When Words Collide/Traditional Mysteries Author List
When Words Collide is a genre writing convention, held each August in Calgary, Alberta, Canada. For more information on next year’s convention, visit http://www.whenwordscollide.org/index.php.
One of the panel at the 2013 convention was on what’s changing in the world of traditional mysteries (sometimes also called cozy mysteries). Here is a follow-up list of traditional/cozy mysteries for further reading.
All authors are listed alphabetically by first name in each category.
Author (protagonist) — short blurb
Agatha Christie (Hercule Poirot; Miss Marple; Tommy and Tuppance) — there’s a reason the Malice Domestic awards are called The Agathas. She didn’t invent cozy mysteries, but she made them a mainstay in mystery reading.
Dorothy L. Sayers (Peter Whimsey; Harriet Vane) — not as completely in the traditional style as Dame Agatha, but very, very good.
Ngiao Marsh (Rodryck Alleyn; Agatha Troy) — I include her series even though Rodryck works for Scotland Yard; he’s another gentleman detective.
My Personal Favorites
• Andrew M. Greeley (Bishop Blackie Ryan) — Chicago priest solves murders
• Donna Andrews (Meg Landsow) — A decorative blacksmith, as opposed to a farrier, tries to survive her wacky family while she solves murders.
• Earlene Fowler (Bennie Harper, Gabriel Ortez) A young California ranch widow falls in love with, and marries, a Latino-Anglo chief of police. I also like her Mercy duo, which is set in the same place, but with different characters.
• Kate Charles (Callie Anson) — A newly-ordained Anglical decon is pitted against a variety of people who still think women should not be ordained.
• Margaret Maron (Judge Deborah Knott) — a bootleggers daughter is now a judge in North Carolina.
• Mark de Castrique (Sam Blackman) — an Iraq veteran investigates murders in Asheville, North Carolina.
• Sharon Fiffer (Jane Wheel) — a picker, someone who trolls garage and estate sales buying items to resell to antique dealers, also solves murders.
• Susan Whittig Albert (three series) — China Bayles, set in Texas; two late Edwardian detectives in England; and Beatrix Potter, the Edwardian author solve murders.
• Vicky Lane (Elizabeth Goodweather) — set in the mountains of western North Carolina, each book contains two intersecting plots, one happening in present day and one in the past.
• Victoria Thompson (Sara Brandt and Frank Malloy) — A midwife and Irish police officer in 1890s New York work together to solve crimes and build lives for themselves that are outside of what society expects.
Genre Benders (Authors I consider traditional, in spite of breaking the mold.)
• Jane Haddam (Gregor Demarkian and the residents of Cavanaugh Street in Philadelphia) --As the series progressed, the characters travelled far from Cavanaugh street and the books became very dark. But the early books, in my opinion, fit firmly in the traditional genre.
• Kerry Greenwood (Phryne Fisher) — delectable, world-travelling British heroine in the 1920s leaves the tedium of Britian behind for Australia. Explicit sex scenes, like really explicit.
• Martin Walker (Bruno Courreges) — A rural French Police Chief discovers that the murder of an Arab man has deep roots in both France during World War II and the present multi-cultural France. Excellent example of a noir traditional mystery.
• Rex Stout (Nero Wolfe and Archie Goodwin) — a very opinionated detective solves crimes without leaving his New York City townhouse.
Other strong traditional writers
• Aaron Elkins (Chris Norgren) — art curator solves mysteries in the art world.
• Ann Graiger (4 traditional series, all set in Britain) — small villages, familiar characters, etc.
• Anne Littlewood (Iris Oakley) — zookeeper solves murder.
• Barbara Colley (Charlotte LaRue) — older cleaning woman helps her policeman son solve murders.
• C.C. Bennison (two series) — Jane Bee works for Queen Elizabeth II as a cleaning woman; Tom Christmas is a widowed minister, trying to make a new life for himself and his daughter.
• Carolyn Haines (Sarah Booth Delaney) — gal pals, murder, and Civil War ghosts in southern Mississippi
• Charles Finch (Charles Lenox) — Sherlock Holmes-like character meets Nero Wolfe-like character in a Victorian gentlemanly atmosphere.
• Deb Baker (Gretchen Birch) — doll house builder solves murders. One of a substantial number of mysteries with heroines who do arts and crafts. Patterns and craft tips usually included.
• Emily Toll: pen name for Taffy Cannon (Lynn Montgomery) — mother and daughter at odds with each other, but manage to solve murders. Taffy Cannon writes several other series.
• Frances Brody (Kate Shackleton) — British theatre world of the 1920s and 30s. Quirky characters with dark undertones.
• Janice Kaplan (Lacy Fields) — real estate agent in Hollywood keeps discovering bodies.
• Jennifer Apodaca (Samantha Shaw) — single mom runs a dating agency and is learning to be a private investigator.
• Joan Hess (two series, both set in Arkansas) — My personal preference is for the Claire Malloy series more than the Maggoty series. Claire runs a bookstore, raises a teen-age daughter, and solves murders.
• Joyce Kreig (Shauna J. Bogart) — A San Francisco radio personality solves murders.
• Judy Alter (Skeleton in a Dead Space) — Fort Worth real estate agent solves murders.
• Kate Gallison (Mother Lavinia Grey) — Episcopalian vicar solves murders.
• Katherine Page Hall (Faith Fairchild) — caterer, mother, and minister’s wife solves murders. One of a huge number of traditional mysteries dealing with cooks, caterers, and food. Recipes usually included.
• Mark Richard Zubro (Tom and Scott series) — two partners solve murders.
• Nancy Atherton (Aunt Dimity) — American woman moves to Britian after inheriting a cottage and a strange legacy from a woman who knew her mother during World War II.
• R.K. Beck (Alice Jordon) — goings on, including murder, at a dying classical music radio station.
• Sara Rosett (Ellie Avery) — An Air Force wife and mother solves murders.
• Sarah Atwell (Emmeline Dowell) — Glassblower solves murders. One of a huge number of traditional mysteries dealing with women who own small businesses.
• Sharon Pape (Rory McCain) — A police sketch artist inherits her uncle's house, complete with the ghost of a 1870s federal marshall, who helps her solve murders.
• Susan Kandel (Cece Caruso) — a Hollywood biographer writes about mystery writers and television shows while she solves murders.
• Carolyn Hart (Ann and Max Darling) — South Carolina bookstore owner and inquistive husband solve murders on their small vacation-destination island. Also has (I think) three other series.
• Jeff Cohen (Elliott Freede) — Film buff tries to run a movie house while solving murders.
• Lilian Jackson Braun (James Qwilleran, KoKo and Yum Yum) — cats solve murders.
• M. C. Beaton (six series) — my personal favorite, Hamish MacBeth. A Scottish constable in a small rural community solves murders while trying to keep up with all the shenanigans going on in his area. I loved Robert Carlyle's role as Hamish in the TV series.
• Mary Jane Maffini (Charlotte Adams) — a personal organizer solves murders.
• Mary Kennedy (Maggie Walsh) — Radio talk-show host solves murders.
• Mary Lou Kirwin (Karen Nash) — Small town librarian gets jilted and goes to England.
• Nancy Martin (Roxy Abruzzo) — plays being a mobster’s daughter for laughs.
• Toni Kellenor (Tilda Harper) — A reporter doing “Where are they now?” articles deals uncovers murders along with material for her articles.