The best mysteries with quirky, fascinating detectives from around the world

Who am I?

Some people read mysteries to figure out who did it. Not me. I read mysteries (several a week) because they are full of contradictions, lies and truths, and humans making hard and sometimes stupid decisions. I lean toward mysteries that are literary in writing quality with quirky, complicated characters; a good sense of humor; and diverse settings. In my cozy Minnesota mystery series featuring Maya Skye, I am interested in the contradiction of a yoga teacher who is dedicated to seeking inner peace and yet drawn to mayhem. As Maya says, “We may try to follow the path, but life isn’t all Minnesota nice.” 

I wrote...

Down Dog Diary

By Sherry Roberts,

Book cover of Down Dog Diary

What is my book about?

Maya Skye inherits a diary filled with mysterious secrets and startling scents that change with the turn of the page. Someone has killed her mentor, a former Hell’s Angel turned shaman, for the book and now they are coming after her. But they will find this yoga teacher isn’t afraid to fight—when it comes to finding justice for her old friend and protecting the Down Dog Diary.

Set in small Gabriel’s Garden, Minnesota, this is a cozy mystery told with humor, drama, and a cast of quirky characters. It’s a Midwest Book Awards Finalist and a Library Journal Indie Author Project Select Title. Other books in the series: Warrior’s Revenge and Crow Calling.

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The books I picked & why

Book cover of A Drink Before the War

Sherry Roberts Why did I love this book?

In my very first mystery writing class, the instructor assigned A Drink Before the War by Dennis Lehane. She said it was to show that mysteries are more than whodunits. They can be literary, filled with compelling characters, action, humor, and, above all, wonderful writing. And that is why I have devoured every Lehane book featuring Boston private investigators Patrick Kenzie and Angela Gennaro. They provide all that and more. You see, Kenzie and Gennaro live by a code that compels them to do what is right, even when it will get them into terrible trouble. I am intensely attracted to heroes with principles, and I melt at a well-turned phrase. 

By Dennis Lehane,

Why should I read it?

3 authors picked A Drink Before the War as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Patrick Kenzie and Angela Gennaro are tough private investigators who know the blue-collar neighbourhoods and ghettos of Boston's Dorchester section as only natives can. Working out of an old church belfry, Kenzie and Gennaro take on a seemingly simple assignment for a prominent politician: to uncover the whereabouts of Jenna Angeline, a black cleaning woman who has allegedly stolen confidential Statehouse documents.
But finding Jenna proves easy compared to staying alive. The investigation escalates, uncovering a web of corruption extending from bombed-out ghetto streets to the highest levels of state government.

With slick, hip dialogue and a lyrical narrative pocked…

Book cover of Bryant & May Off the Rails

Sherry Roberts Why did I love this book?

I have never been to London, but Christopher Fowler makes me want to book a plane ticket. His immense collection of mysteries (18 so far) features adorable curmudgeon Arthur Bryant and his partner, John May, an elderly Lothario. These quirky detectives are the heartbeat of the even quirkier Peculiar Crimes Unit (yes, that’s its real name). I am a big fan of teams in mystery solving—not just because they all help out solving the puzzle but because of the emotions and relationships that become entangled among team members. Fowler delivers fascinating British history, smart humor, and delightful writing. Guilty secret: I would love to reach into Arthur Bryant’s big old coat pockets; they always contain the most outlandish things (many essential to solving the crime, of course).

By Christopher Fowler,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Bryant & May Off the Rails as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

They've been given just one week to find a killer they'd caught once before . . .
Arthur Bryant, John May and the Peculiar Crimes Unit are on the trail of an enigma: a young man called Mr Fox. But his identity is false, his links to society are invisible and his home yields no clues. All they know is that somehow he escaped from a locked room and murdered one of their best and brightest.
Now the detectives are being lured down into the darkest recesses of the London Underground where their quarry, expertly disguised, has struck again. Their…

Book cover of The Keeper of Lost Causes: The First Department Q Novel

Sherry Roberts Why did I love this book?

My favorite Danish mystery writer is Jussi Adler-Olsen, author of the incomparable Department Q novels. Department Q is where Copenhagen’s cold cases live, and it is wonderfully weird Detective Carl Morck’s job to thaw them out. He has help: a fascinating sidekick named Assad, a Syrian immigrant with a backpack of mysterious skills and a hidden past. I would call these books Scandinavian lite or Nordic noir because they are fun. I love grumpy sleuths with soft hearts, sidekicks that end up saving their bosses in crazy ways, and plots that are never what they seem.

