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Customer Discussions > Mystery forum

Recommendations for "clean" mysteries?

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Initial post: Jul 11, 2008 6:36:39 PM PDT
A.H. says:

I am always on the look out for "clean" mysteries. Graphic violence and detailed forensic descriptions keep me up at night, and I prefer little or no language and no detailed sexual encounters; I'm not looking for celibate characters (though that is fine too!), but neither do I want to have sex scenes outlined for me. At the same time, I have a lot going on so the plot needs to keep my attention. Mystery writers I love include Elizabeth Peters (and her work as Barbara Michaels...I've read and re-read all of them), Agatha Christie, Jacqueline Winspear, Dorothy Sayers, Ngaio Marsh, and I've just started Carola Dunn. I also like the Christian mystery author, Mindy Starns Clark.

I'm not a fan of Janet Evanovich, who is too raunchy for my particular tastes, and Lilian Jackson Braun sort of puts me to sleep, if that gives you a better idea of what I'm looking for!

I love the elegance and wit of the British authors like Christie, as well as the humor and style of Peters. And, I get really bummed when I get half-way through a book and run into graphic sex/violence...I end up pitching it. So, any suggestions would be most appreciated!


In reply to an earlier post on Jul 11, 2008 9:42:32 PM PDT
mysterywoman says:
Hi A.H.

So many recommendations! So little time! Here goes:

Carolyn Haines- Set in the Mississippi Delta her protanganist Sarah Booth Delany becomes a detective to save the family home from foreclosure.Also she's is haunted by the ghost of her great great grandmother's nanny. The series starts with "Them Bones". All the titles have "bones" in the title.

Carole Nelson Douglas- Both her series are wonderful! The Midnight Louie series is set in Las Vegas with Temple Barr
as her detective.Read these in order as Douglas is developing the characters over the course of the books and the surprises have more impact if the books are read in order.
The second series stars Irene Adler.(Yes. Sherlock Holmes' The Woman). They are structured like the Doyle novels with a companion/narrator.

Laurie R King's Mary Russell series Starts with "The Beekeeper's Apprentice" The beekeeper is Sherlock Holmes in retirement.

Rhys Bowen - Both her Molly Murphy and Lady Georgiana mysteries are great. Sorry but I do not care for the Evans series.

Kasey Michaels' Maggie Kelly who is a mystery writer whose characters suddenly come to life in her living room.

Gillian Linscott's Nell Bray,a suffragist in early twentieth century London.

Susan Kandel's Cece Caruso is a biographer who writes about the authors of the golden age of mystery writing.

Amanda Matetsky whose character Paige Turner (no that's not a typo) is a Gal Friday in the office of a police detective magazine and wants to be a writer. Set in the 50s.

Hailey Lind's Annie Kincaid grew up in a family of art forgers.

Meg Cabot's Heather Wells is a (young) house mother at a prestigious New York college (read NYU) who keeps tripping over bodies.

This is by no means complete but I really enjoyed all of the authors and hope that you will too!

Happy reading


In reply to an earlier post on Jul 11, 2008 9:51:44 PM PDT
[Deleted by Amazon on Oct 24, 2011 3:56:17 AM PDT]

In reply to an earlier post on Jul 12, 2008 1:32:33 AM PDT
Last edited by the author on Jul 12, 2008 1:40:13 AM PDT
mysterywoman gave you some great suggestions! I'll add these to the list:

* Debutante Dropout series by Susan McBride
* Blackbird Sisters mysteries by Nancy Martin
* Poetic Death series by Diana Killian
* State of the Onion and Hail to the Chef by Julie Hyzy (about an executive chef at the White House)
* Well Bred and Dead by Catherine O'Connell
* Gray Whale Inn mysteries by Karen MacInerney
* Bobbie Faye series by Toni McGee Causey (comedic mysteries)

Historical: (these series are a blend of mystery and romance, but no graphic violence or sex)
* Silent in the Grave, Silent in the Sanctuary by Deanna Raybourn
* And Only to Deceive, A Poisoned Season, A Fatal Waltz by Tasha Alexander

You might also want to take a look at the cozy thread here on the mystery forum. Cozies, by definition, don't contain graphic material so you should find many other suggestions there.

I hope you find something to interest you. Happy reading.

In reply to an earlier post on Jul 12, 2008 2:05:24 AM PDT
I have a couple more suggestions for mysteries that are a bit "weightier" if you're in the mood for substance as well as style:

* The House at Riverton by Kate Morton is told from the perspective of Grace, who was "in service" to the family who lived at Riverton (an estate in England) from the time she was around 15 years old at the start of WWI through the mid-1920s. The story is told by a 98 year old Grace in flashbacks as she looks back on her life, at the family she served, and recalls the suicide that happened at the house. After the suicide, two sisters never spoke to each other again, and Grace is now the only person alive who knows what happened that fateful night at Riverton. This novel has a real Upstairs, Downstairs feel to it, as the servants' perspective / stories are given equal time to the gentry.

