The joy of reading mystery novels

by Raewyn Whyte

(updated occasionally)

When I have spare time, I love to read mystery novels — or really,  to immerse myself in the worlds they offer.

I have a preference for noirish mysteries, police procedurals, and female protagonists. I tend to read each  series from start to end, and have for the several years been exploring Tartan noir (mysteries by Scots writers) and Scandinavian noir (mysteries by Scandanavian writers). I am also reading New Zealand and Australian writers, who are very much under-represented in the reviews of mystery novels on sites such as Booklover, plus other writers from anywhere who I read about or somehow discover..

For the record, here are some of the writers whose series I have been following over the past year:

Scandinavian noir:

  • Viveca Sten – Swedish writer – the Sandhamn mysteries. So far only 2 of 7 available in translation to English (Still Waters and Closed Circles)  – I so wish the others would become available.
  • Leena Lehtolainen – two different series: the Mario Kallio Series ( 4 books so far, book 5 due out soon) ; and The Bodyguard Trilogy – book 3 recently published (May 2016)
  • Camilla Lackberg – Patrick Hedstrom and Erika Falck series  – 9 books so far, most recently The Ice Child
  • Liza Marklund – investigative journalist Annika Bengtson  series  –  #11 The Final Word (published in June 2016) completes this series by  tieing off dangling threads  from earlier books in a satisfactory manner. I have the feeling the police researcher Nina Hoffman will emerge as protagonist of a new series…
  • Mari Jungstedt – selected titles across several series

A good place to look for more information —

Tartan noir

  • Caro Ramsay – Scots writer- the DCI Anderson and DS Costello series – 6 published to date. most recently The Tears of Angels
  • Lin Anderson  – the forensic pathologist Rhona MacLeod series, most recently The Special Dead (2015)
  • Ann Cleeves – books in the Shetland series
  • Denise Mina – the Alex Morrow series
  • Ian Rankin – the John Rebus series
  • Peter May – several series plus standalones
  • B A Steadman – Scots writer – 2 so far in the Detective Hellier series
  • Harry Bingham – DC Fiona Griffiths crime series – 5 books to date – #6 due in 2017
  • Sarah Hillary – the DI Marnie Rome series
  • MJ Arlidge  – the DI Helen Grace series
  • Andrea Sokoloff – The Huntress/FBI trilogy

Other UK mystery writers

  • Val McDermid – Tony Hill and Carol Jordan series – most recently Splinter the Dead (2015)
  • GK Parks – the Alexis Parker series (personal bodyguard) –
  • Deborah Crombie – James/Kincaid series
  • Linda La Plante – Anna Travis series – waiting for book 10
  • Tana French – the Dublin Murder Squad series

New Zealand and Australian writers

  • Trish McCormack – three books set in the South Island comprise a trilogy set at Franz Joseph glacier and in nearby Westland
  • Vanessa Skye (Australian writer, series set in Chicago) – The  Edge of Darkness trilogy
  • I have yet to read books by Jane Needham and Paddy Richardson — see more at
  • for news about new Australian crime writing visit

Chinese writers

  • Qui Xiaolong – book 9 in the Beijing-based Inspector Chen was recently published – Shanghai Redemption

American writers

  • Dana Stabenow – while awaiting the continuation of her two Alaska series, have read most recently book 3 of the Silk & Song series, The Land Beyond
  • Faye Kellerman – Peter Decker and Rina  Lazarus series – most recently The Theory of Death
  • Linda Fairstein – the sex crimes DA Alexandra Cooper series – most recently Devil’s Bridge (2015)
  • Toby Neal – Hawai’ian writer – the Lei Texiera series  which recently published book 12 Bitter Feast  more-or-less brought to an end, though she is also writing a series of spin-offs for companion character Sophie Ang of which book 1 has just been released.
  • Marcia Muller – the Sharon McCone series is still going strong
  • Alafair Burke – the Elle Hatcher series
  • Alison Brennan – the Lucy Kincaid series
  • Connie Shelton – the Samantha Sweet series of “cosy” mysteries, and the Charlie Parker “cosy” mysteries
  • Katherine V Forrest – have started reading a series from the 1960s

and some very mainstream series:

  • J D Robb – the “in Death ” series – somewhat uneven quality
  • Janet Evanovich – the Stephanie Plum bounty hunter (chicklit) series  – which has steadily become more and more formulaic and dull.
  • James Paterson – the Women’s Murder Club series – co-written, very uneven quality

Other genres

  • Neal Stephenson – Seveneves
  • Ben H Winter – The Last Policeman trilogy

NB recent article in the Atlantic in praise of women crime writers is worth a read also:


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