Women Mystery Writers

Our Favorite Female Mystery Writers: 
These women know how to write great suspense. From cozies to police procedurals, there’s an author on this list for every type of mystery fan.
Agatha Christie:Bow down to the Queen! Here’s a fun fact: outsold only by the Bible and Shakespeare, Agatha Christie is the best-selling novelist of all time. Her detectives Miss Marple and Hercule Poirot are practically household names. There have been over 100 million copies sold of And Then There Were None, and the total for all her books sold is more than a billion. She wrote 66 novels, 14 short story collections, and The Mousetrap—the world’s longest running play. http://www.agathachristie.com

Kate Atkinson:
Kate Atkinson is a British author, although a better word might be magician, because the way she weaves together seemingly unrelated events is pure magic. Her books defy categorization, other than each of them qualifies as a page-turner. Her Jackson Brodie series has four books that begin with Case Histories, which is now a miniseries on the BBC. (Fans of Harry Potter will recognize Lucius Malfoy—Jason Isaacs—in the lead role). Her two most recent books, Life After Life and A God In Ruins, while not technically mysteries, are brilliant award-winners. http://www.kateatkinson.co.uk
Laura Lippman:
Laura Lippman has won a long string of awards: the Agatha, Anthony, Edgar, Nero, Gumshoe and Shamus awards, and she’s been shortlisted for the Dagger Award for her novel What the Dead Know. She’s best known for her Tess Monaghan series, about a private investigator in Baltimore. Laura Lippman lives there, and she’s got other ties to it, too: she’s married to David Simon, a creator and executive producer of The Wire. Beginning in 2003, she published a series of standalone novels, all of them written beautifully and expertly plotted. http://www.lauralippman.net
Tana French:
Tana French is an Irish crime novelist known for her Dublin Murder Squad series. Each book is narrated by a different detective, which brings her characterizations to a deeper level by allowing readers to see the main characters through different viewpoints. Psychological thrillers, tightly plotted mysteries, interesting characters—these books have it all. Fair warning: the first book, In the Woods, leaves a certain aspect of the plot unresolved, which either intrigues or enrages readers, but if you stick with the series, you’ll be rewarded by the gripping world she’s created. http://www.tanafrench.com
Sue Grafton:
Fans of the best selling Kinsey Millhone’s alphabet series are starting to panic with the publication of Sue Grafton’s latest novel, X. Only two more books to go! Sue Grafton has been giving us Kinsey’s stories since 1982, and its safe to say she’s a pioneer in the genre. It’s amazing, but somehow she’s never written the same plot twice. http://www.suegrafton.com
Patricia Highsmith:
Born in 1921, Patricia Highsmith wrote 22 novels and countless short stories over her lifetime. Her first novel, Strangers on a Train, is one of her most well-known. Her work is dark, and she’s a master of the psychological thriller. Tom Ripley is one of the most intriguing characters in literature. Even readers unfamiliar with her novel The Price of Salt may have seen Carol, a film adapted from that novel and nominated for multiple Golden Globe and Academy Awards. http://chooseyourhighsmith.com
Louise Penny:
Louise Penny is a Canadian author who has written 10 novels, and almost every one of them has won an award or been nominated for one. Her novels feature Chief Inspector Armand Gamache of the Surete du Quebec, and they feature a cast of recurring characters from the fictional town of Three Pines. It’s not necessary to read them all, or even read them in order, but it’s advisable because you’ll definitely appreciate the supporting character development if you do it that way. http://www.louisepenny.com
Janet Evanovich:
Janet Evanovich has over 200 million books in print, so she’s obviously doing a lot right. She’s best known for her series about bounty hunter Stephanie Plum, but readers may also know her from the Wicked series featuring Lizzie and Diesel, or her Alex Barnaby series. http://www.evanovich.com
Patricia Cornwell:
No one does forensic science like Patricia Cornwell. She’s written over 30 novels, most of them featuring Dr. Kay Scarpetta, the hardworking and extremely dedicated Chief Medical Examiner for the state of Virginia. In later novels, Dr. Scarpetta becomes a private forensic consultant, but the gory, gritty details of the crimes featured in all her novels stay the same. If you want dark, Patricia Cornwell is for you. Fun fact: first editions of her first novel, Postmortem, are highly collectible and worth quite a bit. http://www.patriciacornwell.com