* The Thirteenth Tale by Diane Setterfield is a modern Gothic about a famous British aging actress who has told many, many versions of her life story over the years. She now hires a biographer to write "the real story." But is it the real story, or is she lying again? And what happened in her past she's tried to bury all these years?

In reply to an earlier post on Jul 12, 2008 7:28:06 PM PDT
K. James says:
You should try Elizabeth Ironside -- very british, very old-fashioned. Published in the US by Felony and Mayhem -- look at their website for other ideas.

In reply to an earlier post on Jul 12, 2008 10:08:04 PM PDT
I'd like to suggest the "cozy" mysteries of Earlene Fowler. Her Benni Harper series is smart, funny, well-plotted and quite "clean."

Might I also modestly recommend my new collection of mystery short stories, "From Crime to Crime" (Tallfellow Press). The stories are classic "armchair mysteries," with the accent on humor, likeable characters and baffling plots. The reviewers on amazon seem to agree. And I promise, no sex or violence.

BTW, I'm a former screenwriter ("My Favorite Year," "Welcome Back, Kotter," etc.), so I guess that accounts for my interest in weaving humor into my mysteries. Anyway, I hope you'll consider checking out "From Crime to Crime."


In reply to an earlier post on Jul 13, 2008 8:47:37 AM PDT
Last edited by the author on Nov 15, 2010 12:16:30 PM PST
ANN SELF says:
Hello A.H.--Try my romantic mystery/thriller series starting with SOMETHING MOST DEADLY and SOMETHING VERY GHOSTLY. SOMETHING MOST EVIL out in 2011. These are clean books with a light romantic thread, and absent detailed forensic gore. The only thing that will keep you up at night and checking shadows is the mystery. This ongoing cat-and-mouse thriller is situated in New England on a lavish country estate involved in the breeding and training of show horses in a huge gothic barn. The romance and mystery continue with same characters in all three books, with a lot of New England history and just a dash of supernatural as a shadow of the estate's past creeps into the future. The first two books are in paperback and now on Kindle, and you can download the first chapter and a half for free on your kindle, laptop, iPAD, etc. by following this link. (Amazon has free apps for those devices).Something Most Deadly or for the sequel: Something Very Ghostly

In reply to an earlier post on Jul 13, 2008 9:16:34 AM PDT
A. L. Sawan says:
Did anyone mention Elizabeth George? I find her books far less graphic than most, whether re: sex or violence. There are crimes, and a bit of sex, but compared to Cornwell, LeHane, and most of the classic 'hard-boiled' types, the gore and detail are minor and more than made up for in plot, character, setting and thoughtful, complex 'detecting'.

In reply to an earlier post on Jul 13, 2008 3:01:48 PM PDT
ilhunter says:
If you want a "clean" mystery, try Eye for Trouble by Deborah McKinney. It's funny, no bad language at all, no graphic details, (the only "violence" is downplayed into something really funny, and no sex. It also has a Christian element to the book. My college daughter also read it and loved it.

In reply to an earlier post on Jul 14, 2008 4:02:30 AM PDT
C. Byler says:
You might want to try Brandilyn Collins. I just read Violet Dawn, the first in her Kanner Lake Series, and it was excellent! I have ordered the following 3 books and am also going to order the Hidden Faces series. Though her tales are suspenseful, there isn't a lot of gore or steamy romance. Check out the reviews here on Amazon, she usually gets close to 5 stars on each book. Although she is a Christian author, the stories aren't loaded with religion. Good luck!

In reply to an earlier post on Jul 14, 2008 11:44:21 AM PDT
Try "Sir Philip Wild and the Emerald Necklace" by Miranda Windle. Look at this book's summary, reviews, chapter excerpt and author biography to see if this book would suit you. This cozy British mystery consists of romantic interlude and intrigue with a war backdrop that might interest you. If you like authors such as Dorothy L. Sayers and Agatha Christie, you might like this novel.

There are limited violence and mild swearing with no sex to speak of, and interesting characters of various age groups from young to senior. The main locations of this aristocratic cozy mystery novel are in a luxury Canadian hotel, a baronial castle that resembles the historic Bans Spring Hotel (now a Fairmont hotel), and the world-famous, beautiful Lake Louise.

In reply to an earlier post on Jul 14, 2008 7:20:06 PM PDT
Try M. C. Beaton's Hamish McBeth and Agaitha Rasin series. There are no details of sex scenes and just a few bad words. I have read every one; I can't wait until the next one comes out.

In reply to an earlier post on Jul 14, 2008 7:56:05 PM PDT
D.Vance says:
Has anyone mentioned one of my favorites, Charlotte MacLeod, also wrote as Alisa Craig? Her books are witty, smart, funny, full of one liners, just a great read! Three different series, The Grub and Stakers, Peter Shanty, and Max and Sarah. I admit my very fave are the Peter Shandy ones, but they are all very good. Also, Deb Baker, Maggie Sefton, and Monica Ferris.

