10 Mystery Book Series That Keep Amateur Detectives Guessing
Why stop with just one standalone whodunnit? Follow beloved detectives and their crime-solving adventures through these favorite mystery book series.
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Thrills, chills, plot twists and whodunnits
Whether you reach for cozy mysteries, gumshoe detectives, dark psychological thrillers or criminal underworlds, you’ve probably experienced the pain of ending a mystery and craving more. That’s why we love a great series. Not only do mystery book series let us dive deep into the protagonist’s world, we also stay glued to the pages as we crack a new case each time. So if you’re looking for a great series over a standalone book, you’re in luck. We’ve gathered 10 of the best mystery book series for fans of all tastes—from police procedurals to gritty noir.
Our choices for the best mystery book series include some of the most well-reviewed and popular cozy mysteries, true-crime books and Agatha Christie books from the past century. Many of these mystery books have developed a loyal fan base over the years, and some of the best books have even been adapted into TV shows or movies. So get ready to curl up with a massive stuck of whodunnits.
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1. Chief Inspector Armand Gamache series by Louise Penny
Series starter: Still Life (2005)
What you’re in for: Homicide (with a hint of cozy), a beloved village, a book-to-TV adaptation
Louise Penny’s mystery book series follows the bold Chief Inspector Armand Gamache, who heads up the homicide department at Surêté du Québec (Quebec’s provincial police force). The book series is famous for its heroic protagonist (Gamache), a modern Hercule Poirot, who was introduced in 2005 with Still Life, about the investigation into the murder of a retired teacher known for her painting skills. The Gamache series was not only turned into a Prime Video show (Three Pines), Penny also won an Agatha Award for her 16th book in the series, All the Devils Are Here. If your book choices tend to be influenced by the mystery shows you binge, check out the Gamache series first and then get some book recommendations based on your favorite television shows.
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2. The Thursday Murder Club series by Richard Osman
Series starter: The Thursday Murder Club (2020)
What you’re in for: Murder and mirth, octogenarians, laugh-out-loud gags
Richard Osman’s first installment of this series burst onto the scene in 2020, when readers needed a dose of merriment. These lighthearted mysteries center around four unlikely friends who live at Coopers Chase Retirement Village in England. These sprightly, energetic elderly folk spend their days solving cold-case murders from police files they’ve secretly acquired. Since The Thursday Murder Club, Osman has graced bookstore shelves with The Man Who Died Twice (2021) and The Bullet That Missed (2022), both of which we consider great book club reads. A fourth book is set to be published in September 2023.
3. Hercule Poirot series by Agatha Christie
Series starter: The Mysterious Affair at Styles (1920)
What you’re in for: Classic cozy mysteries, an iconic detective
If Agatha Christie is the queen of whodunnits, Hercule Poirot is perhaps her most trusted imaginary advisor. The Belgian detective has shown up onscreen many times, including recent portrayals by Kenneth Branagh in Death on the Nile and Murder on the Orient Express. But Christie first introduced detective Poirot in her 1920 classic novel The Mysterious Affair at Styles. The story begins with a sudden death during a wartime visit to the British countryside. While most folks suspect the highly dislikable husband, a great detective living nearby (Poirot, of course) is determined to consider all suspects equally. And while each Poirot book can be read as a standalone, keep in mind that Christie does include subtle references to previous cases and characters throughout.
4. The Dublin Murder Squad series by Tana French
Series starter: In the Woods (2007)
What you’re in for: Dark and atmospheric chills, Ireland-set thrills
Tana French’s Irish mysteries will chill you to the bone with their dark blend of psychological suspense and touches of horror. The series begins with In the Woods, when Rob Ryan, a detective on the Dublin Murder Squad, is sent to investigate the horrific killing of a little girl. Her body was uncovered in the same dark woods where Ryan himself was found as a boy—bloodied, shaken and unable to remember how or where his playmates had vanished. The mystery book series was adapted into a TV show (Dublin Murders) in 2019, but we always suggest reading the books before streaming.
