Mystery Series Worth Reading

If you caught our review of Susan Elia MacNeal's WWII mystery, Mr. Churchill's Secretary, a few weeks back then you'll know that A Reader's Respite just hearts this new series.  We gobbled up the second book, Princess Elizabeth's Spy and immediately moved on to the newest release, His Majesty's Hope.

Light-hearted, in a this-is-actually-serious-stuff kind of way, we were immediately reminded of how we felt about Maisie Dobbs back when Maisie was fresh and new.  MacNeal's protagonist, Maggie Hope, has a brightness and optimism to her that is contagious, despite the horror of WWII. From her beginnings in book one as secretary to a hysterical Winston Churchill, Maggie is then recruited as an MI-5 agent placed within Windsor Castle in book two.  In her most recent release, we find Maggie dropped behind enemy lines and perhaps in over her head with the Nazis. A detailed and accurate historical setting coupled with plot lines that zip right along, makes this new series one of our absolute favorites.  Highly recommended!

Have you met Ruth Galloway yet?  You should.  An archaeology professor in England, Ruth is one of the most refreshingly real protagonists we've seen on paper.  A tad dark in nature - darker than the Maggie Hope novels - the Ruth Galloway novels are some of the best on the market today if you're in the mood for a serious mystery. Our protagonist is a character you cannot help falling in love with if for nothing other than her imperfections.  Twenty five pounds overweight, never married and plagued with enough failed relationships to give up on marriage altogether, Ruth Galloway is nevertheless quite successful in her academic field.  Preferring the solitude of her own isolated home, her cats and a good book over the social scene, Ruth is one of our favorite literary characters ever to grace the pages.  The mysteries are sharply and darkly plotted while remaining quite realistic.  Don't let the five novels already published put you off - once you read the first, you'll gobble the rest up quickly.

The end of the Victorian Age in London.  Jack the Ripper has come and gone, making a mockery of London's nascent law enforcement.  Police procedural work is on the cusp of dramatic change as the science of forensics just begins to garner a following and Scotland Yard has formed The Murder Squad, a small group of detectives dedicated to solving only murders.  Author Alex Grecian began this compelling mystery series last year with the publication of The Yard, a novel that garnered quite a bit of attention and very positive reviews.  This year he follows up with The Black Country, a continuation of the series which sees our main characters sent to investigate a particularly grisly crime in the over-industrialized, ecologically destroyed area north of Birmingham.  Are you guessing that the contaminated setting provides the eerie atmosphere for this Victorian crime novel?  You'd be correct.  Grecian proves that his ability to use setting as an additional 'character' in his novels is unsurpassed.  This series is delicious.

Maggie Hope Mysteries by Susana Elia MacNeal
Copies courtesy of our local library and Random House

Ruth Galloway Mysteries by Elly Griffiths
Copies courtesy of our personal library

The Murder Squad Mysteries by Alex Grecian
Copies courtesy of Putnam Adult


  1. Evil woman! As if I don't have enough obsessions in my life! I DID get The Black Country from Penguin Audio, but I need to read The Yard first. I'm going to try to get that one on audio too. Very excited...I like that time period.

  2. Ooh, I've added the first of each series to my list -- and luckily my library has them all! Thanks for all these recommendations!

    Are you not enjoying the Maisie Dobbs books anymore?

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  4. Yay - let me know if you love any of them! Maisie has just gotten stagnant for me lately. Same ol' same ol'. And her love life, never a central issue to me, was getting irritating a teensy bit. But I also jettisoned Sookie Stackhouse for being utterly silly at this point (plus, I could never keep the plotlines straight, LOL). I do love a good series. Maybe my tastes are just changing?

  5. Don't you dare call me, who are personally responsible for 90% of the books I buy. :P I was just thinking last night that I bet the Grecian books would be lovely on audio! Let me know....I've been known to buy audio copies of the books I loved, even if I've already read the print version. (Yes, I have a problem, I know.)


Fire away!