In reply to an earlier post on Jul 15, 2008 9:49:56 AM PDT
[Deleted by Amazon on Oct 24, 2011 3:57:23 AM PDT]

In reply to an earlier post on Jul 15, 2008 1:32:16 PM PDT
bevybean says:
Just out of curiousity, when you no graphic sex, is it because of what happens or because of the detail in which it is described? For example, Janet Evanovich in Four to Score gives a very detailed description of who is touching what in the sex scene, which I assume is the raunchiness you were referring to (for most of the others books she is pretty vague). But I just finished "A for Alibi" by Sue Grafton which includes sex scenes but no real specific "details" (like saying he was "inventive" but not saying what he did.) So, would that be considered "clean"?

In reply to an earlier post on Jul 15, 2008 1:54:44 PM PDT
I'm a big fan of the "Dame Adela Bradley" stories by Gladys Mitchell. Mrs. Bradley was a "feminist" psychologist set in the 20/30's English countryside. You may catch the PBS/BBC 1 1/2 hour series under Masterpiece (used to be called Mystery!), starring Dame Diana Rigg. She's a smart, irreverent, totally independent woman with a unusual way of "catching the killer". They can be hard to find, here in Illinois, the library system has been great at tracking down the titles (some 19 in all).

In reply to an earlier post on Jul 15, 2008 2:33:07 PM PDT
[Deleted by Amazon on Dec 14, 2011 8:45:31 AM PST]

In reply to an earlier post on Jul 15, 2008 2:39:09 PM PDT
decency1st says:
Mary Roberts Rinehart is a long ago clean author that I have recently found online. and has some of her books and short stories. "The Man in Lower Ten", "The Circular Staircase" will probably get you hooked. "The Amazing Interlude" was really good.

Laurie R. King brought back Sherlock Holmes with "The Beekeeper's Apprentice." I very much enjoyed that series for a while, although was offended a few times by her using the Lord's name in vain.

In reply to an earlier post on Jul 15, 2008 5:12:52 PM PDT
A.H. says:
Thanks for asking; definitions of "clean" definitely vary from one person to the next (I've had friends give me books that they said were clean that made my eyebrows soar!). I prefer no sex in a book, or a very mild description... you know the old movies when the man and the woman enter the bedroom, the music swells, the door shuts, and we move to the next scene? That's my preference! I don't care that the characters engage in intimate relations, I just don't want much of a description. I also don't particularly appreciate it when one of the main characters hops into bed with someone after knowing them for five minutes, that sort of thing...and I feel the same about violence. That's part of the reason I like reading some of the older authors like Agatha Christie, or someone like Elizabeth Peters. I haven't read Sue Grafton, so I don't know if she fits my preference or not...but, it sounds like it might work...does she have a lot of violence? Thanks!

In reply to an earlier post on Jul 16, 2008 11:39:34 AM PDT
bevybean says:
I have only read the first book and she is on T already, so i can't say how they progress through the series. There was minimal violence for a murder mystery. The book opens with the heroine's confession that she killed someone the day before. It then goes back to explain what lead up to that event. There isn't really any violence other than people dying and that is mentioned more so than described. My gut is telling me that you may not agree with the heroine's choice when that first sex scene comes up, but probably not enough to stop reading. It sounds like something that might be worth it for you to try, but you might want to get the first one from the library before you starting buying up the series.

In reply to an earlier post on Jul 16, 2008 11:53:52 AM PDT
Have you read anything by Dorothy Cannell? I think she's great and very funny. You might like my book Hooked on Murder, a crochet mystery. There are dead bodies, but everybody has a good time.
Happy Reading!

Betty Hechtman

In reply to an earlier post on Jul 16, 2008 12:40:04 PM PDT
Reviewer6418 says:
Check out Charles Finch's books, like A Beautiful Blue Death and The September Society. Good, clean, humorous fun.

In reply to an earlier post on Jul 16, 2008 3:54:02 PM PDT
You sound like me. I like: Joan Hess, although she is contemptuous of christianity. Cleo Coyle, who writes coffee shop mysteries. Nancy Martin, who writes Pensylvania society mysteries.

In reply to an earlier post on Jul 16, 2008 6:32:16 PM PDT
Last edited by the author on Sep 11, 2013 5:10:31 AM PDT
Please consider Don Yarber's books.
No graphic sex scenes. No filthy language.
Just a good old fashioned P.I. novel with a good plot and interesting characters.
Although the lead character, Kip Yardley, appreciates beautiful women, and is not a prude, he does not get involved in graphic acts with those women.
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Discussion in:  Mystery forum
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Initial post:  Jul 11, 2008
Latest post:  Feb 16, 2015

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