5. The Lady Sherlock series by Sherry Thomas
Series starter: A Study in Scarlet Women (2016)
What you’re in for: Victorian-set British mysteries, a twist on a classic
This bestselling mystery book series gives a classic tale a feminist twist: What if the most iconic literary detective had been a woman? Like Sherlock, Charlotte Holmes is smart. She is observant. She is tenacious. And she is desperate to make enough money to avoid needing a man for support. That’s where her detective skills come in. With the help of her friend Mrs. Watson, she takes on murderers and thieves under the alias “Sherlock Holmes.” Indeed, the games are afoot!
6. The Plum series by Janet Evanovich
Series starter: One for the Money (1994)
What you’re in for: Laugh-out-loud hi-jinks, action and suspense
If you prefer your mysteries packed with outrageous characters and a heaping helping of ridiculous humor, you’ll love all 29 of Janet Evanovich’s Stephanie Plum books (start with One for the Money). Plum’s life has hit a dead end. She lost her job and car, and now she’s flat broke. And while she has no idea what she’s doing, she decides to become a bounty hunter—come what may. Her first case just so happens to be a dirty ex-cop she knew back in high school. This funny book was loved enough to be adapted into a movie in 2012 (One for the Money, starring Katherine Heigl).
7. Nora Watts series by Sheena Kamal
Series starter: The Lost Ones (2017)
What you’re in for: Psychological suspense, a fearless (and flawed) heroine
Nora Watts knows what it’s like to feel lost. She spent years in the foster care system and has experienced homelessness as an adult. But thanks to her laser-sharp lie-detection skills, she’s now working in private investigations. In this top fiction book, The Lost Ones, Sheena Kamal’s first book in the series, Nora is awakened by a phone call in the middle of the night. A man’s teenaged daughter is missing. And, oh, by the way, the girl is also the baby Nora gave up for adoption 15 years ago. Can she face her past and inner demons to take on the case?
8. Highway 59 series by Attica Locke
Series starter: Bluebird, Bluebird (2017)
What you’re in for: Small town Texas noir, an edge-of-your-seat thriller
Perhaps Ann Patchett said it best: “In Bluebird, Bluebird, Attica Locke had both mastered the thriller and exceeded it.” Locke’s Highway 59 series follows Darren Matthews, a Black Texas Ranger faced with solving crimes while dealing with the racial inequities and politics of rural life in the Lone Star State. On the hunt for more mystery reads by Black authors? Locke’s series currently has two books—the Edgar Award–winning Bluebird, Bluebird and Heaven, My Home—but there’s hope for a third. (Locke is also a screenwriter for some of the best shows on Netflix and Hulu, including From Scratch and Little Fires Everywhere.)
9. The Motts Cold Case Mystery series by Dahlia Donovan
Series starter: Poisoned Primrose
What you’re in for: Quirky characters, British cozy mystery
If lighthearted cozies are your thing, you’ll fall in love with Dahlia Donovan’s charming whodunnits set in the U.K. village of Cornwall. Meet Pineapple “Motts” Mottley. She’s a self-described autistic, asexual woman, and she and her cat just want a little peace and quiet by the sea. Instead, Motts finds dead bodies. Enjoy the mayhem that unfolds as she and her new motley group of friends work to solve one mystery after another. Pick up this mystery book series (which has four titles, starting with Poisoned Primrose) if you love a diverse cast of characters, from our neurodivergent protagonist to LGBTQ neighbors and friends.
10. Perveen Mistry series by Sujata Massey
Series starter: The Widows of Malabar Hill
What you’re in for: An atmospheric historical mystery set in Bombay, a captivating female investigator
Welcome to 1920s India. Perveen Mistry is the only female lawyer in Bombay, which means she’s a natural fit to seek justice for crimes against women. And she’s doing exactly that. In this historical fiction mystery, The Widows of Malabar Hill, Mistry is investigating a shady will for three Muslim widows when the case turns sinister. Someone has been murdered, and it’s up to Mistry to sniff out the culprit. Reviewers love how this series introduces different cultures and religions with a creative, cunning heroine and complex crimes.