Looking to solve a few mysteries while you’re at home this weekend? Grab one of these great British mystery series and see how many books you can marathon read in one sitting. With page-turning mysteries like these, you won’t be able to put them down. Just be sure to have your tea, scones, and clotted cream nearby.
P.D. James’s character Adam Dalgliesh has been the protagonist of 14 mystery novels. In the first novel, Cover Her Face, Dalgliesh is a Detective Chief Inspector. In later novels, he becomes Commander in the Metropolitan Police Service at New Scotland Yard in London. In addition to these mysteries being thoughtfully plotted and compelling to read, one of the major draws to this series is of course the detective character himself. Dalgliesh is a thoughtful investigator who writes poetry in his spare time.
Each mystery in this series works well as a standalone story, but it’s also fun to watch the detective’s growth throughout all 14 novels. And as an added bonus, Dalgliesh also appears as a character in P.D. James’s two novels featuring Cordelia Gray: An Unsuitable Job for a Woman and The Skull Beneath the Skin.
While author Sherry Thomas is not British herself, it doesn’t get much more British than Sherlock Holmes. And in this historical mystery series, Sherry Thomas reimagines Sherlock Holmes as a female detective working under the assumed name Sherlock. Charlotte Holmes’s detective journey begins with A Study in Scarlet Women. In this novel, Charlotte must solve a murder mystery in order to clear her family’s name. But the mysteries don’t end there.
Currently, there are four books available in the Lady Sherlock series, with the fifth book, Murder on Cold Street, expected to come out later this year.
Did you say you wanted more lady detectives? Then be sure to check out Y.S. Lee’s The Agency Series. This Victorian-era British mystery series is about a girls’ academy that’s actually a cover for an all-female detective unit called The Agency.
The first book in the series introduces readers to a young orphan and thief named Mary Quinn. When Mary is first offered an education at Miss Scrimshaw’s Academy for Girls, she thinks she’s going there to be taught manners. But soon she finds herself disguising herself as a lady’s companion to infiltrate a rich merchant’s home.
The adventures continue in subsequent novels, of course. This is a series, after all. There are currently four novels in total in this series. The most recent novel, Rivals in the City, came out in 2015.
Alan Bradley’s mystery series follows the adventures of Flavia de Luce, a precocious 11-year-old girl who loves chemistry and solving crimes. And in her small British town in the 1950s, it seems like murders are happening all the time. Thankfully, Flavia in on the case.
If you love Flavia de Luce, you’re in luck, because there are currently ten books in this series. The first one, The Sweetness at the Bottom of the Pie, was released in 2009, and the most recent one, The Golden Tresses of the Dead, came out in 2019.
If you love British mysteries, Hercule Poirot is probably a no-brainer. But just in case, I had to point out the very compelling Poirot series from the queen of mystery, Agatha Christie. Poirot is a fun detective character because of his many quirks; for instance, he’s very particular about his facial hair. In fact, Agatha Christie’s website has an entire page dedicated to the greatest moments of Poirot’s mustache. While Poirot himself is not British but rather Belgian, these books are undeniably British. The author is British, and the majority of these novels take place in the UK.
Is your goal to be a Poirot completist? You have your work cut out for you. Between 1920 and 1975, Agatha Christie wrote 33 novels, 2 plays, and more than 50 short stories featuring the detective character. Thankfully, Poirot is a fascinating character and these a fun reads, so it will be well worth your time.
But who is this character who launched a series that was never meant to happen? Dobbs is a psychologist and investigator who was a nurse during World War I. After the war, she returned to London to work with her mentor, detective Dr. Maurice Blanche. Then Blanche retired and Dobbs went on to open up her own agency. The first book follows her story as she opens up her agency and goes on her first assignment.
Another must-read author of British mysteries? Dorothy L. Sayers. And the books she’s best known for? The Lord Peter Wimsey series. Lord Peter Death Bredon Wimsey has become the archetype for the British amateur gentleman detective. Over the course of 11 novels and many short stories, Sayers wrote many mysteries for Wimsey to solve with his sidekick Bunter.
But Peter Wimsey’s story did not end with Dorothy Sayers. After Sayers’s death, author Jill Patton Walsh continued the series, written with the permission of and at the request of the estate of Dorothy L. Sayers. Walsh completed the novel Thrones, Dominations, which Sayers started in 1938 but never completed. From there, Walsh has written three Peter Wimsey novels of her own: A Presumption of Death, The Attenbury Emeralds, and The Late Scholar.
Here’s another British mystery series written by an American author, but if you can excuse G.M. Malliet’s American citizenship, this series is actually very good. Max Tudor is a former MI5 agent who leaves his violent past behind in order to become the vicar of St. Edwold’s in the idyllic village of Nether Monkslip near England’s South West coast. But even in this small village, Max can’t seem to escape murder and violence.
In the first book in the series, Wicked Autumn, Wanda Batton-Smythe, the president of the Women’s Institute, turns up dead at the Harvest Fayre. It appears to be an accidental death due to an peanut allergy, but Max Tudor suspects murder. And he thinks there are plenty of people who wanted to see her dead. There are currently seven novels in this series.
Abir Mukherjee’s Sam Wyndham series doesn’t take place in the UK. Set post-WWI, this series instead finds Captain Sam Wyndham, former Scotland Yard detective, solving crimes in British-occupied Calcutta, where he has been recruited to head up the new police force. Wyndham barely has time to acclimate to his new surroundings before he’s assigned a case: the murder of a British official. While learning to navigate through the dark underbelly of the British Raj, Wyndham also has his own person struggles: his memories of the war, his opium addiction, and the past he tried to leave behind.
Right now, you can read four novels featuring Sam Wyndham. The most recent novel, Death in the East, takes place in 1920s India and in flashbacks to a young Wyndham in London in 1905.
Can’t get enough of the mystery genre? Need more great mystery books to read? Try these 10 Mystery and Thriller Authors like Agatha Christie. Or these 6 Mystery Novels Set in Scotland.