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...

Adam's Witness

By Joanne Paulson,

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.

The books I picked & why

Shepherd is reader supported. We may earn an affiliate commission when you buy through links on our website. This is how we fund this project for readers and authors (learn more).

Busman's Honeymoon

By Dorothy L. Sayers,

Book cover of Busman's Honeymoon

Why 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.

A Fatal Grace: A Chief Inspector Gamache Novel

By Louise Penny,

Book cover of A Fatal Grace: A Chief Inspector Gamache Novel

Why 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.

The Man with a Load of Mischief (A Richard Jury Mystery)

By Martha Grimes,

Book cover of The Man with a Load of Mischief (A Richard Jury Mystery)

Why 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. 

Murder at the Mendel

By Gail Bowen,

Book cover of Murder at the Mendel

Why 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.

The Murder Room: An Adam Dalgliesh Mystery

By P. D. James,

Book cover of The Murder Room: An Adam Dalgliesh Mystery

Why 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.

5 book lists we think you will like!

Interested in police, murders, and private investigators?

5,810 authors have recommended their favorite books and what they love about them. Browse their picks for the best books about police, murders, and private investigators.

Police Explore 106 books about police
Murders Explore 334 books about murders
Private Investigators Explore 121 books about private investigators

And, 3 books we think you will enjoy!

We think you will like A Foreign Affair, Some Danger Involved, and The Sweetness at the Bottom of the Pie if you like this list.