It’s that time of year. Time to pull out your comfy slippers, make a cup of tea and enjoy some murder and mayhem from the safety of your cozy home. Fall is my favorite time of year to read mysteries, especially ones that make full use of the weather both fair and foul. Listed below are some perfect picks for you to get your fall mystery reading started. I am now on Goodreads so you can friend me there for more recommendations or to recommend something to me.
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Book One in the Ruth Galloway series, we again visit the remote coast of Norfolk for the discovery of a child’s body in the Saltmarsh. Forensic archeologist Ruth Galloway is called in to determine the age of the body.
I really enjoyed the history and mythology included in this mystery because it educated me in areas I wasn’t well versed in. I also like how authentic Ruth Galloway is as a person. She lives alone in a desolate area by choice because that is where her passion lies. The atmosphere makes this is a wonderful fall/winter read. I also made notes on what kind of parent not to be based on the messages Ruth gets from her mother on her voice mail.
The village of Wychwood under Ashe has had a plague of untimely deaths and retired policeman Luke Fitzwilliam is brought into the fray by an old lady who suspects murder. At first he thinks it is an old lady’s imagination run wild but when she turns up dead just before going to Scotland Yard, he decides to do some investigating of his own.
One of my favorite things about Murder Is Easy is the motive and how it is played out, which I shall not reveal of course. Also, Fitzwilliam is a refreshing addition to the list of detectives Agatha Christie created. He is a little bit of Hastings (a romantic), a little bit of Superintendent Battle (methodical) and a touch of Tommy Beresford (up for pretending to be someone he isn’t).
A historical mystery set in Elizabethan times during the Conjunction of Jupiter and Saturn. Giordano Bruno, an excommunicated monk turned spy, navigates the deadly waters of two opposing monarchs: Queen Elizabeth I and Mary, Queen of Scots.
Parris incorporates actual historical events and people into her plot along with authentic descriptions of well-known buildings in the Elizabethan time period. If you are into astrology and royal intrigue, this mystery could be right up your alley.
The body of Jane Neal, local artist and retired school teacher, is found in the woods in the village of Three Pines. What a perfect name for a village. Chief Inspector Gamache is called in to investigate what looks like a terrible accident but really turns out to be murder. Penny sets the scene nicely for us with a classic village backdrop and locals of both the conventional and peculiar variety. Because this is set near Montreal you get the Quebecois mixed in with English giving you a nice feeling that you are reading a bilingual novel and that you are really clever.
Commander Adam Dalgliesh takes time off from his job at Scotland Yard to settle his aunt’s estate in a remote area on the Norfolk coast. Fortunately for us he ends up finding a body on the beach and helping the police look for a serial killer called the Whistler. Several people could have wanted the victim dead so was it really the work of the Whistler? There is a good mix of suspense, environmental controversy with the nuclear power plant hovering over everyone and foul fall weather that will make you feel warm and cozy as you read this with your afternoon tea.
The 10th book in the Royal Spyness series sends Lady Georgiana Rannoch off to Ireland to help Darcy O’Mara clear his father of murder. I have read the entire series and I have to say I was so happy she had somewhere to stay immediately. Her chronic homelessness (I use the term loosely) actually causes me great anxiety in every book and sometimes I am more relieved when she settles in somewhere than when she solves the murder.
This mystery is packed with bad weather, eccentric characters and great food descriptions. A perfect trifecta for fall reading.
Set in the 12th century, a Welsh Benedictine monk named Brother Cadfael investigates the murder of priestly emissary from King Stephen. The burned body is found in the woods by an over-enthusiastic novice who recently arrived at Shrewsbury Abbey. When everyone seems ready to accuse the new novice of the crime, Cadfael takes it upon himself to discover the true identity of the murderer.
If fall makes you miss the halcyon days of academia, Gaudy Night will be right up your alley. The longest of all the Lord Peter Wimsey mysteries, Sayers surrounds you in the world of Oxford with vivid architectural descriptions, Latin quotations and literary references scattered throughout. If your higher education wasn’t quite like Harriet’s you can live vicariously through her while you uncover a malicious anonymous letter-writer who is terrorizing the students and staff.
For fans who enjoy the Wimsey and Vane dynamic there isn’t a lot to latch onto until the last third of book. Gaudy Night is about 95% Harriet Vane and 5% Lord Peter with his role occurring primarily at the end. The resolution of their relationship is satisfying and worth the wait.
Although this is considered a “cozy” mystery, there is plenty of suspense and danger that will keep you turning the pages. Set in the fictional college town of Sudbury Falls, amateur sleuth Kay Driscoll takes it upon herself to investigate a murder that was determined to be accidental. Armed with the recklessness and curiosity one needs to become an amateur sleuth, Driscoll tackles the investigation head on with her two besties and a patisserie headquarters to die for. Throw in some city-wide corruption and Halloween costumes and you have a fall winner.
You can read my full review of Wicked Autumn here.
I am including an additional Christie novel in this fall mystery book round-up because it is one of my absolute favorite mysteries from Christie, it takes place in the fall and instead of starting with a murder the novel actually heads towards the murder (Towards Zero Hour) chapter by chapter. The twist at the end is wonderful and I never tire of rereading it.
I decided to read this book after I discovered that the movie Gosford Park (one of my favorites) was inspired somewhat by this novel. If you are interested at all in the Downton Abbey way of life, this novel gives you a detailed look into the machinations of running an estate that include the rituals of the hunt, managing the gentlemen and keeping the ladies fashionable. Read this and then by all means watch Gosford Park.
What are some of your favorite fall books? Any other mysteries to recommend to me? Let me know in the comments below.