I love a mystery, but for me it’s usually the characters in the story that really make it so great. Over the years, I’ve discovered that there’s nothing better than finding a fabulous mystery series, with those familiar characters you can keep revisiting for new adventures. Feel free to leave a comment with your own favorite series.
Please note that this page is a work in progress.
Hamish Macbeth, by MC Beaton
Fun, cozy reads. Set in the Scottish Highlands, Macbeth is a lazy police constable who wants nothing more than to keep his local village police station. The fun of these books are Hamish and the locals in his small town of Lochdubh.
The series really can be read in any order, although you’ll appreciate the villagers in later books if you’ve read the earlier ones first. I (unknowingly) started with Death of a Village and hopped around the series from there.
Maisie Dobbs, by Jacqueline Winspear
Private Detective in post-WWI London. Maisie Dobbs is such a unique series, and I look forward to each and every book that comes out. Maisie is a psychologist and private detective in post-WWI London. This is a series where you really continue reading for the main characters. Don’t get me wrong – the mysteries are always interesting – but Maisie herself will keep you coming back. Winspear is constantly developing her character, and the historical setting fits the series perfectly.
With Maisie you could start anywhere and enjoy the story. I first picked up The Mapping of Love and Death. And then I went back and started from the beginning.
Inspector Lynley, by Elizabeth George
New Scotland Yard murder mysteries. The magic of this series comes from the partnership (and unexpected friendship) between Thomas Lynley and his partner Barbara Havers. George continues to develop the characters throughout the series, making the books much more than just the mystery at hand.
Read this series in order, starting with A Great Deliverance. Books can be read out of order, and you won’t be lost. But for the Lynley/Havers relationship, I would start at the beginning.
Harry Bosch and Mickey Haller, by Michael Connelly
Fast-paced, gritty detective series set in Los Angeles, California. I picked up The Lincoln Lawyer when it first came out. What an introduction to Michael Connelly! Since then I have read almost all of his novels. I have a few non Bosch/Haller left, but not many. Mickey Haller books are told from the lawyer’s perspective of a case. Harry Bosch is a detective for the LAPD. In some novels you get both Bosch and Haller.
For Mickey Haller, I would start with The Lincoln Lawyer. Harry Bosch? You really could start anywhere. His character does age and change throughout the series, so if you want to remain spoiler-free, start with The Black Echo. But really, with Bosch you should be able to pick up from anywhere and enjoy.
Jack Reacher, by Lee Child
Fast-paced thrillers. Reacher is an Army vet, a nomad who hitchhikes from place to place with only the clothes he is wearing and a toothbrush in his pocket. Each novel, Reacher ends up someplace where there’s trouble, and he always ends up in the middle of it. My husband is actually surprised that I enjoy this series as much as I do, it can be pretty violent.
You can start anywhere with these books. I started in the middle and jumped around. The earlier ones and the the latest ones have been the best.
Cotton Malone, by Steve Berry
Thrillers with a historical twist. Ex-Magellan Billet agent Cotton Malone just wants to retire and run his bookstore in Denmark. Instead of an easy retirement, each novel finds Cotton pulled as a rogue agent into another historical mystery. A recurring cast of characters finds their way in and out of these novels, depending on the setting.
You can start with any Cotton Malone, Berry is good at getting the reader up-to-speed for the current installment. Just pick the historical mystery you find the most interesting.
Agent Pendergast, by Douglas Preston and Lincoln Child
Supernatural thrillers. I’m not going to lie to you – these can be weird books. But they will pull you right in. Pendergast is an FBI agent, and we find him frequently working cases with Vincent D’Agosta of the NYPD. As the books move on, we see a few more recurring characters enter the series.
Preston and Child like to make some stories arc over multiple books, so be careful where you start with Pendergast. The first two books – Relic and Reliquary – should be read sequentially. Then there are several trilogies, Brimstone is the start of one, Fever Dream the start of another. I would recommend starting at the beginning just so you don’t get lost in the later books.
Kinsey Millhone, by Sue Grafton
1980’s Private Investigator in Santa Teresa, California. Often referred to as “the alphabet series,” Ms. Grafton’s books are always a great read. Kinsey is smart and enjoys her job. These are character driven stories, while incorporating the cases that Kinsey is working on. Some of the books get more personal than others. The Kinsey Millhone series has been a go-to for me for 20 years.