The best classic mysteries ever written

Who am I?

I’ve always loved classic mystery fiction – why? Well, there’s always a “proper” story, where everyday life is plunged into chaos and then re-invented. There’s always a puzzle, of course, but in addition, there’s the characters and the settings. All the books I’ve recommended – and I could recommend so many more! – have a cracker of a story where emotion is fused with logic to give both an emotional and an intellectual treat.

I wrote...

The Chapel in the Woods

By Dolores Gordon-Smith,

Book cover of The Chapel in the Woods

What is my book about?

There’s something in the woods that shouldn’t be there…In 1620 William Cayden, privateer and pirate, brought home his wife, an Inca Princess, to Birchen Bower, Sussex. Ever since the unhappy princess is rumoured to have haunted the chapel and grounds in the form of a jaguar. In 1870 his descendant, Josiah Cayden, enthralled by the legend and in love with the Amazon, turned the estate into a jungle with monkeys, crocodiles – and jaguars.

In 1927 the ruined estate is bought by the wealthy Canadian Tom Jago – and the Jaguar Princess strikes again. But can a legend kill? That’s what Jack Haldean is determined to find out.

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The books I picked & why

Book cover of Murder on the Orient Express

Dolores Gordon-Smith Why did I love this book?

Murder on the Orient Express is an absolute classic of mystery fiction. Filmed many times, none of the films capture the tension of the book. Based on a real-life experience of Agatha Christie’s and the shocking true crime of the Lindberg baby kidnap, this is the book to read as a perfect introduction to one of the best mystery authors of all time. You’ve probably seen Agatha Christie on film or TV but if you’ve never read one of her books – start here!

By Agatha Christie,

Why should I read it?

12 authors picked Murder on the Orient Express as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?


“The murderer is with us—on the train now . . .”

Just after midnight, the famous Orient Express is stopped in its tracks by a snowdrift. By morning, the millionaire Samuel Edward Ratchett lies dead in his compartment, stabbed a dozen times, his door locked from the inside. Without a shred of doubt, one of his fellow passengers is the murderer.

Isolated by the storm, detective Hercule Poirot must find the killer among a dozen of the dead man’s…

Book cover of The Moonstone

Dolores Gordon-Smith Why did I love this book?

Published in 1868, The Moonstone is a terrific story of stolen Indian jewels, fraud, murder, and true love that cracks along at a pace that belies its age. Rachel Verrinder should have inherited the Moonstone from her wicked uncle for her 18th birthday but the fabulous diamond is stolen. Rachel seems to fight any attempt to recover the diamond and, in the process, spurns Franklin Blake, who she loved. But why? If you’re wary of Victorian fiction, start here – you’ll love it!

By Wilkie Collins,

Why should I read it?

2 authors picked The Moonstone as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Who, in the name of wonder, had taken the Moonstone out of Miss Rachel's drawer?

A celebrated Indian yellow diamond is first stolen from India, then vanishes from a Yorkshire country house. Who took it? And where is it now? A dramatist as well as a novelist, Wilkie Collins gives to each of his narratorsa household servant, a detective, a lawyer, a cloth-eared Evangelical, a dying medical manvibrant identities as they separately tell the part of the story that concerns themselves.

One of the great triumphs of nineteenth-century sensation fiction, The Moonstone tells of a mystery that for page after…

Book cover of Warrant For X

Dolores Gordon-Smith Why did I love this book?

Philip MacDonald fought in WW1 before becoming one of the most popular mystery writers of the 1920s and 1930s. Sheldon Garret, the successful American playwright, goes into a London tea shop and overhears two women plotting to kidnap a child and – maybe – murder. Sheldon turns to Anthony Gethryn and with the slender clue of an abandoned shopping list to guide him, Anthony must try to prevent a ruthless crime. Kidnap, murder and blackmail form the spine of this, one of MacDonald’s best novels as Anthony Gethryn races to prevent yet more deaths.

