Mystery novels to distract me
June 23, 2018 9:27 PM   Subscribe

Hit me with some well written, page turning mysteries. All sub genres welcome but queer, POC centered, women, or genre bending especially of interest.

Mysteries I still remember enjoying years later: Lawrence Block (Scudder and Rhodenbar), Sarah Paretsky, Paco Ignacio Taibo, Jo Walton's Farthing... So straight ahead mysteries and mysteries in service of doing something else are all good, but immersive, light, page turning and well written required.
posted by latkes to Media & Arts (25 answers total) 58 users marked this as a favorite
Laurie R. King Kate Martinelli series, lesbian cop in San Francisco

Dana Stabenow, Kate Shugak series, Native American private detective in Alaska

Eliot Pattison, Inspector Shan Tao Yun series, Chinese detective in Tibet

All links are to the website Stop, You're Killing Me which has mysteries indexed by jobs, locations, and diversity (POC/LGBT/disability)
posted by Daily Alice at 9:48 PM on June 23, 2018 [5 favorites]

You need every book by Kate Milford.
posted by Temeraria at 9:54 PM on June 23, 2018

The Rivers of London series. POC detective, and genre bending.
posted by The corpse in the library at 10:03 PM on June 23, 2018 [6 favorites]

Thus Was Adonis Murdered, by Sarah Caudwell, and Lock In, by John Scazli, are both very good and amusing mysteries with an added twist that the detectives' genders aren't specified.
posted by The corpse in the library at 10:10 PM on June 23, 2018 [1 favorite]

Jo Walton's Farthing owes a large debt to the mysteries of Peter Dickinson. They may be too traditional-English style (in certain ways only) to be what you're looking for, but they're very very good. I'd recommend Play Dead, The Lively Dead, King and Joker, The Seventh Raven, and Some Deaths Before Dying, which all have female protagonists (ranging in age from 13 to 90-something).
posted by huimangm at 11:25 PM on June 23, 2018 [1 favorite]

The newest Nicola Griffith novel, So Lucky, is amazing and will tick all your boxes. It's a mystery-thriller that features a kickass queer protagonist with a disability (multiple sclerosis). It's a fast & compelling read — I finished it in a day.

Griffith's Aud Torvingen novels are also great (mystery trilogy with lots of lesbian romance and a capable, physically powerful woman protagonist).
posted by fire, water, earth, air at 11:34 PM on June 23, 2018 [3 favorites]

I love Tana French. Her most recent novel, The Trespasser, has a female POC narrator.
posted by Wantok at 1:23 AM on June 24, 2018 [4 favorites]

Murder Most Unladylike by Robin Stevens is the first in a series of detective novels set in a 1920s girls’ boarding school (but written recently). The detectives are a girl from Hong Kong, who is the narrator as she writes everything up in their casebook, and her bossy blonde friend, who decided they would form a detective agency in the first place. I’ve not yet read the other books, but I found this one very well-observed and light without being frothy.
posted by daisyk at 4:38 AM on June 24, 2018 [1 favorite]

Seconding Rivers of London. Mixed-race Black British male protagonist, and most all of the supporting cast is diverse in one way or another. It's smart, fun, and definite page turner-- I recommended it to one (fast-reading) friend who blazed through five books of the series in a week while working a full time job.

If you're looking for escapism from current events, USian or otherwise, the Farthing books may be a little Too Real, because they deal with an AU where the Nazis never lost WWII. Walton can W R I T E, and the first in the series is a particularly outstanding example of the British country estate cozy mystery crossed with alternate history, but. Yeah.
posted by joyceanmachine at 5:10 AM on June 24, 2018 [2 favorites]

Three Bags Full by Leonie Swann was delightful and I've been recommending it to lots of people.