Ruth Rendell:
Not just an ordinary author, Ruth Rendell is a Baroness! She’s a British author who wrote under her own name and the pen name Barbara Vine, and she’s known for both her series of police procedurals starring Inspector Wexford and her standalone psychological thrillers. Her novels often touch on societal issues like racism and sexism, and in her personal life she worked hard to fight inequality and prejudice. https://www.facebook.com/RuthRendellAuthor/
Sara Paretsky:
Sara Paretsky burst on the scene in 1982 with her first V. I. Warshawski novel, Indemnity Only, vowing to write a crime novel that turned the tables on the dominant view of women in fiction and in society. V. I. Warshawski was a new kind of heroine—tough, self-reliant and independent, and she’s just as needed now as she was over thirty years ago. http://www.saraparetsky.com
Elizabeth George:
Elizabeth George is an American author, but her Inspector Thomas Lynley novels are set in Great Britain. You wouldn’t know she isn’t British; she tackles class issues and other details from that country like a pro. She’s written 19 books featuring Inspector Lynley and in addition to featuring tightly plotted mysteries, each novel advances “Tommy’s” own personal story and the stories of the recurring supporting cast of characters who surround him. http://www.elizabethgeorgeonline.com
Gillian Flynn:
Gillian Flynn’s books are dark and twisted, and that’s the way we like it. Gone Girl may be getting the most attention, but her novels Sharp Objects and Dark Places are just as good. Just don’t read them looking for uplifting material with neatly tied happy endings. http://gillian-flynn.com
Louise Erdrich:
Louise Erdrich is the winner of some heavy-hitting awards, including the National Book Award for Fiction in 2012 for Round House. Her novels feature Native American characters and settings, and she’s widely considered one of the most significant writers of the second wave of the Native American renaissance. https://www.harpercollins.com/cr-100712/louise-erdrich
P.D. James:
P.D. James is a British mystery writer. She published her first book, Cover Her Face, when she was 42, and she went on to write 17 more over the next 50 years. Her books feature detective Adam Dalgliesh, and they don’t shy away from the brutal nature of murder. http://www.penguinrandomhouse.com/authors/14352/p-d-james
Tess Gerritsen:
Tess Gerritsen is author of a few different types of suspenseful books: medical thrillers, crime thrillers and romantic thrillers. She’s a doctor, so her medical expertise is often put to good use. Her Rizzoli & Isles series, about a detective and a medical examiner in Boston, was made into a tv show in 2010, and its its 7th season on TNT. http://www.tessgerritsen.com
Karin Slaughter:
Karin Slaughter is an American crime writer. Her first novel, Blindsighted, made the Dagger Award short list for “Best Thriller Debut” in 2001. She’s written more than a dozen novels since then, and there are 30 million of her books in print. She’s best known for her series featuring Will Trent, from the Georgia Bureau of Investigation, and in her own words, she “wants to show violence for what it is.” In other words, these aren’t cozies.Oh, and if you like cats and dogs, make sure you stop by her Facebook page!

Jacqueline Winspear:
Readers who like less grit and violence in the books will appreciate Jacqueline Winspear’s Maisie Dobbs series. Set in post World War I London, Maisie Dobbs is a private investigator who untangles painful and shameful secrets stemming from the war. http://jacquelinewinspear.com Also worth checking out: the blog she writes with five other authors about the “naked truth” about literature and life. http://www.nakedauthors.com
Martha Grimes:
In 2012, Martha Grimes was awarded the Mystery Writers of America’s highest award, The Grand Master. She began publishing at the age of 50, and she’s written 34 books published in 17 countries. Her Richard Jury books are written in the tradition of the cozy, but they don’t fully skip the blood and guts and sex—a departure from the usual cozy format. Still, the novels contain a fair amount of humor and they take place in charming English villages, and each title comes from the name of a pub featured in that book. If you like your cozies with a bit more of an edge, these might be for you. http://www.marthagrimes.com