100 books like The Frangipani Tree Mystery

By Ovidia Yu,

Here are 100 books that The Frangipani Tree Mystery fans have personally recommended if you like The Frangipani Tree Mystery. Shepherd is a community of 10,000+ authors and super readers sharing their favorite books with the world.

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Book cover of Crocodile on the Sandbank

Harini Nagendra Author Of The Bangalore Detectives Club

From my list on historical crime books with spunky women protagonists.

Why am I passionate about this?

I’m an ecologist who loves history. I love incorporating elements from the past in my non-fiction and fiction writing. I’ve learnt so much about parts of the world I have never visited from historical mysteries, especially those with strong female characters. My grandmother, born in 1907 during the British Raj, fought just to go to school. I love books that offer an insight into the lives and thoughts of fierce, feisty women like her, everyday women who did extraordinary things. Each of the books I’ve selected is the first in a series, and I hope they give you endless hours of reading pleasure, just as they did for me.

Harini's book list on historical crime books with spunky women protagonists

Harini Nagendra Why did Harini love this book?

Amelia Peabody, the heroine of this series, is that rarity, a female archeologist elbowing her way into digs and expeditions, the domain of men in 1890s Egypt. Amelia fearlessly deals with master criminals and tomb robbers, using a stout belt and large umbrella, solving crimes with panache.

In this book, the first of the series, she rescues a damsel in distress, falls in love, and uncovers the secret of a walking mummy.

It’s a rollicking romp of a read but doesn’t shy away from showing the divisions of the times between Europeans and ‘natives,’ men and women, rich and poor. The author is an Egyptologist herself, and her expertise shows through; as an academic myself, I’m very inspired by her work! This is one of my absolute favourites.

By Elizabeth Peters,

Why should I read it?

10 authors picked Crocodile on the Sandbank as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Amelia Peabody is Elizabeth Peters' most brilliant and best-loved creation, a thoroughly Victorian feminist who takes the stuffy world of archaeology by storm with her shocking men's pants and no-nonsense attitude!

In this first adventure, our headstrong heroine decides to use her substantial inheritance to see the world. On her travels, she rescues a gentlewoman in distress - Evelyn Barton-Forbes - and the two become friends. The two companions continue to Egypt where they face mysteries, mummies and the redoubtable Radcliffe Emerson, an outspoken archaeologist, who doesn't need women to help him solve mysteries -- at least that's what he…


Book cover of The Unexpected Mrs. Pollifax

Harini Nagendra Author Of The Bangalore Detectives Club

From my list on historical crime books with spunky women protagonists.

Why am I passionate about this?

I’m an ecologist who loves history. I love incorporating elements from the past in my non-fiction and fiction writing. I’ve learnt so much about parts of the world I have never visited from historical mysteries, especially those with strong female characters. My grandmother, born in 1907 during the British Raj, fought just to go to school. I love books that offer an insight into the lives and thoughts of fierce, feisty women like her, everyday women who did extraordinary things. Each of the books I’ve selected is the first in a series, and I hope they give you endless hours of reading pleasure, just as they did for me.

Harini's book list on historical crime books with spunky women protagonists

Harini Nagendra Why did Harini love this book?

While this wasn’t written as a historical, it was published in the 1960s, so it qualifies as one.

Mrs. Pollifax is another unlikely spunky heroine who’s one of my favorites. A suburban housewife and widow with grown children and an empty nest, Pollifax is so bored with gardening and yoga that she volunteers to help the CIA! What was supposed to be a short and safe trip to Mexico City turns into something far more sinister, and she ends up in an Albanian prison.

It could be a wild and unbelievable read, but in this author’s skillful hands, the plot comes together perfectly. Gillman’s sense of society and cultural context is nuanced, and I love how her books bring out her belief in the strength of innate human kindness.

By Dorothy Gilman,

Why should I read it?

