The best books to get your Sherlock Holmes fix

Who am I?

I think the lure of the detective novel lies in our human instinct to problem solve. There’s something satisfying about following a smart, observant, and even flawed character as they solve a crime. We’re working through a complicated puzzle, deciphering clues and theorizing, alongside the detective. Personally, I love detective novels set in richly drawn historical settings. I grew up addicted to Edgar Allan Poe and Sherlock Holmes stories. I remember reading The Moonstone by Wilkie Collins in a few days because I couldn’t put it down. The following books are a must-have for any Sherlock Holmes fans.

I wrote...

Ripper (A Ripper Novel)

By Amy Carol Reeves,

Book cover of Ripper (A Ripper Novel)

What is my book about?

It’s 1888, and after her mother’s sudden death, Abbie is sent to live with her grandmother in a posh London neighborhood. When she begins volunteering at Whitechapel Hospital, Abbie finds she has a passion for helping the abused and sickly women there. But within days, patients begin turning up murdered at the hands of Jack the Ripper. As more women are murdered, Abbie realizes that she and the Ripper share a strange connection: she has visions showing the Ripper luring his future victims to their deaths—moments before he turns his knife upon them. Her desperation to stop the massacres leads Abbie on a perilous hunt for the killer. And her search leads to a mysterious brotherhood whose link to the Ripper threatens not just London but all of mankind.

The books I picked & why

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By William Ritter,

Book cover of Jackaby

Why this book?

This book has all my favorite detective fiction elements: a beautiful cover, an independent heroine, Abigail Rook, crime-solving alongside an elusive detective, R.F. Jackaby, and a solid plot that kept me guessing until the end. Set in late nineteenth-century New England, Rook teams up with Jackaby in a parallel to a Watson-Holmes relationship except this detective novel features the supernatural. Rook learns quickly that Jackaby stands out among detectives as he can see supernatural creatures. I love so much about this book, particularly the chemistry between Rook and Jackaby as co-investigators. This is a must-read not only for detective fiction fans, but for Dr. Who and Buffy the Vampire Slayer fans as well.  

The Name of the Rose

By Umberto Eco,

Book cover of The Name of the Rose

Why this book?

The Name of the Rose is one of the cleverest detective novels I’ve read. Set in the Middle Ages, this story follows Brother William and his Benedictine novice, Adso, as they follow up on heresy allegations at an Italian Abbey. Soon a series of murders ensues, raising the stakes for the two investigators as Brother William and Adso race to find the serial killer. Adso is Watson to Brother William’s Sherlock. Set in an era long before forensic science, Brother William relies on logic and the philosophies of Aquinas and Aristotle for insight into the bizarre and ghastly murders. This detective novel unfolds like an intricate and deeply satisfying puzzle.

Mexican Gothic

By Silvia Moreno-Garcia,

Book cover of Mexican Gothic

Why this book?

Probably due to my PhD in British literature, I loved the Jane Eyre-ish elements of this mystery novel. Heavy with gothic nods to the Brontë sisters and Daphne du Murier, this detective novel features socialite, Noemí Taboada, heading to an estate in rural Mexico after receiving a disturbing letter from her cousin, Catalina. Once at the estate, Taboada teams up with the family’s son, Francis, as she unearths shocking family secrets. I love Taboada’s strength and resourcefulness as she braves everything to rescue Catalina. With haunting and beautifully written prose, this book unfolds a disturbing tale of greed and madness, and I cheered Taboada on at every page.

The Diviners

By Libba Bray,

Book cover of The Diviners

Why this book?

Evie O’Neill has been sent to live with her Uncle Will when she can’t obey the conventional rules of her hometown. The good news is that he lives in glitzy New York City during the 1920s, but Will runs a very different scene, operating the Museum of American Folklore, Superstition, and the Occult. After a girl’s body is discovered with clues indicating that the murder was motivated by the occult, Evie, her uncle, and a few new friends find themselves involved in the investigation. A Young Adult book, what I particularly love about this novel, is the way Evie evolves from a thoughtless party-girl to a young detective who embraces the psychic gift she has long kept at bay. In the process, she becomes wiser about the larger, complicated world around her.  

Lady Audley's Secret

By Mary Elizabeth Braddon,

Book cover of Lady Audley's Secret

Why this book?

Often overlooked on detective fiction lists, Lady Audley’s Secret is a hidden gem. My favorite Victorian detective novel, I didn’t discover the book until grad school, and since have taught it in numerous British lit courses. When Robert Audley becomes curious about the beautiful, young bride of his uncle, Michael Audley, he starts investigating her past. He finds surprising ties to his friend George Talbot, who, years earlier, abandoned his young wife and son to seek his fortune in Australia. What I love about this book is how Braddon plays with Victorian anxieties—particularly preoccupations with the unconventional means a woman might go through to escape unhappiness. 

5 book lists we think you will like!

Interested in Sherlock Holmes, the Middle Ages, and murders?

5,888 authors have recommended their favorite books and what they love about them. Browse their picks for the best books about Sherlock Holmes, the Middle Ages, and murders.

Sherlock Holmes Explore 44 books about Sherlock Holmes
The Middle Ages Explore 245 books about the Middle Ages
Murders Explore 339 books about murders

And, 3 books we think you will enjoy!

We think you will like The Winter King, The Mists of Avalon, and Rebecca if you like this list.