By Philip MacDonald,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Warrant For X as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

A brief shopping list is the only clue Anthony Gethryn has to help Sheldon Garrett, an American dramatist, find the two women he accidently overheard plotting a crime

Book cover of The Thirty-Nine Steps

Dolores Gordon-Smith Why did I love this book?

Written at the start of the First World War, when victory was very much in doubt, this cracker of a thriller sees Richard Hannay evade both crooks and cops in a chase across Scotland to preserve the secret of a murdered man. If he loses, the war might be lost – the stakes are that high. Hannay’s ingenuity is pushed to the utmost as the hunted fugitive. Buchan’s love of Scotland shines through, a terrific background to an unputdownable thriller. Filmed many times, the book has a tension and a pace that has never been really captured on screen.

By John Buchan,

Why should I read it?

3 authors picked The Thirty-Nine Steps as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Richard Hannay has just returned to England after years in South Africa and is thoroughly bored with his life in London. But then a murder is committed in his flat, just days after a chance encounter with an American who had told him about an assassination plot which could have dire international consequences. An obvious suspect for the police and an easy target for the killers, Hannay goes on the run in his native Scotland where he will need all his courage and ingenuity to stay one step ahead of his pursuers.

Book cover of Murder Must Advertise

Dolores Gordon-Smith Why did I love this book?

Before becoming a world-renowned author, Dorothy L Sayers worked in an advertising agency and it’s Pimm’s Publicity that’s the fascinating background for Lord Peter Wimsey to discover who’s behind death, drugs, and debauchery. Peter has to join Pimm’s Publicity but it seems incredible that the chatty, humdrum world of the office should hide a killer, let alone an illicit drug distribution network.

Dorothy L. Sayers’s writing is some of the very best of the “Golden Age” of classic mysteries and this is a story you won’t forget.

By Dorothy L. Sayers,

Why should I read it?

3 authors picked Murder Must Advertise as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

'Think MadMen in prewar London' The Guardian

The tenth book in Dorothy L Sayers' classic Lord Peter Wimsey series, introduced by bestselling crime writer Peter Robinson - a must-read for fans of Agatha Christie's Poirot and Margery Allingham's Campion Mysteries.

Victor Dean fell to his death on the stairs of Pym's Advertising Agency, but no one seems to be sorry. Until an inquisitive new copywriter joins the firm and asks some awkward questions...

Disguised as his disreputable cousin Death Bredon, Lord Peter Wimsey takes a job - one that soon draws him into a vicious network of blackmailers and drug…

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Deep Roots

By Sung J. Woo,

Book cover of Deep Roots

Sung J. Woo Author Of Deep Roots

New book alert!

Who am I?

Author Novelist Tennis fan Cinephile Gamer

Sung's 3 favorite reads in 2023

What is my book about?

After solving her first case, private eye Siobhan O’Brien is hired by Phillip Ahn, an octogenarian billionaire with his own personal island in the Pacific Northwest. Ahn, a genius in artificial intelligence, swears that Duke, his youngest child and only son, is an impostor. Is Ahn crazy, or is Duke really someone else? As Siobhan attempts to arrive at the truth, her biggest challenge will be dealing with Ahn’s family, who all live under the same gilded roof: his current wife, his two ex-wives, and their awful, privileged children.

What is the real reason that Siobhan was brought to this isolated estate? If she can keep her head – literally and figuratively – she’ll learn that family secrets have some very deep roots.

Deep Roots

By Sung J. Woo,

What is this book about?

After solving her first case, Siobhan O’Brien faces her biggest challenge yet – Thanksgiving!  With her lawyer boyfriend Craig in tow, Siobhan travels to Minneapolis to endure small talk with the extended O’Brien clan and chow down on some seriously delicious turkey and dressing.  Everything’s swell until her sister-in-law Gwen tells her about her brother Sven's frequent late-night meetings with his co-workers.  Since Siobhan’s next case is just a ferry ride from their house in Washington state, she asks for Siobhan’s help.
Big sister is happy to oblige, though she’s got her hands full.  Hired by Phillip Ahn, a Korean…

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