5 authors picked The Unexpected Mrs. Pollifax as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Mrs Emily Pollifax is a 60-ish widow wanting more from life than teas and garden club meetings. In search of adventure, she decides to offer her services to the CIA - who, after all, would spot a suburban grandmother as a cold war secret agent? - and adventure she finds. Her first assignment, in Mexico City, doesn't sound dangerous until something goes wrong. She suddenly finds herself abducted across the world, embroiled in quite a hot Cold War... and her abductors find themselves entangled with one unbelievably feisty lady. Armed with only an open mind and a little karate, Mrs…


Book cover of Her Royal Spyness

Harini Nagendra Author Of The Bangalore Detectives Club

From my list on historical crime books with spunky women protagonists.

Why am I passionate about this?

I’m an ecologist who loves history. I love incorporating elements from the past in my non-fiction and fiction writing. I’ve learnt so much about parts of the world I have never visited from historical mysteries, especially those with strong female characters. My grandmother, born in 1907 during the British Raj, fought just to go to school. I love books that offer an insight into the lives and thoughts of fierce, feisty women like her, everyday women who did extraordinary things. Each of the books I’ve selected is the first in a series, and I hope they give you endless hours of reading pleasure, just as they did for me.

Harini's book list on historical crime books with spunky women protagonists

Harini Nagendra Why did Harini love this book?

Who wouldn’t love a fun book about royals and murder?

Lady Victoria Georgiana Charlotte Eugenie, Georgie for short, is waaay down the line of people to inherit, 34th in the queue, to be precise. And she’s flat broke. Thrown out of the Scotland castle that is her childhood home by her greedy sister-in-law, Georgie cleans homes in secret to earn a bit of money.

Things are just beginning to look up when she finds a dead Frenchman in her bathtub! If being suspected of murder is not enough, she’s also been given a job by the Queen to spy on the playboy Prince of Wales.

Georgie is irrepressible and full of spunk. She’s clumsy, makes mistakes, and fails often, but never gives up. A most relatable heroine.

By Rhys Bowen,

Why should I read it?

5 authors picked Her Royal Spyness as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

THE FIRST ROYAL SPYNESS MYSTERY!

The New York Times bestselling author of the Molly Murphy and Constable Evan Evans mysteries turns her attentions to "a feisty new heroine to delight a legion of Anglophile readers."*

London, 1932. Lady Victoria Georgiana Charlotte Eugenie, 34th in line for the English throne, is flat broke. She's bolted Scotland, her greedy brother, and her fish-faced betrothed. London is a place where she'll experience freedom, learn life lessons aplenty, do a bit of spying for HRH-oh, and find a dead Frenchman in her tub. Now her new job is to clear her long family name...


Book cover of Grey Mask

Harini Nagendra Author Of The Bangalore Detectives Club

From my list on historical crime books with spunky women protagonists.

Why am I passionate about this?

I’m an ecologist who loves history. I love incorporating elements from the past in my non-fiction and fiction writing. I’ve learnt so much about parts of the world I have never visited from historical mysteries, especially those with strong female characters. My grandmother, born in 1907 during the British Raj, fought just to go to school. I love books that offer an insight into the lives and thoughts of fierce, feisty women like her, everyday women who did extraordinary things. Each of the books I’ve selected is the first in a series, and I hope they give you endless hours of reading pleasure, just as they did for me.

Harini's book list on historical crime books with spunky women protagonists

Harini Nagendra Why did Harini love this book?

Patricia Wentworth is one of the most atmospheric writers I’ve read.

This is the first in her Miss Silver series, featuring an elderly lady who looks a lot like Miss Marple but pre-dates her. While still within the cozy genre, parts of this book, especially the opening section, where the mysterious man in the gray mask makes his first appearance, can make your spine tingle with that delicious feeling of tension that only a good mystery book brings.

Like Miss Marple, Miss Silver is adept at deducing what the various protagonists might do based on her reading of their psychology, but the characters are much better fleshed out in these books, as is the period in which it is set. And the romance is a definite bonus.

By Patricia Wentworth,

Why should I read it?

