Mixed-Genre Mystery Recommendations was written by Jamie Canaves and originally published in our mystery newsletter, Unusual Suspects. Sign up for it here to get mystery news, reviews, deals, and more!
I pretty much read every genre, and since mystery has always been my favorite, I love when they mingle. I’ve found it’s also a great way to expand your reading into other genres and to be able to read the same book with someone who doesn’t necessarily read the genre(s) you love. It’s like a middle ground that lets you explore a bit of more than one thing. I’m recommending some great genre-mixed mysteries this post, so get ready to add these to your TBR!
Fantasy Meets Historical Fiction Mystery:
Jackaby (Jackaby #1) by William Ritter
Sherlock with a female assistant and throw in some fantastical critters. Abigail Rook, the narrator, has run off to be an Archeologist (how dare that woman not be a proper lady!) but when her dreams don’t pan out, she finds herself working with Jackaby, a socially oblivious investigator. While Jackaby may not be super observant of social behavior, he is skillful in spotting nonhuman creatures — now if he can only convince others. Rook and Jackaby make a great team. Theirs is a serial killer mystery, and it’s fun. If fantasy isn’t usually your jam, this is set in Victorian England with only sporadic creatures, so it’s a great toe-in-the-water step into fantasy without feeling overwhelmed. It’s also the first in a series of four, so you can marathon the whole thing: Beastly Bones, Ghostly Echoes, and The Dire King. (Those covers are gorgeous!)
Chick Lit Meets Mystery:
Getting Rid of Bradley by Jennifer Crusie
When Chick Lit exploded onto the scene, I read it all. ALL. It was generally funny, fun, and centered around women, and I devoured it like candy. This book has managed to stay on my bookshelves since the ’90s — I’m an old — and I decided to give it a reread. It was as delightful as I remembered it — which honestly is all I remembered because my memory is terrible. Lucy Savage is divorcing her husband, and good riddance. Except getting rid of Bradley (ha!) isn’t solving any of her problems: her I’ll-be-a-fabulous-blonde has turned her hair funky colors; there seems to be a mix-up with Bradley’s identity; two cops keep bothering her; and it looks like someone is trying to kill her. Turns out one of those cops, the one that looks like a bad boy, has some serious sparks with Savage, which is only going to get further ignited as she’s under his protection. Oh my! I know Chick Lit gets a bad rap — as things women like tend to — but this book is fun, and ridiculous, and at the core a mystery about who Bradley is, where he went, and why someone is suddenly trying to kill Lucy Savage.
Science Fiction Meets Mystery/Thriller:
Sleeping Giants (Themis Files #1) by Sylvain Neuvel
This novel is amazing, and if you’re an audiobook reader, it’s a must in audio — all the narrators are fantastic. Told mostly through interviews and journal entries, we get the story of Rose Franklin who, as a child, was riding her bike and came across a giant metal hand. Think of discovering a gigantic dinosaur bone, except metal! Almost 20 years later, there is still not much known about this metal hand, nor where it came from. But people want, and need, to know, including Franklin, who is a physicist in charge of cracking the mystery of the hand. Everything about this book is built on not only the mystery of what and from where, but you don’t even know who the “investigators” are, which also becomes a part of the mystery. It’s a page-turning sci-fi mystery/thriller that is a hell of a ride. And since it’s set in the U.S. and doesn’t have the world building of a lot of sci-fi, it’s a great place to start if you’re overwhelmed by the genre.
Crime Meets Romance
Uptown Thief (Justice Huslers #1) by Aya de León
A fellow Rioter recommended this, and I’m so glad he did. This is a mashup crime novel and romance. It isn’t a puzzle mystery type book — instead, you follow criminals. But not your everyday criminals: these are women who are running a women’s health clinic in New York for underprivileged women. You need money to keep a clinic open, though, and funding just isn’t enough. So Marisol Rivera creates a down-low escort service that targets CEOs that want to donate to the clinic. Except she’s targeting human garbage CEOs, so her and her crew can rob them. A girl’s gotta do what a girl’s gotta do to keep helping her community…As for the romance: Rivera may finally get a shot at a real relationship when a now ex-cop she grew up with starts circling her orbit. There’s also a really nice relationship between two of the clinic workers. Also, plenty of criminal activity — including some hold-your-breath-they’re-going-to-get-caught moments.
(Trigger warning: Sexual/Domestic Abuse)