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Whodunnit? Your Favorite Literary Detectives

hands holding magnifying glasses

December 15, 2020

When you think of a detective, what comes to mind? Do you Did you think of the detectives of old – a disheveled, forgetful Colombo-in-a-trench coat? Sherlock Holmes with a magnifying class and deerstalker cap? Or a gritty gumshoe, a la Phillip Marlowe?

When we presented this question to our patrons at the Mosinee Branch, and their answers showed us that the detectives of today are as colorful and diverse as the crimes they investigate. Here are a few of the responses we received.


Lincoln Rhyme was once a brilliant criminologist, a genius in the field of forensics — until an accident left him physically and emotionally shattered. Now a quadriplegic, Rhyme joins NYPD detective Amelia Sachs as his “hands and feet,” to solve homicidal crimes in the 14-book series, beginning with The Bone Collector. Author: Jeffrey Deaver


Chief Inspector Armand Gamache of the small Canadian town of Three Pines investigates the murders of various people in this 16-book (and counting) series, beginning with Still Life. This series is considered a kinder and gentler alternative to modern crime fiction and contains little or no sex or violence. Author: Louise Penny 


Working-class Jersey girl Stephanie Plum is a bounty hunter with an attitude. Rather than move in with her parents, she goes to work for her cousin, Vinnie, which sets her on the trail of fugitives, with many a mystery to solve along the way. This 27-book series (and counting) begins with One for the Money. Author: Janet Evanovich


Crime is never hard to find for Grace MacBride and Annie Belinsky, founders of the game software company Monkeewrench. Together with their tech genius crew, Grace and Annie lend their unique skills to the Minneapolis PD in this 10-book series beginning with Monkeewrench. Author: P.J. Tracy


Elderly Miss Jane Marple seems to solve murders while she quietly sits and knits. Her unassuming and slightly confused appearance disguises Miss Marple’s sharp insight into human nature gained through her knowledge of the goings-on in the little village of St. Mary Mead. Written by the Queen of Crime herself, this 12-book series begins with The Murder at the Vicarage. Author: Agatha Christie


Forensic archeologist Ruth Galloway is quite content with her isolated life in a remote area near Norfolk, just her and her cats. When the bones of a child are found on a deserted beach near her home, Ruth is called in by Detective Chief Inspector Nelson, as he believes the bones belong to a cold case from ten years prior, one that still haunts him to this day. When a second girl goes missing, both Ruth and Nelson find themselves racing against the clock to find the missing girl and solve the cold case, wondering if they could somehow be connected. This series is an atmospheric combination of mystery, suspense, with bits of archeology laced through the series as well. Twelve novels make up the series so far (and it is a top favorite of Sarah, the Mosinee Branch Coordinator!) Each book builds on the next, and the reader really gets to know and love the characters throughout. The series kicks off with the book The Crossing Places. Author: Elly Griffiths


There are many more famous literary detectives out there - Hercule Poirot, Kinsey Milhone, Clarice Starling, Cormoran Strike, Hannah Swensen, and Eve Dallas, just to name a few. Who's your favorite, and why? Drop us a clue in the comments!



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