I’ve always been an avid reader, to the point where I’d read anything. As a kid, I’d didn’t own a lot of books, but I read the ones I had over and over. I borrowed the maximum number of books from the library every week and read them. Sometimes twice before I returned them.
I read cereal boxes at breakfast. Every day. Magazines. Books—even math books were fair game if there wasn’t anything else handy.
I loved series books like Nancy Drew and the hardy Boys, but I never realized that “grown up” books could come in a series too. But because I never read with a plan, I’d read anything that came my way. And as an adult, every spare dollar I had went to buying books. More or less randomly, based on the cover or a friend’s recommendation. Or a great review. But still, random.
And then, I Fell in Love with Spenser
Okay, what dedicated mystery reader doesn’t love Robert B. Parker’s Spenser books? As a young adult, I read one, and then a year later as I was reading a mystery book I’d just picked up off the new releases table in my local bookstore, I realized I knew these characters. I already loved them. I immediately went back to the bookstore and bought the whole series, and I’ve bought them every year since. And since Jesse Stone and Sonny Randall are part of the Spenser universe, I buy and read them too. Even the ones that Parker didn’t write.
JP Beaumont and Joanna Brady
At one point I had a major literary crush on JP Beaumont. Beau was smart and troubled, making him an ideal object for my literary passions. Beau led me to Sheriff Joanna Brady, and suddenly, I was a diehard JA Jance fan.
Who Wouldn’t Love Tony Hillerman’s Books? And Craig Johnson’s?
The cultural immersion coupled with the compelling mysteries and the characters so real that they might have been sitting next to you on the couch whispering the story in your ear made Hillerman’s books irresistible to me. I love that his daughter, Anne Hillerman, has taken up the mantle and continues writing books featuring these endlessly fascinating characters.
And loving Tony Hillerman’s books led me to Craig Johnson’s Longmire series. Walt Longmire is a tough guy, but he’s funny, and he reads, listens to opera, and loves his family fiercely. How could I resist?
Series in a Category All Their Own
Elly Griffiths, Rhys Bowen, Jodi Taylor, Mick Herron.
Griffiths’ Dr. Ruth Galloway is one of the most relatable characters I’ve ever encountered in a book. I picked up the first one, and read the whole series, one after another, until I caught up to the author and had to wait for the next one.
Rhys Bowen’s Royal Spyness mystery novels are light and funny. Georgie and her maid are disaster magnets, and being sixth in line for the throne of England can really cramp Georgie’s style. Love her.
Jody Taylor’s St. Mary’s time travel series are laugh out loud funny, right from the first page, and every page thereafter. She can’t possibly write them fast enough to satisfy my desire to read the next one. And the next.
And Mick Herron’s Slough House series is a delight. Filled with sly humor, great descriptions, compelling characters, backstabbing politicians, and ambitious executives, the books are so good you have to race through them. And his crew of misfit spies is utterly endearing, even while the reader despairs of them ever solving a case except by mistake. Another series that can’t possibly come out fast enough to meet my need to revisit the characters.
Some New England Writers’ Series I Love
Lucy Burdette’s Key West food critic mysteries are as delicious as the food the main character gets to eat throughout each novel. Barbara Ross’s Maine Clambake series—a winner. Our own Michele Dorsey’s Sabrina Salter series has a winning combination of a likeable protagonist, great mysteries, and an exotic location. Edwin Hill’s Hester Thursby—a unique and compelling heroine in a series of unique and compelling mystery novels. Hank Phillippi Ryan’s Jake and Jane series. Michael Palmer’s medical thrillers. Bruce Robert Coffin’s police procedurals.
New England is blessed with an abundance of exceptionally talented mystery writers with great series. As a result, I’m sure I’m forgetting some of my own favorite mystery series, never mind touching on your favorites.
What are Your Favorite Mystery Novel Series?
Which leads me to you. What are some of your favorite mystery novel series? They don’t have to be New England based. Which mystery series books do you eagerly await? And why?
Or do you prefer to read standalones? Comment below and tell us what you think. I’m looking forward to your recommendations.
About Sharon Ward
Sharon Ward is the author of the traditional mysteries In Deep, Sunken Death, and Dark Tide, and the forthcoming Killer Storm, all part of the Fin Fleming Sea Adventures Thriller series.
Sharon was a marketing executive at prominent software companies Oracle and Microsoft before starting her writing business. She was also a PADI certified divemaster who has hundreds of dives under her weight belt.
Sharon is a member of Sisters in Crime, MWA, ITW, Grub Street, and the Cape Cod Writers Center.
She lives near Cape Cod with her husband Jack and their miniature long-haired dachshund Molly.