I love mysteries, especially when the main character is female. I admire how tough they are. Some unfortunately become cynical due to their profession requiring them to face liars, thieves, murderers and anything else in between . Admittedly, facing people who downright disrespect and harm you would make anyone question whether the job is worth it.
But these ladies continue on with their commitment to justice or basically just doing the right thing despite experiencing plenty of job-related, near-death experiences.
I am morbid enough to say majority of my favorite mysteries involve murder. They aren’t even the cute cozy mysteries. The ones I seem to prefer are the ones that holds no punches. Showing readers that death and murder are neither easy nor clean.
Usually motives involve money and passion. The only exception would be the serial murders wherein the murderer does it for his own reasons (regardless of whether it makes sense or not). In any case, whatever the motive could be, please be warned that some of the stories may be triggering with just reading the implications of what the murderer has done
Truth be told, the mystery is sometimes secondary to me as compared to the interesting female protagonists of the following selections. Their background and their current circumstances. And what they do with whatever crap they are given.
So without further ado, here are my recommendations:
1. The Murder at the Vicarage by Agatha Christie
What can I say? I love Miss Jane Marple. She’s a little old lady with keen powers of observation. An old spinster living in the English village of St Mary Meade, she solves murders using her understanding of human nature. Please note that the book was published in 1930 and still continues to be sold present day. So please note that the book’s in-universe setting would be pre-World War II
Not only do readers try to finish this book to find out who the killer is. Readers also marvel that an elderly lady is the one who solves the crime. Not that people should be surprised that she could do it
If you liked this book, please take a look at the other books starring Miss Marple. There’s no need to read these in order by I’ll arrange them based on date of publication
- The Body in the Library (1942)
- The Moving Finger (1942)
- A Murder is Announced (1950)
- They Do It with Mirrors (1952)
- A Pocket Full of Rye (1953)
- 4.50 from Paddington (1957)
- The Mirror Crack’d from Side to Side (1962)
- A Caribbean Mystery (1964)
- At Bertram’s Hotel (1965)
- Nemesis (1971)
- Sleeping Murder (1976)
2. A is for Alibi by Sue Grafton
Set in the 1980s in the fictional Santa Teresa, California, the main character Kinsey Millhone is a licensed private eye. Married and divorced twice. And resigned from the police force to do her own thing as a PI, Kinsey is pretty much an independent woman and prefers to work alone.
I have a love-hate relationship with Kinsey as I really would like her to at least get someone to work with her during her investigations. But at the same time, I respect her for her work ethic. Also, note that this is the 1980s. So she uses typewriters and is incommunicado while traveling due to no cellphones available then.
If you liked the first book, you might want to read the other books in this series in Alphabetical Order
- B is for Burglar
- C is for Corpse
- D is for Deadbeat
- E is for Evidence
- F is for Fugitive
- G is for Gumshoe
- H is for Homicide
- I is for Innocent
- J is for Judgment
- K is for Killer
- L is for Lawless
- M is for Malice
- N is for Noose
- O is for Outlaw
- P is for Peril
- Q is for Quarry
- R is for Ricochet
- S is for Silence
- T is for Trespass
- U is for Undertow
- V is for Vengeance
- W is for Wasted
3. Sworn to Silence by Linda Castillo
Born and raised Amish, Kate Burkholder became the police chief of Painter’s Mill, Ohio many years after breaking away from her family and the Amish faith. With a serial killer on the prowl, Kate is forced to contend with the moment that changed the course of her life
(For readers who aren’t aware of the term Amish, I usually describe them as a group of people wherein 1) the Christian faith is a big part of their lives 2) they do not use a lot of modern technology. Thus, they would usually ride horse-drawn buggies instead of cars. And the men and women wear “old-fashioned” clothes i.e. clothes that could be described as pre 1900s. From what I understand, the Amish don’t have the best impression of Non-Amish people and for Kate to decide not to continue living as Amish means that she would have limited to no contact with her Amish siblings, nieces and nephews)
If you liked this book, you might want to check out the other books in the series:
- Pray for Silence – Book 2
- Breaking Silence – Book 3
- Gone Missing – Book 4
- Her Last Breath – Book 5
- The Dead will Tell – Book 6
- After the Storm – Book 7
- Among the Wicked – Book 8
- Down a Dark Road – Book 9 coming out
4. Play Dead by Anne Frasier
Baby Elise Sandburg was abandoned in a cemetery in Savannah, Georgia. If that wasn’t enough, people suspect that her biological father was Jackson Sweet, an infamous root doctor. In the present day, Elise is a police detective. Her new partner David seems to have something of a death wish. And their latest case involves a serial killer.
Personally, I loved the setting. I’m not a native to the city. But the book gives Savannah an eerie, supernatural feel to it (even though there wasn’t any actual magic used or shown in this book)
If you liked this book, you might want to try the other books in this series:
5. A Murder in Time by Julie McElwain
Kendra Donovan’s parents are into eugenics. And she’s the result of their “experiment.” Anyone aware of that piece of her past feels kinda icky around her even though her success in the FBI is more due to hard work than great genes. But that’s not even the tip of the iceberg that is her problem when she finds herself sent back in time. England in the 1800s to give a better estimate. People think she’s a maid. And when a body is found near castle grounds, she knows enough to be sure it’s the work of a serial killer…
If you liked this book, you might want to try out A Twist in Time which comes out sometime this year (2017)
6. City of The Lost by Kelley Armstrong
Casey Duncan is a police detective with a very dark past. A series of events that include her best friend’s abusive husband continued stalking and a bullet meant for her leads her to conclude (very reluctantly) that it’s time to take her best friend and disappear.
The City of the Lost seems to be the perfect place. It’s specifically designed to house people who want to stay gone. But it does have an application process that include vetting applicants for necessary skills. Casey’s friend doesn’t have needed skills. But Casey does. The said Lost City is in dire need of someone well-versed in police and investigative procedures. Because someone’s killing the residents. It could be a resident of the “Lost City.” Or it could be the residents of the wilderness that surrounds it…A people that have eschewed all forms of civilization.
I love the originality of the story. I know there are stories out there of a town of fairy tale characters or a town of forgotten or not so forgotten gods or supernaturals. But this story is more on the realistic side of the storytelling spectrum. It centers on a town full of people who want to disappear. A lot of them with really shady backgrounds and reasons for wanting to stay lost. Having said that, they live in an area that normal people wouldn’t go to. A wilderness somewhere in Canada populated by what some may call “savages.” So little to no contact with the “outside world.” Which makes important skillsets such as medicine, sewing, cooking etc, really valuable in this town.
There’s some romance going on here. So readers who like mysteries and romance should probably want to give this book a try.
If you liked this book, you might want to read the sequel A Darkness Absolute
Please do give us feedback. We would love to hear from you.