summer reads

Summer Reading: Falling in Love with a New Mystery Series

If you’re an avid reader as I am, you’ll know several authors who write in series and you’re on the edge of your chair waiting for the next release. But maybe there is a wonderful author you haven’t yet found. It’s a bit like finding treasure. Here is a list of some of my favorite mystery writers and something about their heroes and heroines and the settings they write so well. My hope is that you’ll find a new author you’ll love, and enjoy every one of their offerings.

Louise Penny

Louise Penny is the contemporary Canadian author of The Inspector Gamache series set in Quebec. Her protagonist, Chief Inspector Armand Gamache, is head of homicide at the Surete of Quebec City. Gamache is a fifty-something man of honor who believes good eventually triumphs over evil, but is also tough as nails in times of trouble. Much of the action in Penny’s stories revolve around the fictional village of Three Pines where Gamache lives with his lovely wife and a handful of lovable, but eccentric characters including a quite crazy genius poetess who has a duck as a pet. Penny explores relationships in her novels and leaves the reader hopeful that there is much to live for and enjoy in this broken world.

Tony Hillerman

Tony Hillerman was an American author who died in 2008 having written eighteen novels about the Navajo Indians of the Southwest. He resided in Albuquerque, New Mexico and his books reflect his deep knowledge and understanding of the Navajo culture. His main characters are Joe Leaphorn, an older man nearly ready to retire from the Navajo Tribal Police. Joe is a modern Navajo who doesn’t believe in many of the tribal traditional ways, but is married to a woman who believes them entirely. Jim Chee is a younger police officer who is also a singer of the Blessed Way and who is caught between two worlds, the old and the new. The stories come alive with the beauty of the Navajo lands in Arizona and New Mexico and the reader is able to observe traditional native ways as the stories unfold.

Elizabeth George

Elizabeth George is an American novelist who writes mysteries set in Great Britain. She is most famous for her Thomas Lynley mysteries. Thomas, Earl of Asherton, and both Eton and 0xford educated works in homicide with his working class partner Detective Sergeant Barbara Havers. George has written twenty-one Lynley mysteries, several of which have been made into television dramas. George’s beautiful writing explores the life and loves of both main characters while they work to solve a never-ending series of homicides.

C.J. Box

Charles James Box is a mystery thriller writer most famous for his Joe Pickett series. Pickett is a Wyoming game warden, a family man who finds himself in the middle of clashing environmental issues and corruption on many levels. He loves the outdoors and the freedom his job affords him to live close to the land and to follow the frontier code of honor. The writing is action-packed, and the characters are believable.

William Kent Krueger

William Kent Krueger is a crime novelist living in St. Paul, Minnesota. His popular Cork O’Connor series is set in the north woods of Minnesota. O’Connor is an Irish/Anishinaabe mix and has strong connections with the Native Americans of the area. He is a former Chicago policeman and the former sheriff turned private investigator of Aurora, a town set near the boundary waters of the north. Cork is a family man, but also a protector of people. He grows and changes over the course of his novels and his family grows and changes as well. Krueger’s work is both beautiful and riveting. He has also written two stand alone novels: Ordinary Grace and This Tender Land.

Dorothy Sayers

Dorothy Sayers was an English crime writer and poet who lived from 1893 to 1957. She is most remembered for her Lord Peter Wimsey mysteries. Sayers attended Oxford University when women were allowed to attend, but were not awarded degrees. She uses Oxford as the setting for some of her works including the popular, Gaudy Night. Her supporting character, Harriet Vane, marries Wimsey and they work together to solve crimes. Sayers was a Christian apologist and friends with both C.S. Lewis and G. K. Chesterton. Her writing is clever and intricate. You’ll be sorry when you’ve read the last one.

Elizabeth Peters

Barbara Louise Mertz was an American author who wrote under the pseudonym Elizabeth Peters. She was born in 1927 and died in 2013. Her Amelia Peabody series drew on her own Ph.D. studies in Egyptology at the University of Chicago. Amelia Peabody is an Egyptologist during the peak of scientific explorations of the pyramids in the 1920’s where she and husband, Emerson, excavate the tombs of the gods. Her stories are a combination of mystery, romance and a huge dollop of wit and humor as well. Amelia and Emerson have a son, nicknamed Ramses and an ever-increasing circle of family and friends who live on the banks of the Nile and hobnob with the socialites of the day while they get down and dirty in the excavation of the tombs. Mertz was a prolific writer and also has a gothic series, the Vicky Bliss series and the Jacqueline Kirby series.

The best part of reading a series written by a top-notch writer is the character development and growth over time. Each of these writers brings the reader into the world of the story and by the end of the series you’re both devastated that there are no more books and also in love with the characters for all time.