The best mysteries with senior sleuths and older characters

Why am I passionate about this?

I am a doctor, an award-winning writer, and lifelong lover of mysteries. Many mysteries feature smart characters. I prefer those with wise characters, who can teach me something about a life well-lived. Or not. Sometimes the mistakes are more instructive and more fun. Stories with older characters offer a plethora of life experience and wisdom, and usually poignancy and humor as well. From my life as a doctor and my daily visits to my mother’s retirement community dinner table, I see seniors who are strong, wise, vital, and often overlooked. I love stories that give voice to this robust and rich generation who have so much to offer.


I wrote...

The Fog Ladies

By Susan McCormick,

Book cover of The Fog Ladies

What is my book about?

Spunky senior sleuths and an overtired, overstressed, under-suspicious young doctor-in-training live in an elegant apartment building in San Francisco where old ladies start to die. Mrs. Bridge falls off a stool cleaning bugs out of her kitchen light. Mrs. Talwin slips on bubbles in the bath and drowns. The Pacific Heights building is turning over tenants faster than the fog rolls in on a cool San Francisco evening. Is it murder? Will one of them be next? Filled with humor and poignancy only age can bring, “what makes this a must-read are the Fog Ladies themselves.” 

Shepherd is reader supported. When you buy books, we may earn an affiliate commission.

The books I picked & why

Book cover of The Thursday Murder Club

Susan McCormick Why did I love this book?

A first in a series, and each one enjoyable.

An idyllic senior living community brings four distinct souls together to ponder an old crime, resulting in mayhem and danger. The story twists and turns, with wise, witty dialogue and poignant musings, plus lessons in life and living.

My entire family read it, including a teen and early twenties son, and we all quoted lines to each other. Then we passed it to friends. A joy to read.

By Richard Osman,

Why should I read it?

21 authors picked The Thursday Murder Club as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

A New York Times bestseller | Soon to be a major motion picture from Steven Spielberg at Amblin Entertainment

"Witty, endearing and greatly entertaining." -Wall Street Journal

"Don't trust anyone, including the four septuagenarian sleuths in Osman's own laugh-out-loud whodunit." -Parade

Four septuagenarians with a few tricks up their sleeves
A female cop with her first big case
A brutal murder
Welcome to...
THE THURSDAY MURDER CLUB

In a peaceful retirement village, four unlikely friends meet weekly in the Jigsaw Room to discuss unsolved crimes; together they call themselves the Thursday Murder Club.

When a local developer is found dead…


Book cover of The Postscript Murders

Susan McCormick Why did I love this book?

This is Book 2 in a series but can easily be read alone.

It introduces several older characters, including the page one murder victim, each of whom is so well-sketched they could be your friend or neighbor. The story has an excellent murder, a twist, wonderful characters, and humor.

The best is that the unlikely sleuths are a mixture of old and young, male and female, many backgrounds, yet all best of friends and all very funny yet sometimes heartbreaking.

By Elly Griffiths,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

INVENTING CRIME STORIES CAN GET YOU KILLED

'A LOVE LETTER TO MURDER MYSTERIES' SUNDAY MIRROR

The ultimate gripping murder mystery to curl up with, from the bestselling author of The Stranger Diaries and the Dr Ruth Galloway Mysteries

The death of a ninety-year-old woman with a heart condition should absolutely not be suspicious. DS Harbinder Kaur certainly sees nothing to concern her in carer Natalka's account of Peggy Smith's death.

But when Natalka reveals that Peggy lied about her heart condition and that she had been sure someone was following her...

And that Peggy Smith had been a 'murder consultant'…


Book cover of The No. 1 Ladies' Detective Agency

Susan McCormick Why did I love this book?

Some might consider this cheating, as Mma Ramotswe’s age is not obvious as the books progress, but after 23 adventures, I will count her tending toward middle if not old age.

If she is not, the gentle mannerisms and thoughtful concerns of her and her husband, Mr. J.L.B. Matekoni, definitely put the books into this category of wise and poignant characters.

There may still be a mystery to each book, but these stories offer marriage advice, friendship advice, life advice in as joyful and tranquil a way possible.

By Alexander McCall Smith,

Why should I read it?

