten tired of Kay Scarpetta.

    • At 2009.04.30 18:16, claire said:

      Clue was my favourite board game, too, and Nancy Drew my fave series. After growing out of Nancy Drew, however, I tried a little Agatha Christie, which I liked, but then I was distracted by other writers I loved more, not mystery. Nowadays I hardly ever read mystery (except stuff like The Name of the Rose). But, I’ve been wanting to read Alexander McCall Smith for a few years now, but haven’t gotten around to. Also, I have The Sweetness at the Bottom of the Pie from the library right now. 😀

      • At 2009.04.30 19:37, mari said:

        I love mysteries. I read Agatha Christie a lot and started the Patricia Cornwell and Mary Higgins Clark books in high school.

        You know, I played CLUE for the first time this Christmas! So much fun. 🙂

        • At 2009.04.30 20:55, Positively Present said:

          I used to be really into Agatha Christie and Nancy Drew books when I was growing up. I don’t know why I stopped reading them… Maybe I’ll have to try to get into it again…

          • At 2009.04.30 20:57, Tammy Sorrell said:

            You’ve got to give Thomas Lynley and Barbara Havers a try — Elizabeth George’s Scotland Yard duo. Very well written and always a great story. Definitely read them in order — the history of Lynley and Havers builds over time, even though each book is a separate mystery.

            • At 2009.04.30 21:20, Steph said:

              The mystery series I’ve been raving about lately (even though it’s only 2 books in) are the novels by Tana French, which follow the (fictitious) Dublin Murder Squad. The writing is divine, and they’re total pageturners. I like to think of them as CSI:Dublin as they are more procedural in their nature. But REALLY good. Start with In The Woods and you’ll see what I mean.

              • At 2009.04.30 21:21, Terra said:

                I still love the Mary Higgins Clark books and recently have come to love anything by Harlan Coben as well. Hold Tight was just awesome.

                • At 2009.04.30 21:54, Hayden Tompkins said:

                  Isn’t Lilian Jackson Braun the author responsible for all those cat/murder books?

                  I have tried to read those a million times (my grandmother has them at her house and eventually I get desperate enough to try anything) and I can’t you anything about any of the books. Except one has cat pawprints on the cover…and the cover is white with red accents. But as for story, characters, etc? Zilch.

                  Now Encyclopedia Brown? He was probably my first book crush. (Until Gilbert Blythe of course!)

                  • At 2009.05.01 05:43, vivienne said:

                    This is not an area I have really ever got into. Perhaps I am missing out on something here. I used to read the Kay Scarpetta ones years ago, but I haven’t read any since I had children. I got bored of them in the end- perhaps I need to approach them with a fresh pair of eyes.

                    • At 2009.05.01 09:41, Becky Workman said:

                      Mysterys are my favorite too! I just started James Patterson’s Women’s Murder Club series, and I’ll agree with another comment here about Elizabeth George’s Scotland Yard Duo. A series that I’m totall caught up with and LOVE is the Eve Duncan stories by Iris Johansen. I also just started the Sue Grafton series with Kinsey Milhone but I was bummed with A is for Alibi. Hope they get better!

                      • At 2009.05.01 11:29, Jessica said:

                        Clue is still one of my faves. The kids love to play it, so that and Scrabble are common for us. Thank goodness!

                        I have not read a good mystery in awhile. I should…I loved them as a kid.

                        • At 2009.05.01 13:24, Cathy said:

                          Deborah Crombie’s Kincaid & James series… Nevada Barr’s Anna Pigeon series… Earlene Fowler’s Benni Harper series… Charlaine Harris’ Harper Connelly and Lily Bard series… Craig Johnson’s Sheriff Walt Longmire series… I could continue on, but won’t! LOL

                          • At 2009.05.01 15:11, Hermie's Mom said:

                            Have you ever watched the movie version of Clue? It is one of my all-time favorite movies…one of the few I can quote lines from…along with Top Gun, of course. But I digress…

                            I LOVED Encyclopedia Brown when I was younger. I actually plan to reread at least one for the Childhood Favorites challenge. I was also a Nancy Drew Files fan…I never really got into the original series.

                            I have this one (http://www.amazon.com/Murder-Binding-Lorna-Barrett/dp/0425219585/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&s=books&qid=1241208568&sr=1-1) checked out from the library right now, but haven’t started it yet.

                            • At 2009.05.01 21:08, Connie said:

                              I don’t read many mysteries, but I do remember loving a series of sort of paranormal mystery books when I was younger, written by Zilpha Keatley Snyder, The Headless Cupid and The Egypt Game, things like that. Does anybody else remember these?

                              • At 2009.05.01 21:12, Jenners said:

                                I went through a mystery phase a few years back … I still love visiting with Kinsey Millhone … but I gave up Ms. Plum (too repetitive after awhile) and Ms. Cornwell seems to have lost her writing mojo that last time I checked in with her. And I think I had read almost all the Alex Delaware books and then stopped about three years ago.

                                I just discovered Simon Serraullier books by Susan Hill earlier this year — not your typical “detective mystery” series — and hope to continue on with him. I’m so fickle.

                                • At 2009.05.01 22:23, Carrie K. said:

                                  I’ve been loving the Stephanie Plum books on audio – I’m on number 4. I also like the Kinsey Milhone series.

