Women’s History Month: Recommendations of Women (and Men) in Crime Fiction, From Women in Crime Fiction

-Post by Molly

March is Women’s History Month, so at the beginning of the month, I reached out to many of my favorite female authors writing in crime fiction today for some thoughts and recommendations. Jamie Mason, Meg Gardiner, Ausma Zehanat Khan, Megan Abbott, and Lori Rader-Day all sent replies along, posted earlier this month (Mason’s response posted separately), and now we bring you some of their amazing recommendations. Not all the authors listed below are currently in print (although some soon return to print), and this is certainly not an exhaustive list of all the best crime writers today (a virtually impossible task). I’ve added quite a few of the following to my “to read” list. Enjoy!

monday's lieJamie Mason Recommends…

Classic Authors:

  • Josephine Tey
  • Dorothy Sayers
  • Daphne du Maurier
  • Patricia Highsmith
  • Agatha Christie

Second Wave Authors:

  • Ruth Rendell
  • PD James
  • Patricia Cornwell
  • Mary Higgins Clark
  • Sue Grafton
  • Kathy Reichs

Contemporary Authors:

  • Gillian Flynn
  • Tana French
  • Laura Lippman
  • Megan Abbott
  • Tess Gerritsen
  • Kate Atkinson
  • Lisa Lutz
  • Mo Hayder
  • Sara Paretsky

phantom instinct

Meg Gardiner Recommends…

Classic Authors:

  • Agatha Christie
  • Mary Shelley (as innovator of suspense fiction)
  • Patricia Highsmith

the unquiet deadAusma Zehanat Khan Recommends…

Classic Authors:

  • Ngaio Marsh
  • Dorothy L. Sayers (and the Jill Paton Walsh continuation of the Wimsey/Vane series)

Contemporary Authors:

  • Deborah Crombie
  • Imogen Robertson
  • Charles Finch
  • Charles Todd
  • Alan Bradley
  • Louise Penny
  • Susan Hill
  • Ariana Franklin
  • Anna Dean
  • Martha Grimes
  • Morag Joss
  • C. S. Harris
  • Stephanie Barron
  • Laurie R. King
  • Laura Joh Rowland
  • Elizabeth George
  • Peter May (in particular, The Blackhouse)
  • the late, great Reginald Hill

feverMegan Abbott Recommends…

The following books are soon to appear in the Library of America’s collection Women Crime Writers: Eight Suspense Novels of the 1940s & 50s, edited by Sarah Weinman

  • Dorothy B. Hughes’s In A Lonely Place
  • Vera Caspary’s Laura
  • Elizabeth Sanxay Holding’s The Blank Wall
  • Margaret Millar’s Beast In View

the black hourLori Rader-Day Recommends…

Classic Authors:

  • Lois Duncan
  • Agatha Christie
  • Mary Higgins Clark

Contemporary Authors:

  • Tana French
  • Catriona McPherson
  • Denise Mina
  • Clare O’Donohue
  • Sara Gran
  • Gillian Flynn
  • Alan Bradley
  • James Ziskin



It’s an honor to introduce you to new voices to our MysteryPeople blog. One was my mentor in the mystery business and is one of those rare people that has even a darker taste than me. The other was a former customer of mine, who recently became a employee at BookPeople and holds one of the sharpest minds about the genre. I asked them to introduce themselves:

Bobby McCue

I dove into the mystery world in 1980 as a reader and a collector. In 2000, I started working at The Mystery Bookstore in Los Angeles and became the manager in 2004. The store was sold  in 2009 and in 2011 the new owners closed the store. A lot of authors passed through the comfy confines in those 10 years.  The nickname “Dark Bobby” was thrust upon me from multiple people for my leanings toward the dark and hard-boiled side of crime fiction.

Staples on my recommendation shelf were:
Dope by Sara Gran
Birdman byMo Hayder
Jolie Blon’s Bounce by James Lee Burke
Winter’s Bone by Daniel Woodrell
Pike by Benjamin Whitmer

My favorite book of 2013 was Others of My Kind by James Sallis

Molly Odintz

My name is Molly, I started working at BookPeople rather recently, and I’m a mystery-holic. In particular, I enjoy everything hard-boiled and noir and am a discerning consumer of procedurals and thrillers. I ascribe to a Hobbesian view of the world, which means I like my mysteries, for the most part, to be nasty, brutal and short. My taste gravitates towards the socially aware and on occasion historical, and I am a sucker for a well-researched period piece. Many of my favorite noir novels won’t be found necessarily in the mystery section, as I deeply enjoy crossovers into Sci-Fi and fantasy. I love reading detective novels, but I also love analyzing them, so if you ever want to get highbrow about the lowbrow, I’m your man. The myriad variations within the detective novel conventions eternally fascinate me.

You can look for me in the store for recommendations and look out for my posts online as well – I am launching two blog series, each monthly, one of which will focus on international crime writing and the other of which will profile the more socially aware books and authors represented on our shelves.

We are excited to have two new contributors to the MysteryPeople blog. June has already been incredible month and there is still more to come. Be sure to stay up-to-date with the MysteryPeople Crime Fiction Fest, and always have your alibi ready!

MysteryPeople Review: WOLF by Mo Hayder

Wolf by Mo Hayder
Review by Molly

Wolf, Mo Hayder’s latest Detective Jack Caffrey thriller, rings true to the series as Hayder delivers her bleakest visions of humanity yet. A family is trapped by psychopaths in a remote manor, and Caffrey must rescue them in order to obtain new information relating to his brother’s childhood disappearance.

This installment veers farther from the traditional police procedural than most. Jack Caffrey is on a quest and this book gives us a glimpse into what he will do for a simple piece of information, including taking off from work without so much as a by-your-leave in order to solve a case in which he has no interest and for which he will not be paid. One the other hand, this piece of information, to Jack Caffery, is very dear indeed.

At first, the book reads a bit like Michael Hoeneker’s film Funny Games – a family trapped in an isolated country house with a pair of sadistic criminals doing whatever they please. However, Mo Hayder is not willing to just leave it there. Soon, a connection appears between the gruesome deaths of two teenagers fourteen years before and the family held hostage in the present day. As you delve further in, the twists, turns, and well-realized motivation become ever more intricate.

Wolf demonstrates, like the previous books in her Caffrey series, that Hayder is a master of the slow reveal, and she adds to this a dizzying set of reversals. She understands the slow pace of police work, but that doesn’t give pause to the driving force of her narrative. Caffery’s process allows time for Hayder to delve into each of her characters’ agendas, and she pays close attention to motivation. She also has a deep respect for the ability of victims and civilians to figure things out for themselves, and, occasionally, to defend themselves. She draws the reader inti the psyche of sociopaths, although making sure to keep the acts of violence as shocking as possible.

Mo Hayder’s is not an easy vision of society. Her crimes are nasty, violent, and not easily solved. Like Hayder’s other work, Wolf has a strong tinge of psychological horror, as well as rather grisly details (figuring prominently in this one – intestines, draped in a heart) and this book is not for the weak of stomach or who mind empathizing with the occasional serial killer or two. Always stylish, always provocative, and with ne’er a dull moment, Wolf does justice to Mo Hayder’s reputation as the creepiest woman in mystery since Patricia Highsmith.