8 authors picked The No. 1 Ladies' Detective Agency as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Precious Ramotswe, a cheerful woman of traditional build, is the founder of Botswana's first and only ladies' detective agency. Here is a gentle interpretation of the detective role: solving her cases through her innate wisdom and understanding of human nature, she 'helps people with problems in their lives'. With a tone that is as elegant as that which is unfailingly used by his protagonist, Alexander McCall Smith tenderly unfolds a picture of life in Gaborone with a mastery of comic understatement and an evident sympathy for his subjects and their milieu. In the background of all this is Botswana, a…


Book cover of A Pocket Full of Rye

Susan McCormick Why did I love this book?

I love Miss Marple, as she is the iconic senior sleuth (though actually not that old) who is written off and underappreciated and unseen right up until she fingers the killer.

She solves the case, as always, and this mystery is quintessential Christie, with poison and family feuds and class inequities, and as usual, all the clues laid bare.

I had trouble choosing between my favorite Miss Marple books, The Mirror Crack’d, A Murder is Announced, A Moving Finger, A Body in the Library, and so many more.

By Agatha Christie,

Why should I read it?

2 authors picked A Pocket Full of Rye as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

A classic Marple mystery, superbly read by Joan Hickson. Available for the first time on audio.

Rex Fortescue, king of a financial empire, was sipping tea in his 'counting house' when he suffered an agonising and sudden death. On later inspection, the pockets of the deceased were found to contain traces of cereals.

Yet, it was the incident in the parlour which confirmed Jane Marple's suspicion that here she was looking at a case of crime by rhyme...


Book cover of Murder on Memory Lake

Susan McCormick Why did I love this book?

A widow with a new lease on life thanks to her secretly wealthy aunt becomes involved in a murder.

Multigenerational, with the Italian grandma, her newbie journalist granddaughter, plus an ex-nun sister and an ex-sister-in-law.

This story involves food, jokes, and family love, albeit with much more brashness and outspokenness than any of the other books I listed, and also a lot more Italian, though the book is set in New Jersey.

By J.D. Griffo,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Murder on Memory Lake as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

For Alberta Scaglione, her golden years are turning out much more differently than she expected—and much more deadly . . .
 
Alberta Scaglione’ s spinster aunt had some secrets—like the fortune she squirreled away and a secret lake house in Tranquility, New Jersey. More surprising: she’s left it all to Alberta. Alberta, a widow, is no spring chicken and she’s gotten used to disappointment. So having a beautiful view, surrounded by hydrangeas, honeysuckle, and her cat, Lola, sounds blissful after years of yelling and bickering and cooking countless lasagnas.
 
But Tranquility isn’t as peaceful as it sounds. There’s a body…


You might also like...

Split Decision

By David Perlmutter,

Book cover of Split Decision

David Perlmutter Author Of The Encyclopedia of American Animated Television Shows

New book alert!

Why am I passionate about this?

I am a freelance writer from Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada, specializing in media history and speculative fiction. I have been enchanted by animation since childhood and followed many series avidly through adulthood. My viewing inspired my MA thesis on the history of animation, out of which grew two books on the history and theory of animation on television, America 'Toons In: A History of Television Animation (available from McFarland and Co.) and The Encyclopedia of American Animated Television Shows (available from Rowman and Littlefield). Hopefully, others will follow.

David's book list on understanding the history of animation

What is my book about?

Jefferson Ball, the mightiest female dog in a universe of the same, is, despite her anti-heroic behavior, intent on keeping her legacy as an athlete and adventurer intact. So, when female teenage robot Jody Ryder inadvertently angers her by smashing her high school records, Jefferson is intent on proving her superiority by outmuscling the robot in a not-so-fair fight. Not wanting to seem like a coward, and eager to end her enemy's trash talking, Jody agrees.

However, they have been lured to fight each other by circumstances beyond their control. Which are intent on destroying them if they don't destroy each other in combat first...

5 book lists we think you will like!

Interested in murder, murder mystery, and family secrets?

10,000+ authors have recommended their favorite books and what they love about them. Browse their picks for the best books about murder, murder mystery, and family secrets.

Murder Explore 932 books about murder
Murder Mystery Explore 489 books about murder mystery
Family Secrets Explore 180 books about family secrets