90 books like Under Lock & Skeleton Key

By Gigi Pandian,

Here are 90 books that Under Lock & Skeleton Key fans have personally recommended if you like Under Lock & Skeleton Key. Shepherd is a community of 9,000+ authors and super readers sharing their favorite books with the world.

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Book cover of Gaudy Night

L.A. Fields Author Of Mrs. Watson: Untold Stories

From my list on women dealing with domestic mysteries.

Who am I?

I am the author of the Sherlockiana duology My Dear Watson and Mrs. Watson: Untold Stories. I chose these books because they all have British women at the helm, involve detectives and/or investigative processes, and contain close-to-home scandals and intrigue. In that sense, these are “domestic” mysteries—books that contain puzzles related to everyday household drama. Miss Marple, Harriet Vane, and the women of Baker Street solve literal detective cases. The secret writings of Anne Lister and Constance Wilde show how they decoded the homosexual element in their lives, and used their writing to maintain a sense of self in oppressive societies. Each of them are women after my own heart.

L.A.'s book list on women dealing with domestic mysteries

L.A. Fields Why did L.A. love this book?

Gaudy Night is one of several books featuring Harriet Vane, a mystery writer who first meets detective Lord Peter Wimsey while on trial for allegedly poisoning her lover. Set in a fictional Oxford women’s college, the story involves threatening letters, escalating vandalism, and violence.

Harriet is an educated professional. She is notorious due to scandal. She is trying to balance her independence in the 1930s and her romance with Peter. She is conflicted about whether her future should involve marriage and children.

This book is both a detective story, and a novel about the work-life balance struggles faced by women. Can Harriet “have it all” on her own terms? With the respect of the right partner, and a knowledge of her own mind, needs, and desires, it’s definitely worth trying.

By Dorothy L. Sayers,

Why should I read it?

10 authors picked Gaudy Night as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

The twelfth book in Dorothy L Sayers' classic Lord Peter Wimsey series, introduced by actress Dame Harriet Mary Walter, DBE - a must-read for fans of Agatha Christie's Poirot and Margery Allingham's Campion Mysteries.

'D. L. Sayers is one of the best detective story writers' Daily Telegraph

Harriet Vane has never dared to return to her old Oxford college. Now, despite her scandalous life, she has been summoned back . . .

At first she thinks her worst fears have been fulfilled, as she encounters obscene graffiti, poison pen letters and a disgusting effigy when she arrives at sedate Shrewsbury…


Book cover of The Thursday Murder Club

Nancy Nau Sullivan Author Of A Deathly Irish Secret

From my list on mysteries served with a side of humor.

Who am I?

As an author, teacher, and newspaper journalist, my reading pattern has been eclectic; I’ve been enthralled with War and Peace and laughed at Janet Evanovich’s Stephanie Plum—and it all started when my mother introduced me to Laura Ingalls Wilder's Little House in the Big Woods when I was seven. How I ended up writing mysteries is something of a mystery to me, but I love writing setting, character, and the puzzle of it. With its fourth installment, A Deathly Irish Secret, the Blanche Murninghan mysteries keep on. I also wrote a suspense novel, The Boys of Alpha Block, about my years of teaching at a boys’ prison in Florida. The latter is not so funny.

Nancy's book list on mysteries served with a side of humor

Nancy Nau Sullivan Why did Nancy love this book?

Richard Osman’s touch with this intrepid group of septuagenarians who solve murders is outrageously hysterical, and insightful.

The Thursday Murder Club meets weekly at their assisted living complex, and their kick-off investigation is to look for the killer of a developer with suspicious plans for the surrounding property in the idyllic English countryside. Each of the four members of the club brings something to the table, mostly under the guidance of Elizabeth (a former spy) and Joyce (seemingly a bubblehead with iridescent smarts).

The guys bring their own baggage, wit, and forthright manners, and they all jump right off the page, mostly together. They are a tight, loyal group. Osman is a screenwriter, and his ability to deliver dialogue that is short and sharp goes directly to the funny bone.  

By Richard Osman,

Why should I read it?

18 authors picked The Thursday Murder Club as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

A New York Times bestseller | Soon to be a major motion picture from Steven Spielberg at Amblin Entertainment

"Witty, endearing and greatly entertaining." -Wall Street Journal

"Don't trust anyone, including the four septuagenarian sleuths in Osman's own laugh-out-loud whodunit." -Parade

Four septuagenarians with a few tricks up their sleeves
A female cop with her first big case
A brutal murder
Welcome to...
THE THURSDAY MURDER CLUB

In a peaceful retirement village, four unlikely friends meet weekly in the Jigsaw Room to discuss unsolved crimes; together they call themselves the Thursday Murder Club.

