If You Like….

Having grown up with PBS’s Mystery on Sunday nights, one of my particular pleasures is the British mystery. I’m not talking any of the more recent offshoots of the genre, the historical mystery, and so forth, but the standard, bread and butter fare: the Detective Chief Inspector or dedicated amateur who goes around solving a murder at a time, either via Scotland Yard or in a small town with the proper quirky cast of inhabitants. With, of course, the proper pause for tea.

If you like British mysteries, you’ll probably like:

— The classics of the genre: Agatha Christie’s Miss Marple and Poiot and Dorothy Sayers’s Lord Peter Wimsey (Gaudy Night is one of my all time favorites, although if you’re being responsible about it, you should probably start with Whose Body?);

— Georgette Heyer’s golden age mystery novels, such as Duplicate Death. We tend to think of her as the mother of the Regency romance, but in her day, she was just as well known for her mysteries;

— Josephine Tey’s Inspector Grant books. For years, I thought of Tey as merely the author of The Daughter of Time, the famous novel in which a bed-bound detective attempts to solve the conundrum of Richard III and the princes in the Tower (not that there’s anything mere about that). It turns out that Grant has a number of other more contemporary adventures in the course of his time at Scotland Yard, including A Shilling for Candles and The Man in the Queue;

— Sticking with Scotland Yard for the moment, it’s hard to ignore Elizabeth George’s magisterial Lynley series (starting with A Great Deliverance, which came out back in the late 80s, all the way up to, most recently, Believing the Lie, featuring an earl who has worked his way up in Scotland Yard and his prickly, working class partner, Barbara Havers;

— In the spirit of Lynley, Deborah Crombie’s Duncan Kincaid/Gemma James mysteries, starting with A Share in Death (these are a recently new find for me, so I still have the joy of reading my way through);

— P.D. James’s Adam Dalgliesh novels, of which the most famous is arguably The Murder Room;

— Caroline Graham’s Chief Inspector Barnaby books, starting with The Killings at Badger’s Drift, all set in the fictional county of Midsomer– which my fellow British television addicts will probably recognize as the ITV series Midsomer Murders.

What are your favorite “an inspector calls” British mysteries?


  1. Joanne M. on November 26, 2012 at 11:54 am

    I’ve just started Jacqueline Winspear’s Maisie Dobbs series, but it looks quite promising.

  2. Nessa on November 26, 2012 at 12:41 pm

    How about Dame Ngaio Marsh’s Roderic Alleyn and Margery Allingham’s Albert Campion mysteries ?

  3. Chartreuse on November 26, 2012 at 4:27 pm

    Ditto, Nessa. And we mustn’t forget Conan Doyle’s Sherlock Holmes.

  4. Pat on November 26, 2012 at 4:33 pm

    I really enjoy Martha Grimes’ Richard Jury series. Lots of humor and oddball characters, but serious murder investigations. These are more or less contemporary. For post Great War I like Charles Todd’s Ian Rutledge series. He is investigating murders and dealing with PTSD from the war. Same time period but not so much angst is Barbara Cleverly’s Joe Sandilands series. I always keep an eye out for new books from these authors.

  5. HJ on November 26, 2012 at 5:40 pm

    Josephine Tey’s other books are wonderful, well worth reading for their characters even without the very good mysteries. (My absolute favourite Tey, Brat Farrar, doesn’t involve a policeman though.)

    I support Nessa’s suggestion of Ngaio Marsh – if you’ve never read any, you’re in for a real treat, and there are lots of them! I wish Tey and Sayers had been a little more prolific…

  6. Kam on November 26, 2012 at 6:11 pm

    Carola Dunn’s Daisy Dalrymple books are fun lighthearted British mysteries set in the 1920’s. The main sleuths are Daisy and her love interest Detective Cheif Inspector Fletcher of Scotland Yard. My favourite so far is Damsel in Distress which unusually doesn’t involve a dead body!

  7. Kiernan on November 26, 2012 at 6:18 pm

    I’m re-reading all the Miss Silver’s by Patricia Wentworth. I think she surpasses Miss Marple.

  8. SusanN on November 26, 2012 at 7:06 pm

    A lot of these mysteries are on sale today at Amazon for Cyber Monday–Wentworth, Marsh, Tey, Sayers, Anne Perry, etc. Get ’em while they’re hot!

    I also like Peter Robinson (Banks) and Ian Rankin (Rebus), among others. Minette Walters is one of my favorite authors, but her books aren’t everyone’s cup of tea. (Even I have a love/hate relationship with her books.) Ruth Rendell (Wexford)–but I prefer her books under the Barbara Vine name, esp. Anna’s Book (aka Asta’s Book). And don’t forget Alan Bradley (Flavia de Luce). Love those books. Charles Finch (Lenox).

    So many good British mystery/crime writers!

  9. Am7 on November 27, 2012 at 4:32 pm

    I still love Agatha Christie!
    Duplicate Death contains many of the same characters as They Found Him Dead. I recommend readers read They Found Him Dead first then Duplicate Death!!!

  10. Rebecca on November 27, 2012 at 4:39 pm

    I love the Inspector Wilkins novels by James Anderson. They take place in a country house in the 1930s, where there’s always a murder each time the earl and countess hold a house party. James Anderson is even better than Agatha Christie.
    The books are:
    The Affair of the Bloodstained Egg Cozy
    The Affair of the Mutilated Mink
    The Affair of the 39 Cufflinks

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