Random (but not really)

Monday, February 3, 2020

Categorical Books: PI Mysteries

For obvious reasons, I hold a special place in my heart for private investigators. (Sherlock Holmes! Miss Marple!)

It doesn’t matter if the investigator is a PI in a smoke filled office or a little old lady keeping an eye on her neighbors, I love it when people get nosy and figure things out.

Small VicesI have to start this list with Robert B. Parker‘s Spenser series. Set in Boston, Spenser is a private eye who eventually develops a long term relationship with Susan Silverman, and frequently works with Hawk on cases where he needs extra muscle. My introduction to Spenser was with the audio version of Small Vices and I immediately fell in love and started working my way through the series, grabbing whatever books I could find at the used book store.

Some books were excellent, some I found aggravating. But it was a very rare book that I didn’t thoroughly enjoy. However, I fell off reading the series in the early 2000s, and haven’t finished the rest of the series. I tried some of his other series, but never got into them. (1973-2011)


Robert Crais‘s PI Elvis Cole felt very much like Spenser in his first book, but quickly developed his own personality. He’s often assisted by Joe Pike, who eventually gets his own books, although most frequently the two work together. Set in southern California (1987-)

Two guys came in from the L.A. County Medical Examiners Office, but neither of them looked like Jack Klugman.

I copied her address along with her phone number and put the (phone) book back in its case, still complete, still immaculate. Jim Rockford would’ve ripped out the page, but Jim Rockford was an asshole.


Randy Wayne White‘s Doc Ford has retired from working for the government” and is happily running a biological supply company and dabbling as a marine biologist in Florida. I started reading this series when I broke my ankle and then moved onto something else and never got back to it. (1990-)


Dana Stabenow‘s Kate Shugak is set in Alaska and I have a strange history reading this series. First, I started the series at Midnight Come Again and decided not to go back and read he prior books, because her significant other is killed in the book prior to that, and I just can’t. I then gobbled up everything until the publication of Bad Blood at which point my head exploded and I haven’t trusted her to pick up another book, since that book ended with Kate and her dog possibly dead, and no word for a couple years as to whether there was going to be another book. Aside from that, I did love the series. I didn’t enjoy her Liam Campbell series anywhere near as much. (1992-)

FOUR BROTHERS, FOUR MEN born one each year for four sequential years, before their parents figured out how babies were made and Took Steps. They were named, in order, Matthew, Mark, Luke and Peter, because their mother refused to burden a child with the homonym for toilet, upon which her loud, rowdy and profane brother had just congratulated her. Her husband, a faithful Presbyterian who disliked his brother-in-law anyway, remonstrated that this upset the gospellian design decided on before the birth of their first son, but she remained obstinate. They compromised on Peter, upon being informed of which her brother then spake aloud and at length on euphemisms for male genitalia, until Peter’s father had more than words with his brother-in-law in the alley out back of the Ahtna General Hospital. A faithful Presbyterian, he wasn’t a pacifist.


Andrew M. Greely‘s Blackie Ryan is set in Chicago and is close to the definition of a cosy. Blackie Ryan is a parish priest and the majority of his books focus on forgiveness and redemption. (1985-2008)


Diane Mott Davidson Goldy the Caterer Mysteries are set in Colorado and the main character is a caterer. I feel off reading this series, and although I’ve tried to re-start it, I haven’t been able to get back into it. (1990-)


Elizabeth Peters‘s Jacqueline Kirby is a very short series that I really enjoyed, even though it took me forever to eventually find all four books in the series. Jacqueline Kirby is a romance writer who unexpectedly solves mysteries. Considering that the first book was written in 1972 it almost feels like an historical. (1972-1989)

“That’s one of the advantages of middle age. You don’t have to pretend you’re cultured.”


Julie Anne Lindsey‘s Geek Girl Mysteries are a delight. The main character runs an IT department–as well as helping run her grandmother’s company–and accidentally gets involved in murder mysteries. Mia is a twin, loves dressing up for ren faires and cons and is just a DELIGHT. (2015-2016)

Are you upset because your brother is outside and knows you stayed here last night?”

He snarled. “Aren’t you?”

I made a show of checking my watch. “Nope. It says here this isn’t 1955 anymore, and I’m a grown-ass woman.”


Josh Lanyon writes LGBT mysteries, both series Adrien English (2000-2016) and Holmes & Moriarity (2009-2018) as well as several stand-alone mysteries. All of these books have boinking, and I don’t really recommend starting with the Adrien English series. I tend to prefer her stand-alones, and also a lot of crap tends to happen to Adrien. I highly recommend Come Unto These Yellow Sands and Murder Takes the High Road if you’re looking for a stand-alone and are ok with boinking.

The house was an original Craftsman bungalow. It had been in terrible shape when Taylor bought it two years previously. Actually, it was still in terrible shape, but Taylor was renovating it, one room at a time, in his spare hours.


C.S. Poe‘s Winter & Snow is set in NYC. The main character is an antiques dealer, and his partner is a cop, but Sebastian is definitely the sleuth in this series. This is an LGBT book and has a fair amount of boinking. Also, the mysteries can get a little ridiculous, but I like Sebastian so much I end up being ok with it. (2016-2019)

Clothes shopping was stressful for me. Department stores were so bright, and there was apparently a concept of clashing colors. My idea of adding new options to my wardrobe was heading out to secondhand shops with Pop, letting him grab a dozen items in dark colors he says won’t hurt anyone’s eyes if I mix and match, then we’re out in ten minutes.


I read Lisa Lutz Spellman Files soon after it was published, and mean to read the next book and… never got around to it. (2007-2014)

F. Paul Wilson‘s Repairman Jack may or may not fit better onto a fantasy list, but some of the books don’t have supernatural elements. This is another series I started and never finished and haven’t gotten back into. (1984-)

You’ll notice some big series are missing. I’ve never been able to get into Sara Paretsky‘s V.I. Warshawski, and although I could read Sue Grafton’s Kinsey Milhone series, they just never drew me in the way other series have.

So what’cha got for me? Anything I’m missing and definitely need to read?

Though it is possible I’ve read it and just wasn’t into it, so you can peruse the author list here.


Categorical Books

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