My Favorite Mystery & Thriller Books
Old, current, and worth the read!
I’ve had mystery & thriller on my mind a lot lately. Mostly because I’m in the middle of writing a mystery/thriller serial that will be releasing to paid subscribers starting January 1st, 2024. There will be some teaser things coming for you on Mondays this month but all this got me thinking about my favorite literary mystery/thriller series that I’ve read or I’m in the middle of continuing to read. These series heavily influence the writing I’m doing today. If you have heard of these, then perhaps my serial will be up your alley. And if you haven’t, maybe they sound interesting enough to make you want to give them a try.
THE KOPP SISTERS SERIES by
I have to admit, I’m putting this first because the writer of these books is actually on Substack and I think that’s amazing! Okay, so, just to make sure I don’t absolutely butcher what this fantastic series is about, here is what Amy, herself, has to say about the series from her website:
Several years ago, I stumbled across a newspaper article about a forgotten woman in law enforcement: Constance Kopp. I was immediately enchanted by her story, and that of her two sisters. For well over a decade, their exploits as crime-fighters and detectives made newspapers nationwide–but they’d been entirely forgotten. I knew immediately that I had to tell their story.
The books have been translated into a dozen languages, and adopted by book clubs and Community-wide Read programs.
But all that matters to me is that I pay tribute to these extraordinary women and give you the chance to love them as much as I do.
There are 7 books in the series out right now, and if you’re in the mood for a story that is far better than fiction about some bad ass sisters who solve crime better than any man ever could, I recommend at least sinking your teeth into the first book, GIRL WAITS WITH GUN.
THE ALEX DELAWARE SERIES by Jonathan Kellerman
There are 38 books in this series, with the 39th coming in February 2024. But don’t get overwhelmed by that number. What I love about this series is that you don’t have to read them in order. The first book was published in 1985! And ever since then he’s published at least one book per year in this series about a psychologist who’s friend is a private detective. The detective will lean on his friend, Alex, for help in solving some cases. There is, of course, a bit more to it than that. But I love that the main character solves cases well because of his knowledge in psychology. I came across this series and writer because of a stand alone book called Billy Straight. I was hooked. It was also at a time when being a behavioral analyst with the FBI was high on my career goals list. Suffice it to say, I’m not working for the FBI today (or am I…) but my love of this series still remains to this day.
You can find all 39 in the series here. I’d recommend any of them to start with but for good measure, try his most recent and if you enjoy it, then go back in time to see what thrillers were like when written in the mid-1980s.
HAWTHORNE & HOROWITZ by Anthony Horowitz
I feel as if this next man needs very little introduction. I’d be surprised if you didn’t already know who he was or his name. Especially if you love mystery television series as much as I do. He has a laundry list of accolades and accomplishments under his hat, but let me mention those which I only just recently discovered myself (after I loved this particular series, that is…).
He’s written the telescripts for many episodes of my favorite television series: Poirot (David Suchet) and Midsomer Murders.
Author to other notable series such as:
If you didn’t know, in order to write within the canon of Sherlock Holmes or James Bond, you would need to be asked (or ask yourself) by the estate that has ownership of the IP. Similar to how Sophie Hannah is currently continuing to write Hercule Poirot mystery books. It is an honor, to say the least, and they don’t ask just anyone to do it. He’s pretty dope and the Hawthorne and Horowitz series is even more dope.
The premise is that Anthony Horowitz is approached by Hawthorne, and semi-washed-up former detective. Strangely enough, Anthony Horowitz finds himself in a similar Watson-esque situation where he’s asked by Hawthorne to write a sort of autobiography. Detailing a case that Hawthorne intends to solve. This could be how he gets himself back in good graces with…well…everybody who’s ever written him off. This unlikely friendship blossoms where Horowitz tags along in order to write the story and Hawthorne solves the cases.
I think what I love more than the connection these two characters have, are the titles of the books. They are so clever. I’ve always wanted to not only write a mystery series that has heart and purpose like these books, but also is accompanied by pretty cool titles as well. I recommend starting with book one, The Word is Murder, and then working your way through them.
THURSDAY MURDER CLUB MYSTERIES by Richard Osman
I am heavily influenced by British television and literature. You’ll discover this about me fairly quickly. Richard Osman is someone I discovered from watching him on a season of Taskmaster. It’s a great variety show about some UK celebrities (not all comedians) who are given some pretty ridiculous tasks to complete, points are arbitrarily handed out by the host, and the winner at the end gets a useless trophy. My wife and I laugh till we are in tears watching this show. But I digress.
It turns out that many of the participants in this television show also are authors. Richard Osman among them. He’s written a pretty amazing series that is still active today. The 4th in the series has recently released in the states. I like to think of it as a cross between The Golden Girls and Murder, She Wrote.
Four septuagenarians with a few tricks up their sleeves
A female cop with her first big case
A brutal murder
THE THURSDAY MURDER CLUB
FLAVIA DE LUCE MYSTERY SERIES by Alan Bradley
Alan Bradley Alan Bradley's internationally bestselling series follows 11-year-old Flavia de Luce—a precocious amateur detective and aspiring chemist with a passion for poison—as she solves the never-ending mysteries of her small English village.
I love how well written this series is. It just works. You might think it couldn’t because it’s a child solving crimes but it’s no less believable than J.B. Fletcher or Father Brown inserting themselves into a murder to help the authorities bring the killer to justice.
I recommend reading the first book, The Sweetness at the Bottom of the Pie, and then going forward from there as they are stand-alone but do follow an order from her first case and so on. I’m not 100% sure the series will continue as Alan Bradley is getting on in age. I’m just glad for the books he has written for us to enjoy.
What, if any, mystery/thriller series have you read or are in the middle of reading?
Next week, I’ll be sharing some television series and episodes that I recommend mostly because they influenced me, in a positive way, to pursue writing my own mystery/thriller series in the future.