A herd of sheep (led by a ewe named Miss Maple) try to figure out who killed their beloved shepherd.
posted by belladonna at 5:22 AM on June 24, 2018 [4 favorites]

It sometimes feels like I am the only person who has ever heard of Carol O'Connell and her Mallory series since I never see her recommended but they are fantastic. Mallory is a NYC detective who was rescued from the streets as a homeless child by another detective who became her surrogate father. She is also a sociopath, yet her close relationships with the other characters are a big part of the story. The series starts with Mallory's Oracle and there are now twelve books in the series. Please read them so I don't feel alone in the world!
posted by Bresciabouvier at 5:46 AM on June 24, 2018 [4 favorites]

I enjoyed Laura Lippman's latest Sunburn quite a lot; if noir is up your alley, Lippman does some interesting things with the femme fatale trope.
posted by the primroses were over at 5:55 AM on June 24, 2018 [1 favorite]

Anything by Attica Locke
posted by Morpeth at 6:07 AM on June 24, 2018

"The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo" series fits a couple of your needs. Wonderful books.
posted by james33 at 6:36 AM on June 24, 2018

Vaseem Khan has a written a series of mystery novels set in modern day India collectively titled "The Baby Ganesh Agency mysteries".

They feature a retired Indian police detective, Inspector Chopra, and a young elephant named Ganesh, as his unlikely side-kick.

There are five books in the series so far (four full length novels, and one novella), and they are a delight!
posted by Hanuman1960 at 7:51 AM on June 24, 2018 [1 favorite]

nthing the Kate Shugak mystery series by Dana Stabenow (which I am currently re-reading).

Miss Fisher Murder Mysteries series by Kerry Greenwood, up to 20 books now, 1920s Melbourne, rich lady detective whose best friend is a lesbian physician, very witty and frothy but strong on culture problems.
posted by MovableBookLady at 8:26 AM on June 24, 2018 [2 favorites]

Elizabeth Peters wrote three series of mysteries starring female detectives: Egyptologist Amelia Peabody, art historian Vicky Bliss, and librarian Jacqueline Kirby. I've read the whole Peabody series and about half the Bliss books, and enjoyed them very much.
posted by The Underpants Monster at 9:21 AM on June 24, 2018 [1 favorite]

Response by poster: Thanks all, these are great so far, and more suggestions welcome. I ordered 5 from the library to start... Will report back!
posted by latkes at 3:21 PM on June 24, 2018

If you want queer women and genre bending, it'd be harder to get more of any of them than The Monkey's Mask by Dorothy Porter. It is, as the first comment on Goodreads describes it, "an Australian lesbian erotic murder mystery written in verse."

Winter's Bone by Daniel Woodrell is a fantastic mystery whose main character is a queer woman. Nicola Griffith's books have already been brought up, but Slow River hasn't been specifically mentioned; it is less a straight-up mystery than some of her other works, but it's a sci-fi novel with a lot of mystery elements (and again, queer women main characters) and is one of the best books I've ever read.
posted by kyrademon at 4:26 PM on June 24, 2018 [1 favorite]

Seconding Tana French, Laura Lippman, and Carol O’Connell. I’ll add Cornelia Read’s Madeline Dare series.
posted by Kriesa at 5:53 PM on June 24, 2018

I also enjoyed Carole Nelson Douglas's books featuring Irene Adler as a Holmes-style detective.
posted by The Underpants Monster at 8:39 PM on June 24, 2018

I just want you to know that on the recommendation of this thread, I bought and read in its entirety Three Bags Full yesterday, and am now sad that the sequel and the author's other work haven't been translated.
posted by joyceanmachine at 8:16 AM on June 25, 2018 [2 favorites]

"The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo" series fits a couple of your needs. Wonderful books.
posted by james33 at 9:36 AM on June 24 [+] [!]

A lot of graphic description of all kinds of different sexual violence perpetrated on women in this one unlike the others on this list which are more just fun mysteries. Like the point of the books for this author was to write graphic scenes of sexual violence and then long boring chapters full of actuarial tables and geneaology. Not what I would call light.

Nthing Rivers of London

I'm enjoying A Study in Scarlet: The Lady Sherlock Series which is an AU Sherlock Holmes book where she's a non-neurotypical woman using a male penname/ identity to solve mysteries. Sherry Thomas
posted by edbles at 10:50 AM on June 25, 2018 [3 favorites]

'My Name is Red' by Orhan Pamuk is an unusual historical murder mystery that bends some genres.
posted by ovvl at 5:13 PM on June 25, 2018

Response by poster: OK, just looping back to share what I've enjoyed so far:

Laurie R. King (on my second one now)
Rivers of London (listened on audiobook which was a good way I think)
Three Bags Full was surprisingly successful
I had read some of the other recommendations already and will keep working my way through the rest!
posted by latkes at 8:29 PM on October 1, 2018

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