My favorite mystery authors


Top Ten Tuesday is a weekly meme I take part in when I can think up answers! It’s a great meme hosted by The Broke and the Bookish blog. Every week a new topic is presented. It’s not only fun to think about my list, but to read what other people come up with!

This week we have a FREEBIE. We get to choose what we write about. Since I’m reading more mysteries I decided to post about my favorite mystery writers. I decided to split my list into the long-time favorites and my more recent favorites. I read lots of mysteries long ago and my long-time favorites are the ones I remember from those days.

Some of my favorites by these authors:

My long-time favorites:

1. Agatha Christie–I think she is the first adult mystery writer I read. (I had read Nancy Drew and the Hardy Boys). I love her books especially the ones with Hercule Poirot.

2. Dick Francis–I can’t remember if I read Dick Francis first or if my Mom did. All I know is we both loved his mysteries about horse racing. He was a former steeplechase jockey so he knew all about racing. All of his books include racing in some way.

3. S. J. Rozan–I know I introduced my Mom to Ms. Rozan. These mysteries take place in New York City and feature two private detectives–Lydia Chin and Bill Smith. The books are unique in my experience because one book will focus on Bill Smith as the lead detective. The next book concentrates on Lydia. I really enjoy the way the author does this and I also love to read about Lydia’s mother who only speaks Chinese and has five or six locks on her apartment door!

4. Tony Hillerman–I love the books about Jim Chee and Joe Leaphorn and the Navaho Indians. The later books Hillerman wrote often have both protagonists in the same book and it’s an interesting dichotomy. Jim Chee is a policeman, but he’s also a traditional Navajo and is studying to be a Navajo healer. Joe Leaphorn, however, is older, a modern Navajo and jaded policeman.

All the above authors are ones my Mom and I read and discussed. That’s one of my favorite memories–writing letters and talking about the books we were reading or talking on the phone about them. We used to share books. It was wonderful!

Christie, Francis and Hillerman have all died. S. J. Rozan is still writing. For several years she didn’t write any Chin and Smith mysteries, but did write another in 2009 which I still need to read.

More recent favorites (though I haven’t kept up with all these authors in the past several years):

5. Julia Spencer-Fleming–Writes The Rev. Clare Fergusson & Russ Van Alstyne Mystery series. So far there are eight books in this series and I’ve read them all. I like the relationship between the main characters though there are times in the books I question it. However, the mysteries are excellent.

6. Margaret Maron–I read Margaret Maron’s Sigrid Harald book series and then discovered her Deborah Knott series. Deborah Knott is a judge and daughter of a bootlegger in North Carolina.

7. Laurie R. King–She writes the Mary Russell and Sherlock Holmes series which most of my family reads. The books I read first by Ms. King were her Kate Martinelli series which is a contemporary mystery series set in San Francisco. Then she started writing her historical Russell and Holmes mystery series!

8. Victoria Thompson–Writes a historical mystery series–the Gaslight Mystery series–which takes place in New York City around 1900 about a midwife.

9. Alan Bradley–Another historical mystery series–the Flavia de Luce series–takes place in 1950 with a young girl as the protagonist. The first book The Sweetness at the Bottom of the Pie is a delight to read and Bradley has written a total of seven of these mysteries now.

10. Deborah Crombie–Some of you may have noticed my glom of the Gemma James & Duncan Kincaid series. Since last fall I’ve read the first 10 of her mysteries. These books brought me back to reading mysteries again.

Honorable Mentions–These authors aren’t exactly mystery writers, but they influenced my reading. I read them during my teen years:

Victoria Holt–wrote gothic romance (Bride of Pendorric, for example)

Elizabeth Peters–wrote books with some mystery and some romance and often about archaeology or history. Her most famous are the Amelia Peabody series which mostly take place in Egypt, but I like her Vicky Bliss and Jacqueline Kirby series best.

Mary Stewart–I think Ms. Stewart’s books would be considered middle grade books (The Moonspinners, for example).

As I look at my favorite mystery writers I realize I don’t like violent and graphic mysteries. I’ve always liked police procedurals. And I like mysteries which have a relationship between characters whether it’s a friendship or a romance, but I don’t want that to be the focus of the story.

Do you like mysteries? Who are your favorite writers?