Mystery is one of those genres that comes in all kinds of flavors. They run the gamut from Raymond Chandler’s noir, to Dianne Mott Davidson’s cooking mysteries. There are 3 different styles I find myself drawn to time and again.
This is the type of story that happens in a small town and the murderer/criminal is someone everyone knows and trusts. The detective can be an amateur, Miss Marple, Jessica Fletcher, or a policeman – Inspector Barnaby from the Midsomer Murder series.
The reader is given clues throughout to let them solve the mystery along with the detective.
My recommendation for this is The Midsomer Series by Caroline Graham. The books are set in a small group of fictional villages in England. They reinforce my belief that you never want to live in a small town. The crimes are sometimes pretty awful, but the pace is slower and the tone is caring.
This type of mystery is done well by the British, or writers who aren’t British, but write that way. The detective is usually somewhat broken, Rebus, Inspector Banks. The crimes are ugly and may be committed by strangers, or you may know all along who committed the murder.
How the detective solves the crime and how it affects his (they are usually male) particular problems is what attracts the reader to the stories. Often the readers are fans of the detective and will read everything the author puts out. I like Peter Robinson’s Inspector Banks series.
These mysteries have amateur detectives (often women) who kind of fall into the investigation. Crimes are committed around them and they end up investigating and catching the criminal. Like a cozy, they are often set in one town and people know the killer/criminal. Often they will come with bonuses, like recipes, or handyman tips.
I like a lot of these, but my favorite is Diane Mott Davidson. Her detective, Goldy Shulz, is a caterer in a community outside Denver Colorado. She has some of the freakiest neighbors I’ve ever met in a book. They seem stuck in the 80s in dress and attitude. Along with an entertaining read, you get the recipes for everything she cooks. I’ve made a few of the cookies and they were great.
What’s your favorite type of mystery? Is there a definitive author in the genre or a specific book you’d recommend?