If I like Tana French I will like _______
January 17, 2019 11:59 AM   Subscribe

Looking for more women writers and/or books with women protagonists in the mystery/thriller/crime genres. Of course there's

Picked up The Tresspasser pretty much at random and loved it. Winter time is reading time, so it's time to bombard my library system with requests. It looks like the last version of this question was a few years ago, so hot new authors are especially welcome.

I've gotten through as much Sara Paretsky and Sue Grafton as I want for the time being. One thing I especially like about French is, to quote the Amazon listing/NYT review: "tough, unflinching intelligence and ingenious plotting." So, yeah, cozies are right out.

Series or standalones, either one are fine. As is possibly creeping across borders into horror/sciFi/fantasy - if you've got the woman-written equivalent of Richard K Morgan's "Altered Carbon" that'd be great. I don't really do audiobooks, for whatever that's worth.

I'm in the US with a large library system to draw upon. Non-US authors are more than welcome, although I do only read English.

Hit me!
posted by soundguy99 to Media & Arts (31 answers total) 60 users marked this as a favorite
French is a very hard act to follow but I'd recommend Laura Lippman (the standalones more than the series) and Megan Abbott. My all-time favorite mystery writer is Ruth Rendell who also writes as Barbara Vine; she does a mean standalone. Start with The Bridesmaid or The Killing Doll.

Denise Mina is great too and she has kick-ass female characters.
posted by BibiRose at 12:08 PM on January 17, 2019 [6 favorites]

I'm currently reading Phil Rickman's Merrily Watkins series and enjoying it. The protagonist is the vicar of a small, rural British town, the single mother of a teenaged daughter, and, by necessity, an amateur detective and sometime-exorcist.
posted by ryanshepard at 12:13 PM on January 17, 2019 [1 favorite]

Former law prof Alafair Burke might be worth looking into; I liked her Ellie Hatcher series (NYC cop), which starts with Dead Connection; her earlier Samantha Kincaid (Portland OR prosecutor) series less so. Her newest book, The Wife, has some good reviews and is getting picked up by Amazon for a movie, although I haven't read it.
posted by Homeboy Trouble at 12:28 PM on January 17, 2019 [2 favorites]

Robert Galbraith (JK Rowling)'s Cormoran Strike series is named after the male detective, but his female partner Robin is just as much of the story as he is, particularly as the series goes along. They're well written, fun to read procedural mysteries with great character development as well.
posted by something something at 12:29 PM on January 17, 2019 [4 favorites]

It's been a little while since I've read her, but I think Laurie King's books would fit your needs. She has a series called Russell and Holmes where the books are written in the style of a memoir by Sherlock's female mentee, Mary Russell. Those are great, but I'm a particularly big fan of her stand-alone books like A Darker Place and Folly.
posted by wuzandfuzz at 12:59 PM on January 17, 2019 [6 favorites]

Give Kate Morton a try. She's not a mystery writer, but I love her writing style almost as much as I love that of Tana French. Also, I second the recommendation of Laurie R. King.
posted by silverandlilac at 1:15 PM on January 17, 2019 [1 favorite]

Nicola Griffith's Aud books!
posted by prewar lemonade at 1:19 PM on January 17, 2019 [2 favorites]

Seconding Laura Lippman, especially "What the Dead Know" which owned me the the three days it took me to read it. And also agree the standalones are better than the series.
posted by Aquifer at 1:25 PM on January 17, 2019 [1 favorite]

SJ (Sharon) Bolton is the most like Tana French I've read.
posted by mmw at 1:28 PM on January 17, 2019 [3 favorites]

I've been really enjoying Elizabeth Moon's Vatta's War series. It's definitely sci-fi but also quite thrilling.
posted by teremala at 1:42 PM on January 17, 2019 [1 favorite]

You mentioned two of my favorite authors so I'll give it a go:
The Nicci French Frieda Klein series (most Nicci French is more or less on my "guilty pleasure" shelf, but I really love the Frieda Klein series and the first Nicci French book The Memory Game, which is awesome).
Jane Casey's Maeve Kerrigan series
Sharon (SJ) Bolton's Lacey Flint series
I'm assuming you've read The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo, but if not, all of those.
posted by biscotti at 1:44 PM on January 17, 2019 [1 favorite]

The Jackson Brodie books by Kate Atkinson are fantastic!

I also recommend Sarah Waters. Maybe start with Affinity?
posted by bluedaisy at 1:55 PM on January 17, 2019 [3 favorites]

I also love Tana French and I would recommend Carol O'Connell who is criminally unsung in my book. She has a couple of stand alones but the bulk of her books are the Mallory series. Mallory is a NYC detective who was a street orphan taken in by an older NYC detective and his wife. She's also a sociopath. Really strong characters and interesting plots. Highly recommend.
posted by Bresciabouvier at 1:58 PM on January 17, 2019 [5 favorites]

Australian author P.M. Newton has two excellent mysteries, The Old School and Beams Falling. Great setting, interesting cultural stuff, and pretty gritty.
posted by cowcreamer at 2:12 PM on January 17, 2019 [1 favorite]