When a local developer is found dead…


Book cover of The Three Coffins

Erica Obey Author Of The Brooklyn North Murders

From my list on golden age mysteries for the 2020s.

Who am I?

My favorite childhood summertime memory is being allowed to choose a stack of Agatha Christies to take with me to summer camp and on vacation. As I moved on to academia and the “serious” study of literature, I quickly discovered that mysteries are every bit as serious as James Joyce—and are a lot more fun to read. Now that I have turned to writing the stories myself, I enjoy diving into a world of afternoon tea, well-read detectives, and impeccably mixed cocktails, and I love to find readers who want to join me there.

Erica's book list on golden age mysteries for the 2020s

Erica Obey Why did Erica love this book?

The Three Coffins is legendary among traditional mystery fans for its “locked room” lecture in Chapter Seventeen, in which the detective, Dr. Gideon Fell announces, “We're in a detective story, and we don't fool the reader by pretending we're not. Let's not invent elaborate excuses to drag in a discussion of detective stories. Let's candidly glory in the noblest pursuits possible to characters in a book." He then goes on to enumerate and classify the possible solutions to an impossible crime. What I love about this chapter is that Carr unapologetically defends escapist stories that depend upon style, wit, and an intelligent puzzle, rather than grimly realistic depictions of everyday life.

By John Dickson Carr,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

Professor Charles Grimaud was explaining to some friends the natural causes behind an ancient superstition about men leaving their coffins when a stranger entered and challenged Grimaud's skepticism. The stranger asserted that he had risen from his own coffin and that four walls meant nothing to him. He added, 'My brother can do more... he wants your life and will call on you!' The brother came during a snowstorm, walked through the locked front door, shot Grimaud and vanished. The tragedy brought Dr Gideon Fell into the bizarre mystery of a killer who left no footprints.


Book cover of The Stranger Diaries

Gail Lukasik Author Of The Darkness Surrounds Us

From my list on modern gothic mystery.

Who am I?

While an adjunct professor at a local Midwestern college, I taught a night course in gothic literature. It was winter and my drive was over an hour to the satellite location. The wintry journey seemed apropos of the gothic’s dark themes, eerie atmosphere, and supernatural world. Though I’d enjoyed gothic novels in the past, this course cemented my love of all things gothic. By teaching the course, I enhanced my understanding of gothic fiction through such stories as, The Yellow Wallpaper by Charlotte Perkins Gilman, The Turn of the Screw by Henry James, and Where are you going, where have you been by Joyce Carol Oates.

Gail's book list on modern gothic mystery

Gail Lukasik Why did Gail love this book?

What I admire about this gothic mystery is how it alternates between three narrators—a high school English teacher, her teenage daughter, and a detective—without losing tension and suspense.

The plot is beautifully interwoven. The English teacher, who’s writing a biography of an author of gothic tales, learns that her best friend is murdered, and that a line from the gothic writer’s story is found near the murder victim. Her diary becomes an outlet for her fears and suspicions, until someone writes in it. 

By Elly Griffiths,

Why should I read it?

4 authors picked The Stranger Diaries as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

THE TIMES CRIME BOOK OF THE YEAR. THE RICHARD & JUDY BOOK CLUB PICK.

'Utterly bewitching ... a pitch-perfect modern Gothic' AJ FINN, author of THE WOMAN IN THE WINDOW

A dark story has been brought to terrifying life. Can the ending be rewritten in time?

This is what the police know: English teacher Clare Cassidy's friend Ella has just been murdered. Clare and Ella had recently fallen out. Found beside the body was a line from The Stranger, a story by the Gothic writer Clare teaches, and the murder scene is identical to one of the deaths in the…


Book cover of Bet Me

Joss Wood Author Of Confessions of a Christmasholic

From my list on romance when life gets a bit real and want to hide.

Who am I?

I’m an author of over seventy romance books and have been a romance reader all my life. I think the first book I wrote (at the age of eight) featured a kiss. Yes, I was precocious, but in my defense, I was spying on my much older sister and her boyfriend at the time. Reading and writing romance is my passion, and I love spending my days creating independent, intelligent, and feisty heroines and hot, smart, modern men. I’m lucky enough to spend my days doing what I love. I hope you love the books on my list, and that they bring you as much pleasure (and an escape from reality) as they did me.

Joss' book list on romance when life gets a bit real and want to hide

Joss Wood Why did Joss love this book?

This is a seriously funny book full of great dialogue. It’s also a great premise…the hero who makes a bet with his friend to sleep with said friend’s very cranky ex-girlfriend.