2 authors picked Grey Mask as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Governess-turned-detective Miss Silver investigates a deadly conspiratorial ring

Charles Moray has come home to England to collect his inheritance. After four years wandering the jungles of India and South America, the hardy young man returns to the manor of his birth, where generations of Morays have lived and died. Strangely, he finds the house unlocked, and sees a light on in one of its abandoned rooms. Eavesdropping, he learns of a conspiracy to commit a fearsome crime.

Never one for the heroic, Charles’s first instinct is to let the police settle it. But then he hears her voice. Margaret, his…


Book cover of Bayou Book Thief

Libby Klein Author Of Class Reunions Are Murder

From my list on murder mysteries to make you laugh your butt off.

Why am I passionate about this?

I graduated from Lower Cape May Regional High School in the '80s. My classes revolved mostly around the culinary sciences and theater, with the occasional nap in Chemistry. I write culinary cozy mysteries from my Northern Virginia office while trying to keep my naughty cat off my keyboard. I was diagnosed with an autoimmune disease that prevents me from eating gluten without exploding. I now create gluten-free goodies at home and include the recipes in my Cape May-based Poppy McAllister series. Most of my hobbies revolve around eating and travel, and eating while traveling. My secret powers include finding my way to any coffee shop anywhere in the world, even while blindfolded.

Libby's book list on murder mysteries to make you laugh your butt off

Libby Klein Why did Libby love this book?

Twenty-eight-year-old widow Ricki James leaves Los Angeles to start a new life in New Orleans after her showboating actor husband perishes doing a stupid internet stunt. The Big Easy is where she was born and adopted by the NICU nurse who cared for her after Ricki’s teen mother disappeared from the hospital.

Ricki’s dream comes true when she joins the quirky staff of Bon Vee Culinary House Museum, the spectacular former Garden District home of late bon vivant Genevieve “Vee” Charbonnet, the city’s legendary restauranteur. Ricki is excited about turning her avocation—collecting vintage cookbooks—into a vocation by launching the museum’s gift shop, Miss Vee’s Vintage Cookbooks and Kitchenware. Then she discovers that a box of donated vintage cookbooks contains the body of a cantankerous Bon Vee employee who was fired after being exposed as a book thief.

The skills Ricki has developed ferreting out hidden vintage treasures come in handy…

By Ellen Byron,

Why should I read it?

2 authors picked Bayou Book Thief as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

A fantastic new cozy mystery series with a vintage flair from USA Today bestselling and Agatha Award–winning author Ellen Byron.

Twenty-eight-year-old widow Ricki James leaves Los Angeles to start a new life in New Orleans after her showboating actor husband perishes doing a stupid internet stunt. The Big Easy is where she was born and adopted by the NICU nurse who cared for her after Ricki’s teen mother disappeared from the hospital.
 
Ricki’s dream comes true when she joins the quirky staff of Bon Vee Culinary House Museum, the spectacular former Garden District home of late bon vivant Genevieve “Vee”…


Book cover of Drive Your Plow Over the Bones of the Dead

Sabrina Reeves Author Of Little Crosses

From my list on a fierce female protagonist.

Why am I passionate about this?

I grew up in Boston and New York and currently live in Montreal. I have worked primarily in writing performance texts and plays. I founded the performance company Bluemouth Inc., with whom I have written and staged over a dozen works. In 2018, I completed an MFA in Creative Writing at Concordia University, where I was awarded the Dean of Arts and Sciences Award for Excellence in Creative Writing. As for my expertise in compiling this list, I am the daughter of a strong force-of-nature woman who fought for what she had and taught her kids they can get through anything as long as they have humor, music, and books.

Sabrina's book list on a fierce female protagonist

Sabrina Reeves Why did Sabrina love this book?

I remember an awards ceremony where Bjork described herself as “a musical scientist.” Most likely accepting some well-deserved award, she spoke in this odd sing-song way that made her seem genuinely like a mad scientist.

I think Olga Tokarczuk is a bit like Bjork. Her voice is utterly unique, with a texture and humor perfectly suited to this book's marvelous protagonist. I loved Janina Dusezjko, a cranky old Polish woman wandering the hills of her village trying to solve a mystery. I could have listened to her for the whole book even if there was no mystery, so the unraveling felt like an added bonus! 

