Traditional Mysteries

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

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.

Click here for a .pdf of this information to download.

All authors are listed alphabetically by first name in each category.

Author (protagonist) — short blurb

The classics

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.