Min has just been recently dumped by a man she didn’t love, but she’s not in the mood to deal with any man’s ****. Cal is stupidly handsome, successful, and charming, but he needs to be brought down a peg or ten. This is opposites attract romance with lots of heart!

By Jennifer Crusie,

Why should I read it?

3 authors picked Bet Me as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

The beloved New York Times bestselling novel, now with an exclusive letter from Jennifer Crusie in celebration of its tenth anniversary

This is New York Times and USA Today bestselling author Jennifer Crusie's novel about long shots, risk management, true love, and great shoes. . . .

Minerva Dobbs knows how to work the odds.
Calvin Morrisey always plays to win.

But when they face off, neither one is prepared.
Because when real life meets true love, all bets are off. . . .

Minerva Dobbs knows that happily-ever-after is a fairy tale, especially with a man who asked her…


Book cover of A Cold Day for Murder

Melissa Yi Author Of Code Blues

From my list on smart women who kick ass.

Who am I?

I love to read and write about strong women. I don't necessarily mean gunning down aliens while wearing tight pants. Those books can be good too, but let's be honest, tight pants encourage yeast infections. I prefer books where women handle anything from murder to wayward cats with intelligence and compassion, while wearing whatever they want. The women, I mean. Cats already figured out to skip the pants.

Melissa's book list on smart women who kick ass

Melissa Yi Why did Melissa love this book?

I fell in love with Kate Shugak as soon as I met her on the page.

Kate's an Aleutian private investigator who lives with Mutt, her half-wolf, half-husky, on a 160-acreage homestead in Alaska. Do you know why Kate carries a scar from ear to ear? Do you know why Kate and Mutt's nearest other neighbors are a grizzly bear and a moose, and why they like it that way?

If so, you probably know how everyone turns to Kate for justice and that this very first book won an Edgar Award. Maybe you, like me, have read all 26 books in this series. High five.

By Dana Stabenow,

Why should I read it?

2 authors picked A Cold Day for Murder as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Kate Shugak returns to her roots in the far Alaskan north, after leaving the Anchorage D.A.'s office. Her deductive powers are definitely needed when a ranger disappears. Looking for clues among the Aleutian pipeliners, she begins to realize the fine line between lies and loyalties--between justice served and cold murder.


Book cover of The Satapur Moonstone

Melissa Yi Author Of Code Blues

From my list on smart women who kick ass.

Who am I?

I love to read and write about strong women. I don't necessarily mean gunning down aliens while wearing tight pants. Those books can be good too, but let's be honest, tight pants encourage yeast infections. I prefer books where women handle anything from murder to wayward cats with intelligence and compassion, while wearing whatever they want. The women, I mean. Cats already figured out to skip the pants.

Melissa's book list on smart women who kick ass

Melissa Yi Why did Melissa love this book?

What if you wanted to practice law in India in 1922?

Women weren't allowed in court, but Perveen Mistry becomes a solicitor instead, working behind the scenes on wills and estate files. Perveen's gender becomes an asset when she can speak to women in purdah, a practice where women seclude themselves from men in some Muslim or Hindu communities.

I liked the first book, The Widows of Malabar Hill, but truly enjoyed The Satapur Moonstone, where Perveen heads out to the Sahyadri mountains to help a royal family after the maharaja has died and the crown prince is too young to rule.

In addition to the mystery, and learning about the history of India, I could hear the buzz of mosquitoes, the tree frogs peeping, and the hooting of owls, as well as imagine the tigers and leopards in the jungle.

By Sujata Massey,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

'Vivid and clever...love her to bits.' Kerry Greenwood, bestselling author of the Miss Phryne Fisher series

The delightfully clever Perveen Mistry, Bombay's first female lawyer, returns in an adventure of treacherous intrigues and suspicious deaths.

India, 1922: It is rainy season in the lush, remote Sahyadri Mountains southeast of Bombay, where the kingdom of Satapur is tucked away. A curse has fallen upon Satapur's royal family, whose maharaja and his teenage son are both dead. The kingdom is now ruled by an agent of the British Raj on behalf of Satapur's two maharanis, the dowager queen and the maharaja's widow.…


Book cover of Loving Chloe

Melissa Yi Author Of Code Blues

From my list on smart women who kick ass.

Who am I?

I love to read and write about strong women. I don't necessarily mean gunning down aliens while wearing tight pants. Those books can be good too, but let's be honest, tight pants encourage yeast infections. I prefer books where women handle anything from murder to wayward cats with intelligence and compassion, while wearing whatever they want. The women, I mean. Cats already figured out to skip the pants.

Melissa's book list on smart women who kick ass

Melissa Yi Why did Melissa love this book?

Everything about this book steals my heart, from Chloe's tenderness with horses to the Diné (Navajo) children who don't have enough books at their school.

