Thrillers and mystery novels have enjoyed a resurgence of popularity in recent years and with that has come a crop of really unconventional, unreliable and truly interesting protagonists. From Robert Langdon to Flavia de Luce, these problem solvers are often thrust into the action without warning and must get to the bottom of things themselves—sometimes as the lead suspect as well as the lead investigator.
But as part of this whodunit renaissance, we’ve also seen a return of the detective—traditional in her role if not in her methods. These are the Private Eyes, the sleuths—and sometimes even the police—whose task it is see the signs that others miss and catch the criminal no one else can. Today’s detective novels are a broody nod to the classics with a modern understanding of what readers expect in a great mystery.
So go ahead and become an armchair detective along with these five gumshoes.
The Murder Pit (An Arrowood Mystery) by Mick Finlay
Sherlock Holmes may be whom the British gentry call on to solve their tidy mysteries, but if you want someone who can handle the grittier problems in late-Victorian South London, you’re going to want to call on William Arrowood. When the private detective and his trusty assistant are tasked with a missing persons case that turns out to be anything but simple, they won’t stop until they’ve solved the crime—even if it means getting their hands a little dirty.
Lethal White (Cormoran Strike) by Robert Galbraith
Cormoran Strike is back, trying to put together a puzzle rife with missing pieces that begins with a plea to help solve a crime a man believes he witnessed as a child. With Robin Ellacott now Strike’s full partner in crime-solving (their personal partnership remains tricky), the two travel from London to a manor house in the countryside—and into a complicated political intrigue that powerful figures are determined to keep hidden.
The Black Ascot (Inspector Ian Rutledge) by Charles Todd
When Ian Rutledge gets a tip from an ex-convict that could shed new light on a notorious unsolved case, he brings it to his superiors at Scotland Yard, who put Rutledge in charge of finding the Black Ascot murderer—with very little faith that he can actually get the job done. Undeterred, Rutledge wades back into the fateful events of 1910 and the horse race that ended in murder. This time, Rutledge is sure the Yard can take this crime past the finish line.
She Lies in Wait by Gytha Lodge
This gripping police procedural introduces us to DCI Jonah Sheens, who must solve a cold case in his hometown when the body of a teenager that disappeared thirty years earlier is discovered. Now Sheens must question his old classmates and confront a past none of them wanted to revisit.
The Mobster’s Lament (City Blues) by Ray Celestin
Music, murder, history and mystery—this crime novel has it all, including former Pinkerton detective Ida Davis (and her friend, Louis Armstrong), New York gangsters and a killing spree that hides a dark conspiracy. Mid-century noir for readers that want a new spin on a classic style of detective fiction.