                                  I would suggest Laurie R. King’s Mary Russell/Sherlock Holmes series – the first is The Beekeeper’s Apprentice. Also, P.D. James’ Adam Dalgliesh series – Cover Her Face is first.

                                  • At 2009.05.02 11:00, pannonica said:

                                    Never cared for Agatha Christie but was always intrigued when I saw the huge selection of Ngaio Marsh mysteries but never read her. Liked her name.

                                    Read the Sue Grafton books as they came out but had had enough after G is for Gumshoe.

                                    Some others I’ve read, in no particular order:

                                    All or most of:
                                    • Gideon Oliver (Aaron J. Elkins)
                                    • Peter McGarr (Bartholomew Gill)
                                    • V.I. Warshowski (Sara Peretsky)
                                    • Bernie Rhodenbarr (Lawrence Block)
                                    • Porfiry Rostnikov (Staurt M. Kaminsky)

                                    One or a few of:
                                    • Adam Dalgliesh (P.D. James)
                                    •Nero Wolfe (Rex Stout)
                                    •Emma Grahyam (Martha Grimes)
                                    •Héctor Belascoarán Shayne (Paco Ignacio Taibo II)
                                    •Kay Scarpetta (Patricia Cornwell)
                                    •Aurelio Zen (Michael Dibdin)

                                    When I was a kid:
                                    • Encyclopedia Brown
                                    • Charlie Chan (Earl Der Biggers)
                                    • C. Auguste Dupin (Edgar Allen Poe)

                                    Also, most everything by Donald E. Westlake, but many aren’t quite mysteries.

                                    • At 2009.05.02 11:05, pannonica said:

                                      Oh, oh, oh!

                                      I just have to recommend the four Hilary Tamar books that Sarah Caudwell wrote: Thus Was Adonis Murdered, The Shortest Way to Hades, The Sirens Sang of Murder, and The Sibyl in Her Grave.

                                      • At 2009.05.02 11:41, nat @ book, line, and sinker said:

                                        how do you like my new text widget? i had to build a TABLE. i’m so crafty, right? haha.

                                        • At 2009.05.02 14:05, Ruth @ Bookish Ruth said:

                                          I love Sherlock Holmes so much that I’ve dedicated the entire month of May on my blog to Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s work in celebration of his 150th birthday. I don’t re-read a lot of books, but I’ve read and re-read Doyle’s work more times than I can count, and the stories are still as entertaining and as interesting as they were during my first read. Laurie R. King’s Mary Russell and Sherlock Holmes series is a very close second — another series that can be read over and over.

                                          • At 2009.05.03 08:46, Molly said:

                                            I have just re-introduced myself to the mystery genre (LOVED Nancy Drew as a child). I am trying to be very methodical and read the first book in several different series – then decide which one(s) I want to continue. So far I have read Elizabeth George – Anne Perry – Stephanie Barron – Joanne Fluke – Laura Child – Lorna Barrett. Others I want to try include Janet Evanovich – Rys Bowen – Laurie King. I have not been disappointed with any of them

                                            • At 2009.05.04 12:16, Holley said:

                                              I love Chelsea Cain’s books! She’s a relatively new author with 2 books out in a projected series: Heartsick and Sweetheart.

                                              A little gory so if you are sensitive to that, these might not be for you. A sort of House meets Patricia Cornwell type vibe.

                                              • At 2009.05.06 10:05, Barbara Sharpe said:

                                                I’m a fan of “cozy mysteries” these days. I love the CoffeeHouse series and the Home Repair is Homicide series. I am also, it would appear, a fan of series books.

                                                • At 2009.05.20 13:28, suziqoregon said:

                                                  Mystery series are my favorites – I have way too many series going right now.

                                                  Some of my favorites that haven’t already been mentioned

                                                  The Alan Banks series by Peter Robinson (English Detective)
                                                  Andy Carpenter series by David Rosenfelt
                                                  Rev. Claire Ferguson series by Julia Spencer Fleming

                                                  Cozy Type Mystery series I like
                                                  China Bayles by Susan Wittig Albert (former lawer turned herb shop owner in Texas)
                                                  The Teashop series by Laura Childs (I the Charleston, SC area)
                                                  Sarah Booth Delaney series by Carolyn Haines (has a sassy ghost)

                                                  I liked what you said about audio making some books so much better.

                                                  One series I love on audio is Elizabeth Peters’ Amelia Peabody series – Victorian Era Egypotologists – FUN and read by Barbara Rosenblat.

                                                  Another light fun series I enjoyed on audio was the Mrs. Pollifax series (again read by Barbara Rosenblat).

                                                  • At 2010.10.19 21:48, michelle said:

                                                    LOVE the series novels. Absolutely- because i become attached to the characters. When I finish with a book, I feel sort of empty, like a good friend has moved away- lonely. Kinsey Milhone (Grafton) is one of my favorites. I like that she is flawed and inconsistent, and that she sometimes is too tired to run. I cried for 10 minutes at the end of U is for Undertow. So what if some people think its sappy. I thought it was wonderful. A casual reader of the alphabet series would not be attached to Kinsey, because reading a few books here and there does not help one to understand her character and to see how she has “grown up” and matured since A. A casual reader would not care about the ending of U, because he would not have the empathy for Kinsey’s struggle with family/ lack there of- for 38 years.
                                                    I CANNOT WAIT FOR V! I miss Kinsey, and love the way Grafton allows her characters to tell their own stories.

                                                    (Required, will not be published)

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