By Jussi Adler-Olsen,

Why should I read it?

3 authors picked The Keeper of Lost Causes as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Get to know the detective in charge of Copenhagen's coldest cases in the first electrifying Department Q mystery from New York Times bestselling author Jussi Adler-Olsen.

Carl Morck used to be one of Denmark's best homicide detectives. Then a hail of bullets destroyed the lives of two fellow cops, and Carl-who didn't draw his weapon-blames himself. So a promotion is the last thing he expects. But Department Q is a department of one, and Carl's got only a stack of cold cases for company. His colleagues snicker, but Carl may have the last laugh, because one file keeps nagging at…

Book cover of The Dante Connection

Sherry Roberts Why did I love this book?

Estelle Ryan writes mysteries set in France with a most unusual sleuth: autistic insurance investigator Dr. Genevieve Lenard. I am fascinated by how Lenard, a world-renowned expert on nonverbal communication, navigates both her personal and professional lives as she tracks down art thieves. She is a human lie detector who can’t bear to be touched and who, when upset, goes into autistic meltdowns in which she writes classical music in her head. I go to Ryan’s website to see the artwork and listen to the music featured in each book. Lenard also has a quirky team of sidekicks that I adore and that bring humanity to Lenard’s sheltered life: a former art thief, a hacker, a cop, and a tough guy.

By Estelle Ryan,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

Art theft. Coded messages. A high-level threat.

Despite her initial disbelief, Doctor Genevieve Lenard discovers that she is the key that connects stolen works of art, ciphers and sinister threats.

Betrayed by the people who called themselves her friends, Genevieve throws herself into her insurance investigation job with autistic single-mindedness. When hacker Francine appears beaten and bloodied on her doorstep, begging for her help, Genevieve is forced to get past the hurt of her friends’ abandonment and team up with them to find the perpetrators.

Little does she know that it will take her on a journey through not one,…

Book cover of The Golden One

Sherry Roberts Why did I love this book?

Who doesn’t love a couple who bicker one moment and save each other’s lives the next? That defines married archeologists Amelia Peabody and Radcliffe Emerson, who fight off graverobbers and murderers while excavating the great tombs of Egypt in 1917. Amelia, who tells this story with wit and panache, is my kind of gal—she fights off villains with her ever-present sturdy umbrella. Dashing Radcliffe is devoted to her and exasperated by her antics. As the series has grown, so has the family. I adore the introduction of their son, Ramses, who is as brilliant, daring, and foolhardy as his parents.  

By Elizabeth Peters,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

At the start of this fourteenth adventure for Amelia, which continues the wartime theme begun in Lord of the Silent, it is New Year's Eve, 1917.

Risking winter storms and German torpedoes, the Emersons are heading for Egypt once again: Amelia, Emerson, their son Ramses and his wife Nefret. Emerson is counting on a long season of excavation without distractions but this proves to be a forlorn hope. Yet again they unearth a dead body in a looted tomb - not a mummified one though, this one is only too fresh, and it leads the clan on a search for…

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Trouble in Queenstown

By Delia Pitts,

Book cover of Trouble in Queenstown

Delia Pitts

New book alert!

What is my book about?

Vandy Myrick became a cop to fulfill her father’s expectations. After her world cratered, she became a private investigator to satisfy her own desires. Now she’s back in Queenstown, New Jersey, her childhood home, in search of solace and recovery.

Soon after her return, Vandy takes on a divorce case for the mayor’s nephew, Leo Hannah. At first the surveillance job seems routine, but Vandy soon realizes there’s trouble beneath the surface when a racially-charged murder with connections to the Hannah family rocks Q-town. She’s a minor league PI with few friends and no resources. But Vandy has a determination few possess — she’ll stop at nothing to solve this case.

Trouble in Queenstown

By Delia Pitts,

What is this book about?

With Trouble in Queenstown, Delia Pitts introduces private investigator Vandy Myrick in a powerful mystery that blends grief, class, race, and family with thrilling results.

Evander “Vandy” Myrick became a cop to fulfill her father’s expectations. After her world cratered, she became a private eye to satisfy her own. Now she's back in Queenstown, New Jersey, her childhood home, in search of solace and recovery. It's a small community of nine thousand souls crammed into twelve square miles, fenced by cornfields, warehouses, pharma labs, and tract housing. As a Black woman, privacy is hard to come by in "Q-Town," and…

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