Five favorite mystery writers

I love mysteries–what about you?

Connect Five Friday is hosted by Kathryn at Book Date. (The hashtag is #connect5books) This is a fun and creative way to think about my books and reading. Check out Kathyrn’s blog and link up your Friday Five!

The five book-related items need to connect in some way, but each person who participates can decide for themselves what the book subject and connection is. For example, you could write about five books read last year or five books you want to read. It could even be favorite bookstores or five movies made from books.

This week I’m talking about mystery writers. These aren’t my only favorite mystery writers though these authors would all make a much longer favorite’s list. All these authors have written multiple books. I have read many of their books–sometimes all that they’ve written.

Two of these authors have died. I’ve included a sixth author since the daughter of Tony Hillerman has continued the series of books he’s famous for writing. I could have included Agatha Christie in this list since I’ve been reading her books since I was a teenager. I think she may have been the first mystery author I ever read. However, I wanted to write about authors you might not have heard of. I’ve also added four covers of their books to show a representative sample of their books.

Deborah Crombie

I discovered Deborah Crombie’s Duncan Kincaid & Gemma James mystery series about five years ago. I think I read at least 10 books in the series that first year!

This is a British police procedural series. I especially enjoy the relationship between Duncan and Gemma. The characters live in London, but several of the books take place in other parts of Great Britain. There are 18 books in the series so far and I’ve read them all!

Elly Griffiths

There are 12 books in this series so far. I’ve read 10 of them. I’m reading them slower now so I don’t run out too quickly. Elly Griffiths is writing more in this series–usually about one a year. I haven’t read the other series she writes yet so I do have that to look forward to.

The Ruth Galloway series is the series I’m reading and it’s practically a police procedural since Ruth is a forensic archaeologist and often assists the police. The books usually take place in the Norfolk area of England and the books contain bones–sometimes very old bones and sometimes bones that aren’t so old. Detective Chief Inspector Nelson is also a well-drawn character in these books. In fact, the books have so many interesting characters that I feel I know them. If I was introduced to any of them I would think of them as old friends!

Tony Hillerman & Anne Hillerman

I started reading these books when I was a teenager. I stopped reading mysteries for a while after 9/11 in 2001 so I’ve had a few I haven’t read. I have gone back and reread some of the books I read more than twenty years ago. Since Tony Hillerman wrote his first book (in the Joe Leaphorn series) in 1970 and I started reading them almost immediately I read the earliest books over 40 years ago!

The books take place in New Mexico and Arizona on the Navajo Indian Reservation. Joe Leaphorn is a lieutenant in the Navajo Tribal Police. Sgt. Jim Chee comes along later and for awhile Tony Hillerman wrote separate mysteries. Finally, he brought them together in book 7–Skinwalkers. Both characters are so good to read about and they both feel like old friends!

Ann Hillerman (Tony’s daughter) continued writing the series after Tony Hillerman died in 2008. Her first book Spider Woman’s Daughter was written in 2013 and she will publish the 24th book in the series (her sixth book) in April 2021. I skipped ahead in the series a couple years ago to read one of her books–Song of the Lion–to see if I liked her writing and I danced a happy dance!

Julia Spencer-Fleming

There are 9 books in this series so far. I love the setting of the books in upstate New York. The name of the town is evocative–Millers Kill.

The series main characters are Reverend Clare Ferguson who is an Episcopalian priest. Before she became a priest she was a soldier–a helicopter pilot–so she’s a nuanced character! Russ Van Alstyne is the Chief of Police in Millers Kill. The titles of the books come from the Episcopalian hymnal which I think is pretty awesome! I grew up Episcopalian so that drew me to these books. In several books I worried I wouldn’t continue with the series, but Julia Spencer-Fleming managed a long arc in this series with aplomb and grace. I also really like that she tackles difficult topics–addiction, PTSD and a Veteran’s support group, for example in One Was a Soldier.

Dick Francis

Dick Francis is another author I started reading as a teenager. Most of his books are stand-alone mysteries and all of them have something to do with horse racing. Dick Francis was a successful steeplechase jockey in Great Britain who began writing when he retired. He died in 2010, but his son Felix Francis is continuing to write books that have both their names on them. (I think Felix began writing with his dad before Dick Francis died.)

I love horses–and especially did as a teenager. His earliest books begin with jockeys and later on continue with main characters who aren’t jockeys and have more of a peripheral role in the horse racing world.

One of the other things I loved about reading Hillerman’s and Francis’s books is that my Mom also read them and we would talk about them. We were always so excited when we found out one of them had a new book out! I really miss talking about and sharing books since my Mom died in 2012.

Have you read any of these authors? Do you read mysteries? If you do, who are your favorite mystery writers?