In cozy mysteries, amateur detectives—like Welsh monks, crossword puzzle editors, and, of course, feline sleuths—make collecting clues a page-turning adventure. When you’re craving a classic whodunit, pick up one of these mysteries from Agatha Christie, Ellis Peters, and more, and follow the breadcrumb trail along with their endearing investigators.
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The Chronicles of Brother Cadfael Series, by Ellis Peters
Ellis Peters is a pseudonym of Edith Mary Pargeter (1913-1995), a British author who’s Chronicles of Brother Cadfael are credited with popularizing the historical mystery. Cadfael, a Welsh Benedictine monk living at Shrewsbury Abbey in the first half of the 12th century, has been described as combining the curious mind of a scientist with the bravery of a knight-errant. The character has been adapted for television, and the books drew international attention to Shrewsbury and its history.
The Lord Peter Wimsey Mysteries, by Dorothy L. Sayers
One of the most beloved mystery series of all time. While working as an advertising copywriter, Dorothy L. Sayers began work on Whose Body? (1923), a mystery novel featuring dapper detective Lord Peter Wimsey. Over the next two decades, Sayers published ten more Wimsey novels and several short stories.
Crossword Mysteries, by Nero Blanc
A collection of 12 books written by a husband-and-wife duo, who go by the name Nero Blanc. Heroine Annabella Graham is a crossword puzzle editor for the Newcastle Evening Crier, and her partner in solving crime Rosco Polycrates, a private detective. The setting is Newcastle, Massachusetts. What sets these tales apart? Each novel is accompanied by crossword puzzles from the story for you to solve alongside the heroine.
Rest You Merry, by Charlotte MacLeod
The New England writer was nicknamed “America’s Agatha Christie” and penned more than 30 books in her lifetime. MacLeod’s premiere series starred Professor Peter Shandy of Balaclava Agricultural College. In this first book, we meet the cranky horticulturalist who after playing a prank on the campus one Christmas, returns to find a librarian murdered in his home.
The Yellow Room, by Mary Roberts Rinehart
Author Mary Roberts Rinehart was also compared to contemporary Agatha Christie and is credited with the phrase “the butler did it.” In this 1945 novel, twenty-four-year-old Carol Spencer has experienced tragedy beyond her youthful years. Spencer lost her fiancé in the war and spends her days caring for her ailing mother. They head to their summer home in Maine to find it completely abandoned, except for a dead body in one of the closets.
And Then There Were None, by Agatha Christie
The British author and playwright is the best-selling novelist of all time. Many of her works, including her most popular title And Then There Were None, have been turned into plays and films. Mystery surrounds eight strangers invited to an isolated island under false pretense. After dining on a lavish meal, a peculiar recording begins to play and brings to the table the accusation that each person has gotten away with murder. Until now. They begin to die off—one by one—seemingly according to the nursery rhyme “Ten Little Indians.”
Miss Silver Mysteries, by Patricia Wentworth
A retired governess re-enters the workforce as a private detective who works closely with Scotland Yard to solve London’s murders, conspiracies, mistaken identities, and more. Miss Silver’s adventures span 32 books.
The Cat Who… Mysteries, by Lilian Jackson Braun
There are 29 novels (the 30th was never published following the death of the author) featuring Qwilleran, a journalist down on his luck who becomes heir to a huge fortune, and his two Siamese cats, Koko (a helpful feline with a sixth sense for solving small town crimes) and Yum-Yum (just a cat).
Murder, She Wrote Series, by Jessica Fletcher and Donald Bain
This delightful series was inspired by the hit television series of the same name starring Angela Lansbury. Fans of the show became fast fans of the books, which keep the spirit of author/protagonist Jessica Fletcher alive. The feisty heroine juggles her day job as a successful crime fiction writer with sleuthing around in real-life investigations in her hometown of Cabot Cove, Maine, and beyond.
James the Connoisseur Cat, by Harriet Hahn
Feline fanatics will be smitten by a debonair four-legged James as was Sir Grant, a British gentleman in the fine arts business. Together they share whiskey and soon begin solving crimes, largely thanks to James’ keen intellect. James keeps mum, but has enough human behaviors and personality to make him the star of this mystery.