But let me back up and tell you that Chloe is pregnant with Hank's child. She shouldn't be riding horses at all, but the call is too strong. Hank's a good guy who can't find professor work in Arizona, ends up teaching the Diné children, and finds he loves them more than working at a university.

It should be a happy ending between Hank and Chloe and the upcoming baby, except the horse belongs to an artist named Junior Whitebear, who returns to town and forms an instant, overpowering connection with Chloe. Mapson writes so well that she makes me ache.

By Jo-Ann Mapson,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Loving Chloe as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

When 34-year-old Chloe Morgan appears on Hank Oliver's doorstep in Cameron, Arizona, she arrives with more than her old white German shepherd, Hannah, and a rambunctious horse in tow. Chloe is pregnant with Hank's child, and she's as tough-talking and vulnerable, skittish and tender as when last we saw her, in Jo-Ann Mapson's acclaimed first novel Hank & Chloe.

Loving Chloe takes up where the earlier novel leaves off. As Chloe and Hank settle somewhat uneasily into domesticity in his grandmother's cabin, a local Navajo legend named Junior Whitebear, an artist whose work has been praised by the eastern commercial…


Book cover of Rim of the Pit

Tom Mead Author Of The Murder Wheel: A Locked-Room Mystery

From my list on mystery with a hint of magic.

Who am I?

I’m a devourer of Golden Age Detective Fiction, and a writer of locked-room mysteries inspired by the classics. When it comes to old-school mystery writers, my favourites are John Dickson Carr, Ellery Queen, and of course Agatha Christie. What I love about that era is the brilliance of the puzzles, and the way those writers really engaged with the reader and (in some cases) addressed them directly, challenging them to solve the crime along with the detective. Additionally, I’m fascinated by stage illusions (though I’m terrible at performing them myself), and this has also had a major influence on my writing.

Tom's book list on mystery with a hint of magic

Tom Mead Why did Tom love this book?

This book captures just about everything I love about the mystery genre.

It’s a locked-room mystery set in a snowbound cabin, where a group of city slickers find themselves confronted with a seemingly supernatural entity: the Wendigo. Rim of the Pit has a tangible sense of dread, which is something you don’t often find in Golden Age mysteries, but at the same time it’s a masterclass in logic and misdirection.

It certainly taught me a lot about creating suspense but also about planting clues – lessons I’ve put to use in my own books.  

By Hake Talbot,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

The cult classic mystery that John Dickson Carr hailed as “a marvel of ingenuity.”

“I came here to make a dead man change his mind.”

So begins a creepy and unusual mystery celebrated to this day as one of the greatest “impossible crime” novels of all time. When a family’s promise to protect the beloved pine grove of their dead father creates a financial strain, a seance is suggested to summon the ghost of the late logger and ask its permission. A mixed group of skeptics and believers convene at a snow-bound lodge to call the spirit with a group…


Book cover of Death From a Top Hat: A Great Merlini Mystery

Tom Mead Author Of The Murder Wheel: A Locked-Room Mystery

From my list on mystery with a hint of magic.

Who am I?

I’m a devourer of Golden Age Detective Fiction, and a writer of locked-room mysteries inspired by the classics. When it comes to old-school mystery writers, my favourites are John Dickson Carr, Ellery Queen, and of course Agatha Christie. What I love about that era is the brilliance of the puzzles, and the way those writers really engaged with the reader and (in some cases) addressed them directly, challenging them to solve the crime along with the detective. Additionally, I’m fascinated by stage illusions (though I’m terrible at performing them myself), and this has also had a major influence on my writing.

Tom's book list on mystery with a hint of magic

Tom Mead Why did Tom love this book?

The main character in Death From A Top Hat is the enigmatic magician, The Great Merlini, and he is certainly a beguiling and intriguing character!

The perfect amateur sleuth, with everything I love about this particular “stock character.” He’s funny, he’s smart, and he has – quite literally – plenty of tricks up his sleeve. This book, along with the rest of the Merlini series, offers many brilliant insights into the world of professional illusion.

But most important of all, this book offers an irresistible mystery that certainly kept me guessing!

By Clayton Rawson,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Death From a Top Hat as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

A detective steeped in the art of magic solves the mystifying murder of two occultists.

Now retired from the tour circuit on which he made his name, master magician The Great Merlini spends his days running a magic shop in New York’s Times Square and his nights moonlighting as a consultant for the NYPD. The cops call him when faced with crimes so impossible that they can only be comprehended by a magician’s mind. In the most recent case, two occultists are discovered dead in locked rooms, one spread out on a pentagram, both appearing to have been murdered under…


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