As you know, I mainly write cozy mysteries, some set in the 1930s or 1960s, some in the ‘now’, and one even set in both the present and the past. Cozy mysteries or cozy crime is the genre where I feel most at home, and those are the kind of books I love to read. I have been reading this genre since I was about 9 or 10 years old, when I began first with the Famous Five, then the Secret Seven, then on to Patricia Wentworth and Agatha Christie. I have always loved the idea of detecting along with the ‘official’ sleuth, trying to get to the clues and figure out ‘whodunit’ before the book’s detective.
If you ever get stuck for books to read, maybe cast your eye over this list and see if there are any names that are new to you. These are the mystery authors whose books I enjoy the most, some are old and some are modern. When you find an author you really like, do you read their books over and over again, or do you remember the too well to do that?
I love to revisit old favourites, but I have a pretty good memory for characters and plots, so I often remember a book too well to enjoy it unless a lot of years have gone by. There are some books where I just reread the beginning – I love a good beginning that sets up the story perfectly and for the reader, there is that delicious sense of anticipation. But I do reread books that I know really well, sometimes I enjoy watching something unfold on the page even though I know exactly what to expect and when.
So then, my favourite mystery authors, here we go, and in no particular order:
Agatha Christie: obvs you’ve all read her books! But have you tried Death Comes As The End – set in ancient Egypt, it’s an interesting variation on the classic murder mystery genre. My personal favourites are Evil Under the Sun, Death Comes As the End, and Death on The Nile.
Patricia Wentworth: if you like ‘em traditional with plenty of romance, these are for you! Often overlooked these days though her books have been enjoying a new lease of life through reprinting. My favourites are: The Girl In The Cellar, The Listening Eye and The Chinese Shawl.
Mary Stewart: not a cozy as such, her books fall into the category of romantic suspense along with authors like Phyllis Whitney. Of Mary’s books, I really enjoy: The Gabriel Hounds, Madam, Will You Talk? and Nine Coaches Waiting. She does that thing where she uses a quote from scripture or Shakespeare as a chapter subtitle. I love that!
Phyllis Whitney: this lady wrote zillions of books before she passed away just a few years ago. My favourites are The Red Carnelian, Columbella and The Turquoise Mask.
Another romantic suspense author is M M Kaye. Look for her ‘Death in…’ short series of 6 books. For me, the best ones are Death in Zanzibar, Death in the Andamans, and Death in Berlin. Try them and let me know if you have a different favourite!
Coming back to modern cozies, how about trying Helena Dixon? I am a big fan of her Miss Underhay series, which like my own books, are set in Britain in the 1930s. Book 1 is called Murder at The Dolphin Hotel, and although you can read them in any order, reading from the beginning will enhance your pleasure as there are continuing storylines that carry on from one book to the next.
Don’t forget to give Sara Rosett a go – she has a couple of series of mysteries, and of course you mustn’t forget Frances Brody, Vaseem Khan and Julia Chapman. Or Julie Wassmer’s Whitstable Pearl series, now wonderfully adapted for TV and starring Kerry Godliman as Pearl.
Or you might try something a little less cozy – perhaps try Ann Cleeves, Abir Mukherjee, Robert Galbraith or Val McDermid to name some of my personal favourite authors.
Let me know how you get on! Who are your favourite mystery authors? Happy reading!