Our TBR (to-be-read) pile just grew longer with these wonderful series that prodigious readers say are their favorites from the mystery / detective / police procedural genre.
We concentrated on series (and not just individual books) because, as book lovers, it’s always a treat for us to discover a good writer who writes a fantastic story with characters we adore…and then realize that there’s more where that one book came from.
We left out some of the “classics” – Sherlock Holmes, Miss Marple, Hercule Poirot, Perry Mason, Nancy Drew, the Hardy Boys – because our main objective in putting this list together is to come up with possibilities for what to read next and it’s very likely most readers will have already read the most well-known mysteries.
The series listed below are mostly arranged in alphabetical order by the name(s) of the main character(s) in the series. We generally used the character’s first name when we sorted the list but make exceptions when the detective’s title has practically become part of their name (e.g., Chief Inspector Gamache, Inspector Lynley, Mrs. Murphy) or when the series is widely better known under a name that’s not the detective’s name (e.g. Thursday Murder Club; Secret, Book, and Scone Society). If you’re looking for your favorite series and you’re not sure under which name it’s listed, using your browser’s search function (Ctrl+F for Google Chrome, for example) will do the trick.
The 15 detective and mystery series that we’ve shortlisted for our own TBR pile are highlighted immediately below. The rest of the 98 are then listed in the section that follows.
Adam Dalgliesh is a Detective Chief Inspector at New Scotland Yard. He is described as a very private and cerebral person and he writes poetry. Set mostly in England, the first book in the series is Cover Her Face. There are 14 books in the series.
Amos Decker was a football player who got a severe hit in the head on his first professional game. When he recovered, his brain had been rewired: he now had hyperthymesia and synesthesia. He became a police officer but then his wife and daughter were killed. While working as a private detective months later, he is asked to help solve a mass murder at a local high school and it becomes apparent that it is connected to his family’s murder. There are seven books in the series, starting with Memory Man.
A lawyer who would rather not practice law, Andy Carpenter prefers to pour his time and energy into his dog rescue organization. He solves mysteries with Tara, his golden retriever. There are 27 books in this series, the first of which is Open and Shut.
Archie Sheridan is a detective in Portland who spends years tracking down a female serial killer named Gretchen Lowell. At one point he actually catches him but lets him go, which keeps Sheridan visiting Lowell weekly in jail. The series, which has been described as having “the creepiest serial killer you’ve ever encountered,” has six books, starting with Heartsick.
Arly Hanks is the female chief of police in a small town in Arkansas. She is described as quick-witted and clever. There are 16 books in the series, starting with Malice in Maggody.
Atlee Pine is an FBI Special Agent whose twin sister Mercy’s abduction from their bedroom 30 years prior inspired her chosen career. The prime suspect in the kidnapping is serial killer Daniel James Tor. The first book in the series, Long Road to Mercy, begins with a person going missing in the Grand Canyon.
Detective Inspector Edgar Stephens was an Oxford student when he was recruited by MI5 into the Magic Men, a special operations group that used illusions and “magic” to trick the enemy during World War II. Now that the war is over, DI Stephens has joined the Brighton police and a case comes up – a girl cut into three pieces in a manner evoking one of his colleague’s magic tricks – that leads him to suspect someone is after the Magic Men themselves. The Zig Zag Girl is the first title in this series of six books, with a seventh on the way. – started and recommended!
Brother Cadfael is a Welsh Benedictine monk who entered the monastery after having been a soldier and a sailor. He is a herbalist and a keen observer of human nature and among the monks he is often called upon to be a diplomat, doctor, and detective. He investigates murders in this 20-book series of historical mysteries, starting with A Morbid Taste for Bones. – started and recommended!
Gabriel Lacey, a former officer in the cavalry, comes back burnt out to Regency London. This 16-book series starts with The Hanover Square Affair, in which a young girl may have been kidnapped by a Member of Parliament. Lacy is described as having an impeccable pedigree but socially awkward, with sympathy for people and a strong sense of justice.
Ella Mae LaFaye goes back home to Georgia when she catches her husband cheating on her in New York. She sets up a pie shop and discovers that her pies are magical…literally. But when her old rival’s fiancé is found dead, killed with her rolling pin, Ella Mae finds herself embarking on an unexpected side hustle: solving mysteries. The series has five books so far, starting with Pies and Prejudice.
Lady Victoria Georgiana Charlotte Eugenie is 34th in line to the throne but her family is broke. She leaves Scotland and flees to London, where she devises all sorts of ways to make money, does the odd favor for Scotland Yard, and helps out Her Majesty the Queen with tasks that take her all over England, Europe, and even across the Atlantic to America. There are sixteen books in the series, beginning with Her Royal Spyness.
Thomas Lynley is a New Scotland Yard homicide detective but he is also the 8th Earl of Asherton. In the first book, A Great Deliverance, Tommy is paired professionally with Barbara Havers, an unconventional sergeant with a working class background and a chip on her shoulder. In subsequent books, they are often joined by Winston Nkata, a former Brixton gang member of African and Carribean descent whose life turned around through the efforts of a kind black police officer. There are 21 books in the series so far. – started and recommended!
Dr. Ruth Galloway is a forensic archaeologist who is asked to assist DCI Harry Nelson when all sorts of bones turn up in the Norfolk area where she lives. The first title in this series is The Crossing Places; there are fourteen published books so far. – started and recommended!
Sebastian St. Cyr is Viscount Devlin, whose experiences in the Napoleonic Wars have left him shattered. In the first book, What Angels Fear, a young woman is found murdered and the evidence points to him. Now he needs to catch the killer and prove his own innocence. There are 17 titles in the series, with an eighteenth coming soon.
Nora Pennington is a bookstore owner whose special talent is listening to a customer’s stories over a fresh-baked scone and recommending the perfect book to ease the person’s pains and burdens. However, a businessman who had been coming to see her for guidance is found dead by the train tracks. Nora then forms the Secret, Book, and Scone Society, a group of “damaged souls” who learn to find purpose and earn redemption by helping others. There are five books in the series so far – with at least one more on the way – beginning with the first title, The Secret, Book & Scone Society.
This post was previously published at BooksBudgetsAndPets.com which is now being sunsetted.