7 Best Mystery Books to Read Right Now (According to Mystery Experts)
Looking for a worthwhile mystery book? If you love to read mysteries as much as you love to watch them on MASTERPIECE Mystery!, then we’ve got your must-reads list covered.
We turned to the creator and writers of Grantchester, along with a selection of mystery insiders to get their suggestions for what you should be reading next. From hidden gems, time-tested classics, to new mysteries, indulge in some favorite mystery books as selected by our insiders.
All The Devils Are Here by Louise Penny
I highly recommend Louise Penny’s All the Devils Are Here (Minotaur Books, 2020) the 16th novel featuring Chief Inspector Armand Gamache of the Surêté du Québec. The intricate plot, nuanced relationships, and beautifully evoked Paris setting make this a real standout in Penny’s wildly popular series. The dignified, cerebral Gamache is a detective for the ages, a good man in an often-impossible job whose greatest skill may be his insight into the human heart.
If you haven’t read Penny before, then start with Still Life (St. Martin’s Paperbacks, 2015), the first in the series. There you will meet all the inhabitants of Three Pines, a charming rural village south of Montreal, where Gamache and his family live. From there, Gamache’s investigations range all over Canada giving readers interesting glimpses into our neighbors to the north. Vive Gamache!
Suggested by: Kate Stine, Editor and Publisher of Mystery Scene Magazine
The Beast Must Die by Nicholas Blake
One of my favorite mystery books is The Beast Must Die by Nicholas Blake (Vintage Books, 2012). The story is narrated by a father who tracks down the person he holds responsible for killing his young son in a hit and run accident. The story spirals into several twists and turns, and displays a psychological insight into the grieving process, vengeance, vanity, and how thoughts are so different from words spoken. Not many people know this but, Nicholas Blake’s son is Daniel Day Lewis. I guess with such talent the apple does not fall far from the tree!
Kitty Peck and the Music Hall Murders by Kate Griffin
I’m a big fan of the Kitty Peck mysteries by Kate Griffin. The first book, Kitty Peck and the Music Hall Murders (Faber & Faber, 2019) is set in the down and dirty underworld of London’s East End. It’s 1880 and dancing girls are going missing from ‘Paradise’ the criminal manor run by the ferocious Lady Ginger. Our eponymous heroine must make her way up from lowly maid to take on Lady Ginger and save her friends. The characters in these books leap off the page. It’s so evocative—you can almost smell the Thames!
Suggested by: Daisy Coulam, Grantchester Series Creator
Sandrine's Case by Thomas H. Cook
Sandrine’s Case by Thomas H. Cook (Mysterious Press, 2013) is the story of a man on trial for murdering his wife. He refuses to defend himself and his young daughter, having just lost her mother, cannot understand why her loving father remains silent. As the trial progresses, the man learns things about his wife that he’d never known and falls in love with her all over again. As beautiful and romantic a crime novel as I’ve ever read.
Suggested by: Otto Penzler, Proprietor of The Mysterious Bookshop
Novels by Eva Dolan
Contemporary-wise, I’m really into the Zigic-Ferreira books by Eva Dolan. It’s a kind of buddy-cop series about two second/third-generation immigrant police officers working for a hate-crimes unit in Peterborough, which is in the same part of the world as Grantchester, but the complete opposite of the bucolic idyll. Eva’s characters are great, and her writing is sharp and unapologetic, with something important to say about immigration and identity. The first book in her series is Long Way Home (Vintage UK, 2014).
Suggested by: John Jackson, Grantchester writer
Novels by Margaret Millar
My recommendation would be Margaret Millar, mid-20th century Canadian writer of such masterpieces as Beast in View (Soho Syndicate, 2018), Vanish in an Instant (Soho Syndicate, 2015), and A Stranger in My Grave (Pushkin Vertigo, 2019). She writes complex characters, has a real fascination for and understanding of psychology, and tells a great story in beautiful, unfussy prose. Her books are real page-turners, usually with a great twist at the end. Because she’s laid the groundwork so well, the twist never feels forced—it was hidden in plain sight all along. Genius. She reminds me of [our series creator] Daisy! Only Margaret Millar has a slightly sourer world view, which is like a refreshing slap in the face to an old sentimental like me.
Suggested by: Joshua St. Johnston, Grantchester writer
The Pew Group by Anthony Oliver
The Pew Group (Doubleday, 1985) by Anthony Oliver, is a delightful “forgotten” British farcical mystery featuring the outrageous Lizzie Thomas and her companion in crime, John Webber. It’s the first of four comedic mysteries by world-renown Staffordshire antiques dealer and critic Anthony Oliver. Starting from the first murder (“She didn’t mean to do it, but somehow Doreen Corder’s foot went out just as her detested husband reached the top of the stairs”), this book will keep you entertained and educated in the world of Staffordshire figures and village shenanigans. You’ll probably not eat ham at a funeral anytime soon, either. This title is a wonderful cozy mystery with a quirky, dark side.
Suggested by: Janet Rudolph, Editor of Mystery Readers Journal
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