Looking for a mystery that’s not the same old, same old? We’ve got you covered. Try one of these novels with some of the most compelling and unusual detectives in crime fiction.
The Saints of the Lost and Found by T. M. Causey
Avery Broussard is the most unusual of protagonists, a young woman who has the curse of seeing lost things—and make no mistake about it, it is a curse. Missing belongings and beloved pets, lost love and opportunity, she sees it all. Now a little girl has gone missing, and the abduction is tied to a killer that Avery’s gift failed to help the FBI catch. Avery can run from failure but can she hide?
Phoenix Burning by Isabella Maldonado
Latina homicide detective Veranda Cruz will stop at nothing to take down the Villalobos cartel. But when a wave of violence in the city escalates, she fears that the secrets of her past will take her down instead. Adolfo Villalobos is a crime boss who’s determined to stake his claim. To prove that he’s ready to run his family’s sprawling criminal empire, he devises a plan to silence his siblings and destroy Veranda, leaving a trail of destruction through downtown Phoenix that makes national headlines. Veranda believes the task force she’s been assigned to lead will end the cartel’s reign of terror, until Adolfo’s revenge takes a cruel―and highly personal―twist.
Uncorking a Lie by Nadine Nettmann
It was the kind of invitation sommelier Katie Stillwell had only dreamed about: a dinner party at the Sonoma mansion of famed wine collector Paul Rafferty to celebrate a rare bottle. Everyone enjoys drinking the $19,000 wine, but Katie realizes it’s not the vintage listed on the label. When she confides in Mr. Rafferty, he asks her to investigate, and she soon discovers the deception goes beyond money—it includes an accidental death that might just be murder. A 2018 Mary Higgins Clark finalist, every chapter in Uncorking a Lie is paired with a wine so readers can learn about new wines or perhaps bring their favorite pairing to book club.
Girl Waits with Gun by Amy Stewart
Based on the true story of one of America’s first female deputy sheriffs, Girl Waits with Gun introduces readers to 35-year-old Constance Kopp, who was forced to confront her past and defend her family in a way that few women of 1914 would have dared. Girl Waits with Gun is the first in a series, all based on Constance’s real adventures, and was a 2015 Library Reads pick. In Girl Waits with Gun, book clubs discover a family secret, watch three unmarried sisters grapple with the challenges of living as independent women in 1914, and follow Constance’s journey as she reckons with her past, stands up to a man threatening her family, and finds her true calling along the way.
Steeled for Murder by KM Rockwood
Jesse Damon is a young man who has been in prison more years than he’s been free. As Steeled for Murder begins, Jesse has been released on parole after almost twenty years on a felony murder conviction. Determined not to be a recidivism statistic, he’s found a job and a basement apartment, but is struggling with the restrictions and expenses of parole. He’s making it–until the forklift driver at the factory where he works is found dead in the warehouse. Law enforcement is too ready to believe he’s guilty of his coworker’s murder. Unless Jesse unravels the case, he will be facing the rest of his life in prison. Rockwood’s surprisingly sympathetic main character’s struggles within the justice system and his personal quest for redemption will give book clubs much to discuss.
Dodging and Burning by John Copenhaver
Inspired by the turmoil abroad and at home in post-World War II America, Dodging and Burning sheds light on the lives of those who were largely overlooked during this era: the LGBT community. Bunny, an 18-year-old society girl, Ceola, a 12-year-old tomboy, and Jay, a young gay WWII photographer, join forces to create an unusual group of amateur detectives set on tracking down the truth behind a photo Jay took of murdered woman’s body, a body that’s now missing. It’s at once a thrilling mystery that pays homage to the pulp noir of the past; a heartfelt coming-of-age story; and an enticing forbidden wartime romance, all told from the perspective of two young women growing up in rural Virginia.
Aria to Death: A Joseph Haydn Mystery by Nupur Tustin
When his friend, Kaspar, asks Joseph Haydn to authenticate his inheritance—a collection of scores reputed to be the lost operas of Monteverdi—the composer is intrigued. Then he receives a similar request from the Empress. Before Haydn can examine either set of works, Kaspar is murdered—beaten and left to die in front of a wine tavern. Could Kaspar’s bequest be genuine after all? And can Haydn find the true operas—and the man willing to kill for them? Intricate relations among characters and details about convent life, the royal court, and debates about vaccination are among the topics that provide rich fodder for discussion.
Fire and Ashes by Elaine Viets
Angela Richman, back to investigating deaths after recovering from six strokes and a coma, is tasked with investigating the deaths of a wealthy seventy-year-old businessman and his girlfriend, a seventeen-year-old Mexican-American heroin user. In both cases, in order to find the truth, Richman must push back against assumptions of guilt made by the police, prosecutor, and leaders of society.
The Angela Richman, Death Investigator series returns the prolific author to her hard-boiled roots and draws on her personal experiences as a stroke survivor, as well as her studies in the Medicolegal Death Investigators Training Course at St. Louis University’s School of Medicine.