By Olga Tokarczuk, Antonia Lloyd-Jones (translator),

Why should I read it?

9 authors picked Drive Your Plow Over the Bones of the Dead as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

With DRIVE YOUR PLOW OVER THE BONES OF THE DEAD, Nobel Prize in Literature laureate Olga Tokarczuk returns with a subversive, entertaining noir novel. In a remote Polish village, Janina Duszejko, an eccentric woman in her sixties, recounts the events surrounding the disappearance of her two dogs. She is reclusive, preferring the company of animals to people; she's unconventional, believing in the stars; and she is fond of the poetry of William Blake, from whose work the title of the book is taken. When members of a local hunting club are found murdered, Duszejko becomes involved in the investigation. By…


Book cover of I Only Read Murder

Kate Hilton Author Of Bury the Lead

From my list on amateur detective novels that keep you laughing while they keep you guessing.

Why am I passionate about this?

I’ve loved murder mysteries since childhood, and during the pandemic–when reading became a challenge–I returned to my first literary love, binging on one mystery series after another. Eventually, I decided to write one with my friend Elizabeth Renzetti. It’s been the most enjoyable writing experience either of us has had. I’ve written three other published novels, and I have a day job as a therapist (I like to think this helps with realistic characterization, but it also pays the bills). I write humor because I like to have fun at work, and I appreciate a good laugh when I’m reading.

Kate's book list on amateur detective novels that keep you laughing while they keep you guessing

Kate Hilton Why did Kate love this book?

I couldn’t help but root for Miranda Abbott, the hilariously self-absorbed heroine of I Only Read Murder. The formerly famous television star of the Pastor Fran crime-fighting series, Miranda’s path to redemption requires her to solve a real-life murder where all the suspects are members of an amateur theatrical society. I Only Read Murder is ridiculously entertaining, a very fun romp that takes full advantage of the cozy mystery tropes we all love. 

By Ian Ferguson, Will Ferguson,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

“Strap in for a hilarious and satisfying ride.” —Terry Fallis, bestselling author of Operation Angus

A once-famous TV sleuth
An amateur theater production
An onstage murder
A town full of suspects…

Miranda Abbott, once known for the crime-solving, karate-chopping church pastor she played on network television, has hit hard times. She’s facing ruin when a mysterious postcard arrives, summoning her to Happy Rock, a small town in the Pacific Northwest. But when she gets there, nothing is what she expected.

In dire straits, she signs up for an amateur production at the Happy Rock Little Theater. On opening night, one…


Book cover of Design for Dying

Laini Giles Author Of The Forgotten Flapper

From my list on capturing the magic of old Hollywood.

Why am I passionate about this?

I am an old movie fan and a novelist who has been writing historical fiction about show business since 2010. As a stickler for detail, I use oodles of old Hollywood biographies and other research sources to learn everything I can about my subjects and weave as accurate a tale as I can. My Forgotten Actresses series is up to four books, with plenty more under construction. 

Laini's book list on capturing the magic of old Hollywood

Laini Giles Why did Laini love this book?

I gotta love any mystery that features costume mistress extraordinaire Edith Head as a detective! 

I love this book for the frothy, fun adventures (and, of course, the clothes!) of the plucky lady investigators, Lillian and Edith. 

Also, I loved meeting Bob Hope, director Preston Sturges, Barbara Stanwyck, and costume designer Travis Banton over the course of the book!

By Renee Patrick,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Design for Dying as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Los Angeles, 1937. Lillian Frost has traded dreams of stardom for security as a department store salesgirl . . . until she discovers she's a suspect in the murder of her former roommate, Ruby Carroll. Party girl Ruby died wearing a gown she stole from the wardrobe department at Paramount Pictures, domain of Edith Head.

Edith has yet to win the first of her eight Academy Awards; right now she's barely hanging on to her job, and a scandal is the last thing she needs. To clear Lillian's name and save Edith's career, the two women join forces.

