Twelve Mysteries for Your Next Rainy Day

A dozen excellent mysteries for you to curl up with. Because no thunderstorm is complete without one. |

Mysteries and rainy days just go together. Like Sherlock and Watson, like London and fog, like coffee and ... a lot more coffee. 

I've learned not to fight it. 

Actually, when I hear thunder breaking overhead, I get my feet tangled in my scramble to grab the nearest Agatha Christie.

I've heard someone say that, at its heart, every novel is actually a mystery.

And I love that definition. I certainly think it's true: at least from a writer's point of view. You're faced with so many mysteries: unraveling the characters, their motivations, the history of the story world, and then of course, how the plot works its way out. 

Even though the book I'm writing would never be classified as a mystery: that's what I feel like I'm writing, most days. When it's going well, I feel like I'm solving the mystery of the story itself.

Writers as sleuths. I like that.

Maybe this is why I read and watch more mysteries than any other genre. 

If you're looking for a good one, here's a list of twelve of my favorites:

1. The Nero Wolfe mysteries, by Rex Stout. (Because I want to marry Archie Goodwin. I do. Fiction or not, I feel sure that we can work this out. ... Book-wise, I'm especially fond of The League of Frightened Gentlemen.)

2. Green for Danger, by Christianna Brand (World War Two, bombs falling over a hospital, patients dying mysteriously during surgery... So. Good.)

3. Mary Stewart wrote mysterious romantic suspense, which reads superbly on damp dark days. Pick up Nine Coaches Waiting, especially if you're a fan of Jane Eyre.

4. Alan Bradley's Flavia de Luce series is ridiculously fun: she's an eleven-year-old chemist, she's hilarious, and she keeps solving mysteries. (The series is for us grown-ups though, not kids.) Of the first four, number one is still my favorite: The Sweetness at the Bottom of the Pie. 

I wish I could say my heart was stricken, but it wasn't. I wish I could say my instinct was to run away, but that would not be true. Instead, I watched in awe, savoring every detail. ... Then the utter stillness. I wish I could say I was afraid, but I wasn't. -- Alan Bradley / The Sweetness at the Bottom of the Pie

5. Some Danger Involved by Will Thomas. Excellent if you like Sherlock Holmes era mysteries, but are ready for some new characters.

6. Speaking of which... The Complete Sherlock Holmes. Of course. Obviously. Of course.

Peering through the gloom, I saw the vague outline of a man, a shade blacker than the blackness of the open door. He stood for an instant, and then he crept forward, crouching, menacing, into the room. He was within three yards of us, this sinister figure, and I had braced myself to meet his spring. -- Sir Arthur Conan Doyle / "The Adventure of the Empty House"

7, 8, & 9. And as far as obvious choices go: It is impossible to pick a favorite Agatha Christie. Right? I "narrowed it down" to: And Then There Were None (for most goosebumps while reading), Murder on the Orient Express (for sublimeness, for perfect murder, for happening on a train, and for this screen version), and Death on the Nile (because everything... check out the movie too). 

10 &11. If you want sweeping scope, layered narratives, gloomy landscapes, dark secrets, brooding family estates--basically if you want the best sort of thing for a thunderstormy day--then check out Wilkie Collins's The Woman in White (!!!!) and The Moonstone. 

12. Last but not least: Brat Farrar by Josephine Tey. I couldn't stop talking about this one when I finished it. (I just love the set-up: the story of an impostor who begins to unravel a family mystery...)

There have been doubles before. Hitler had several. Lots of famous people have doubles. The papers are forever printing photographs of the humble doubles of great men. They all look like the great men with the character sponged out. -- Josephine Tey / Brat Farrar

There you have it. An easy dozen for the next time you see thunderstorms in the forecast. 

Obviously I've left out only about two hundred excellent recommendations... (I didn't even mention Ellery Queen! How did that happen?! And has anyone else watched The Bletchley Circle?)

Care to fill in the gaps? What are your favorite mysteries to read or watch? I'd love some new titles to check out!