Try Elizabeth George’s Detective Lynsey series. The early ones especially are so good!
posted by lyssabee at 2:20 PM on January 17, 2019 [2 favorites]

Roberta gellis wrote a medieval series set in a brothel.
posted by brujita at 2:33 PM on January 17, 2019 [1 favorite]

I can vouch for Alafair Burke, especially her two recent ones, The Wife and The Ex.
posted by BibiRose at 2:39 PM on January 17, 2019 [1 favorite]

Right now I'm liking Carmen Amato and Toby Neal books featuring women detectives. Amato's Emilia Cruz series is based in Acapulco and Neal's Lei Crime novels in Hawaii.
posted by fuse theorem at 2:40 PM on January 17, 2019 [1 favorite]

I have enjoyed the Inspector Gamache series by Louise Penny. I am currently reading the thirteenth book of the series. The person who suggested these to me also really likes Tana French.

The protagonist is a man but there are several strong female characters involved in each book. The action takes place in Quebec. The early books are centered around a small town near the US border but as the series progresses, the action goes further afield. I have recommended this to several people who are now reading the books and liking them.
posted by narancia at 3:28 PM on January 17, 2019 [2 favorites]

I think you might really love Disquiet by Julia Leigh. It won the Shirley Jackson award the year it came out and has stuck with me since I read it 2014. Unsparing is the word that comes to mind.
posted by minervous at 5:16 PM on January 17, 2019 [1 favorite]

Nth-ing Laura Lippman.

I’ll also recommend Cornelia Read.
posted by Kriesa at 6:51 PM on January 17, 2019 [2 favorites]

Seconding Louis Penny; adding PD James.
posted by lalex at 6:58 PM on January 17, 2019 [1 favorite]

I'll recommend The Dry by Jane Harper. Leads into a series but can be easily read as a standalone novel.
posted by arha at 1:39 AM on January 18, 2019 [1 favorite]

(another Sue Grafton fan) I recently read my first Tana French (The Witch Elm) and could kick myself for not getting round to her sooner but delighted to know that I have the Dublin series to come.

The authors I've also loved for their intelligence and for getting inside people's heads are:

- Belinda Bauer (start with Snap then read her back catalog)
- Lisa Jewell
- Kate Atkinson (I start Transcription this weekend, can't wait) (if you've seen any of the BBC adaptation and found them wanting, ignore that and read the books, they're hugely better)
- Jane Harper's Aaron Falk series (just 2 so far)
- Dublin Trilogy by Caimh McDonnell (male author and protagonist but without spoilers, strong women are very visible)
- The Woman in the Window by AJ Finn
- Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine by Gail Honeyman
posted by humph at 5:32 AM on January 18, 2019 [1 favorite]

I'm seconding The Dry by Jane Harper, as well as her second book (though it's maybe 10% less good, but still good). Good plot, very foreboding. She doesn't remind me of Tana French, exactly, as the writing style is different, but it's well-written and has some of the psychological sophistication of Tana French.

Also give Dervla McTiernan's The Ruin a try. She's Irish, like French. The book has some of the darkness that French's can, and also that same sense of the mystery evolving out of the characters' full life stories. CW, as you learn in an early chapter, for child physical and sexual abuse (though you never see any scenes in which it takes place; mentions of it are generally abstract).
posted by slidell at 6:08 AM on January 18, 2019 [1 favorite]

Also, Winter's Bone has a female protagonist.

You could also check out Sarah Gran's Claire DeWitt stories.
posted by slidell at 7:26 AM on January 18, 2019 [2 favorites]

Seconding Claire DeWitt series!
posted by narancia at 8:26 AM on January 18, 2019 [2 favorites]

The Flight Attendant by Chris Bohjalian might fit the bill. Male author, but female protagonist. Thriller/mystery.
posted by lukez at 10:16 AM on January 18, 2019 [1 favorite]

Seconding Elizabeth George and Carol O'Connell. Kathy Reichs is also pretty great. Ignore the connection to the TV show Bones--other than the name of the main character and the profession of forensic anthropology, they have nothing to do with each other. The novel Temperance Brennan is middle aged, complicated, grumpy, and brilliant. Deja Dead is the first one--I would just start there and keep going.
posted by hydropsyche at 3:05 PM on January 18, 2019 [1 favorite]

It's hard, because I really think Tana French is in a league of her own. Nicola Griffith is definitely a good suggestion, not just the Aud books but also some of her work in other genres, like the historical novel Hild. And I'd add to the recommendation of Laurie King by suggesting her lesser-known Kate Martinelli series, especially the first book, A Grave Talent (the rest are good, too, but with declining returns imo). Donna Tartt doesn't quite do it for me, but a lot of my fellow French fans love her books, so they might be worth a try.
posted by karayel at 12:29 AM on January 19, 2019 [1 favorite]

*cue the sound of merry humming as I wander through the halls of my library and/or click the "hold for checkout" button on the web.*

You all are just marvelous, I've got a fresh pile of books in my living room and my sweatpants and ratty comfortable T shirt on and I'm ready to rock for a while.

Thanks to all and cheers!
posted by soundguy99 at 4:00 PM on February 19, 2019 [2 favorites]

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