Unraveling the…


Book cover of Red Queen

Bruce Borgos Author Of The Bitter Past

From my list on a protagonist who has extraordinary capabilities.

Why am I passionate about this?

I’ve always loved peculiar heroes and heroines. Characters with strange gifts and an equal number of challenges. It started with Sherlock Holmes, whose mind fascinated me. As a child, I gravitated to the unnatural protagonist, Tarzan, in the Edgar Rice Burroughs novels and Bilbo Baggins in The Lord of the Rings trilogy. I was never a big fan of Superman, I preferred people who adapted quickly to new surroundings and could think on their feet. Once I began my writing career, I kept those protagonists in my mind. Four novels in, I do my best to capture their spirit and determination to overcome whatever lands in front of them.

Bruce's book list on a protagonist who has extraordinary capabilities

Bruce Borgos Why did Bruce love this book?

I loved this book because Antonia Scott might just be my favorite protagonist of all time.

She’s literally the most intelligent person in the world, with an I.Q. of over 200. She’s plagued by guilt and awkward social skills, but she has more crime-solving abilities than an entire police force. She’s Sherlock Holmes on steroids, with a hyper-intelligent sense of humor!

By Juan Gomez-Jurado,

Why should I read it?

2 authors picked Red Queen as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Now an Amazon Prime Original series, Red Queen is the first in Juan Gomez-Jurado's internationally bestselling thriller series, translated by Nick Caistor. Winner of the Cognac Prize 2022 with more than two million copies sold in Spain alone.

Sunday Times - Best Thriller Books of the Year

'A Spanish spin on The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo . . . A female Sherlock Holmes' - The Times

You've never met anyone like her . . .

Antonia Scott is special. Very special. She is not a policewoman or a lawyer. She has never wielded a weapon or carried a badge,…


Book cover of The Yiddish Policemen's Union

Rod Kackley Author Of Empty Minute: A Murder Mystery

From my list on cops and reporters bringing bad guys to justice.

Why am I passionate about this?

Crime fiction, true crime, mystery, and suspense books allow us to brush up against the worst society has to offer without getting hurt. There’s a lot to be said for vicarious thrills, isn’t there. I am just a simple man telling simple stories about good vs. evil. And sometimes, in my stories, fiction or not, the bad guys win. But I do love telling stories, and when I find a good one, I can’t wait to tell you aboutit. That’s what I have done here.

Rod's book list on cops and reporters bringing bad guys to justice

Rod Kackley Why did Rod love this book?

I’ve read this book so many times that I had to buy a hardcover edition to replace the paperback I wore out.

Michael Chabon creates an alternative world where the Jewish people didn’t last long in Israel after World War Two. They wound up in the Federal District of Sitka, Alaska, with a lease for the land from the U.S. government, but now the lease is up, and they have to move. Somewhere. Almost anywhere.

Good story if it ends there, right?

But wait, this one doesn’t.

In the middle of this political conundrum, homicide detective Meyer Landsman finds a neighbor in the fleabag hotel he calls home murdered. And get this; the dead man might be the Messiah the Jewish people have been waiting for.

Good story, End it here? Nope.

Guess who shows up unexpectedly. Meyer’s ex-wife! And now she’s his boss. Awkward!

And it’s also a hell…

By Michael Chabon,

Why should I read it?

6 authors picked The Yiddish Policemen's Union as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

The brilliantly original new novel from Michael Chabon, author of THE ADVENTURES OF KAVALIER & CLAY and WONDER BOYS.

What if, as Franklin Roosevelt once proposed, Alaska - and not Israel - had become the homeland for the Jews after the Second World War? In Michael Chabon's Yiddish-speaking 'Alyeska', Orthodox gangs in side-curls and knee breeches roam the streets of Sitka, where Detective Meyer Landsman discovers the corpse of a heroin-addled chess prodigy in the flophouse Meyer calls home. Marionette strings stretch back to the hands of charismatic Rebbe Gold, leader of a sect that seems to have drawn its…


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