The best mystery books in which you really want to hug the detective

Who am I?

I have been reading mysteries since childhood. You know the sort of thing: Trixie Belden, Nancy Drew, Enid Blyton books, The Bobbsey Twins. The desire to profoundly understand the battles of good versus evil, the delicious gathering of clues, and the hope of solving the cases never left me. As I grew, I began to read the adult-themed greats, and dominantly the women of crime fiction. I couldn't possibly count the number of mysteries I have read. Then, seven years ago, I was violently moved to write them as well. My “real” job as a journalist was little different. In a way, every story, every interview subject, has been a little mystery to unravel. 


I wrote...

Book cover of Adam's Witness

What is my book about?

When newspaper reporter Grace Rampling learns that a gay choir has been kicked out of its venue — the Catholic cathedral — she decides to confront church officials. But she gets more than she bargained for when she literally stumbles over the corpse of a high-ranking cleric. Minutes later, Detective Sergeant Adam Davis strides into the church to take on the investigation...and sees Grace with her wild auburn hair rising from between the pews.

She is his primary witness and a potential suspect in the case. Grace is therefore legally off-limits, forcing Adam to fight a fierce attraction even as he races to unwind a potential hate crime and high-profile murder.

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The books I picked & why

Book cover of Busman's Honeymoon

J.C. Paulson Why did I love this book?

Inside the cover of this precious gift was scrawled: “To Jo. For who, besides Harriet, deserves Peter Wimsey?”

Who indeed. Lord Peter might be a bit of a toff to some; but his brilliance, his turn of phrase, his PTSD, and above all his passion for Harriet Vane reaches my heart and stirs my imagination. It is difficult to choose a favourite Sayers novel — indeed, Gaudy Night may take the gold — but when Peter finally finds himself in Harriet’s arms, all is right with the world.

By Dorothy L. Sayers,

Why should I read it?

2 authors picked Busman's Honeymoon as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

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

They plan to have a quiet country honeymoon. Then Lord Peter Wimsey and his bride Harriet Vane find the previous owner's body in the cellar.

Set in a country village seething with secrets and snobbery, this is Dorothy L. Sayers' last full-length detective novel. Variously described as a love story with detective interruptions and a detective story with romantic interruptions, it lives up to both descriptions with style.…


Book cover of A Fatal Grace

J.C. Paulson Why did I love this book?

All of Louise Penny’s Armand Gamache novels are marvelous. In this one, however, there is a scene where the great detective regards his wife, Reine-Marie, as they sit together in their living room. And he thinks he has had a great deal of luck in his life, but none more so than being married to this woman for thirty-five years. He adores her, and it shows in every interaction. He is very tough, very intelligent, and takes enormous risks; but he is always kind to the people he loves. But God help the villains. As it should be.

By Louise Penny,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

Winner of the 2007 Agatha Award for Best Novel!

From the Dagger award winning author Louise Penny comes the second Armand Gamache mystery set in the stunning countryside of Quebec.

Welcome to winter in Three Pines, a picturesque village in Quebec, where the villagers are preparing for a traditional country Christmas, and someone is preparing for murder.

No one liked CC de Poitiers. Not her quiet husband, not her spineless lover, not her pathetic daughter―and certainly none of the residents of Three Pines. CC de Poitiers managed to alienate everyone, right up until the moment of her death.

When Chief…


Book cover of The Man with a Load of Mischief

J.C. Paulson Why did I love this book?

The first in Martha Grimes’ pub-named series introduces not one but two detectives: Richard Jury meets Melrose Plant while investigating a case in the wonderfully-named Long Piddleton. It becomes clear from the beginning that these two clever gentlemen, the Scotland Yard detective and Lord of the Realm, are as well-matched as they are handsome. Their backstories make one want to hug them tightly, as do their not-wonderful luck with women. A diverse and frequently annoying cast of cozy characters adds to one’s sympathy for their dual lot. 

By Martha Grimes,

Why should I read it?

3 authors picked The Man with a Load of Mischief as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

At the Man with a Load of Mischief, they found the dead body stuck in a keg of beer. At the Jack and Hammer, another body was stuck out on the beam of the pub’s sign, replacing the mechanical man who kept the time. Two pubs. Two murders. One Scotland Yard inspector called in to help. Detective Chief Inspector Richard Jury arrives in Long Piddleton and finds everyone in the postcard village looking outside of town for the killer. Except for one Melrose Plant. A keen observer of human nature, he points Jury in the right direction: into the darkest…


Book cover of Murder at the Mendel

J.C. Paulson Why did I love this book?

To begin with, I was immediately drawn to this novel because (bless the author) it is located in my own hometown. For those in New York or Paris, this may not be a big deal; but if you live in a relatively small Canadian city, that’s quite exciting. The main character, Joanne Kilbourn, was also named for me. And yes, I have thanked Gail Bowen for this gift. 

All right, that’s not actually true, but one can dream. Joanne is a strong but gentle cozy detective with intense motherly instincts and an extremely sharp mind. I adore her.

By Gail Bowen,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Murder at the Mendel as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

As a child Joanne was friends with Sally Love and her parents, but the friendship languished after Sally’s father died and she moved away, eventually becoming a very controversial artist. When the Mendel Gallery opens an exhibition of Sally’s work, Joanne is eager to attend and to renew their friendship. But it’s not so easy being Sally’s friend anymore, and soon Joanne finds herself ensnared in a web of intrigue and violence. When the director of a local private gallery is brutally murdered, Joanne finds that the past she and Sally share was far more complicated, and far more sordid,…


Book cover of The Murder Room

J.C. Paulson Why did I love this book?

It is hard to resist a detective who is also a poet. Such wordy pursuits, mingled with crime detection, loudly declare sensitivity and left-brain-right-brain involvement, a perfect combination in the elegant, exceedingly attractive Adam Dalgliesh. (My own detective is named, in part, after him.)

All the Dalgliesh mysteries are marvelous. However, in The Murder Room, the detective’s new relationship with Emma Lavenham comes to a critical point. As the description says, “as he moves closer and closer to a solution to the puzzle, he finds himself driven further and further from commitment to the woman he loves.” The poor dear.

By P. D. James,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

Now a major Channel 5 series

'The Queen of Crime.' New York Times

Commander Adam Dalgliesh is already acquainted with the Dupayne Museum in Hampstead, and with its sinister murder room celebrating notorious crimes committed in the interwar years, when he is called to investigate the killing of one of the trustees. He soon discovers that the victim was seeking to close the museum against the wishes of both staff and fellow trustees. Everyone, it seems, has something to gain from the crime.

When it becomes clear that the killer is prepared to kill again, inspired by the real-life crimes…


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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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