Top Five British Mystery Writers

Like most people, my daily life can sometimes run at a frenetic pace. To unwind in my leisure moments, there is nothing I like better to do than curl up and read a good mystery novel.

While there are many modern mystery novelists whose works I enjoy, I find myself turning again and again to classic “whodunnits”. Penned by authors who knew how to plot a mystery that keeps you guessing until the end, these books have provided entertainment while engaging my intellect and interest. Check out my top five British mystery novelists when you get a moment to yourself.

  1. Agatha Christie

    This most prolific writer has to be tops on anyone’s list. Often imitated but never equaled, Dame Christie’s mystery’s always played fair providing enough clues to help the reader guess “whodunnit” before the end of the book. Of course, no reader was ever as good at finding the killer as Hercule Poirot or Miss Marple. Her most well-know work, repeated again and again in film and literature is probably Ten Little Indians ( also know as And Then There Were None), although many are familiar with The Mystery on the Orient Express and Death on the Nile. Her books are a must read for anyone who enjoys mystery novels.

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  2. Dorothy Sayers

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    A young teen when I first started reading this author, I fell in love with her fictional detective, the dashing, debonair Lord Peter Wimsey. The monocled amateur sleuth rode around in his Daimler solving mysteries with the help of his butler, Bunter, his friend, Inspector Charles Parker and his future bride, Harriet Vane. Sayers novels are intelligent and well-plotted and provide an interesting look at the lives of the British upper class subsequent to World War I.

  3. P. D. James

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    Although at times I find James’ detective, Inspector Adam Dalgliesh of Scotland Yard to be a bit too morose, I have always immensely enjoyed her writing . Her books are methodically plotted, contain a wealth of information about British life and institutions and well-defined characters.

  4. Martha Grimes

    Ok, I am cheating a little, here. Ms. Grimes is actually an American, but I have included her on this list because her novels are set in England. Her mysteries feature the dynamic duo, Inspector Richard Jury of Scotland Yard and Melrose Plant, a member of the British peerage who gave up his title. These two sleuths are always surrounded by a recurring eccentric cast of characters while they go about solving mysteries. The titles to the books are always the name of a British pub or inn. Highly enjoyable works.

  5. Ngaio Marsh

    Not as well-known today as the other authors on my list, Dame Marsh was a native New Zealander whose main character was Inspector Roderick Alleyn of Scotland Yard. Her works contained intricate mysteries, highly developed, colorful characters and vivid, sparkling dialogue. Any of her books is a treat to read.

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  1. Posted June 3, 2009 at 3:22 am

    Good list. I personally love Christie. Interesting to note that they are all women.

  2. Posted June 3, 2009 at 7:51 pm

    Good point. Note also that, with the exception of Christie’s Miss Marple, all of the women authors have male protagonists.

  3. safeen
    Posted April 5, 2010 at 2:54 pm

    this is fun to read

  4. Lorial
    Posted June 13, 2010 at 10:24 am

    I’m trying to remember the name of a detective/mystery novel, from which a tv film was made. The story is about a murder on a train. A man with amnesia is suspected to be the killer. The man is roughly interrogated by the police. Eventually he is found innocent, and the real killer is found. The amnesiac regains his memory and turns out to be a monk who was knocked unconscious by the killer. The monk was on leave to determine if he wanted to rejoin the outside world or remain cloistered. He decides the outside world isn’t for him and returns to the monastery. Anyway, do you recall the story, it’s name, and the author?

  5. charlie ness
    Posted May 18, 2012 at 3:18 am

    Please go and read some British mysteries from the past 10-15 years !
    Your list of ‘Top 5 ‘ is so simplistic I laughed.
    – Sorry, not trying to be mean – but there are loads of British writers better than those listed. – Try Patrick Lennon , Mark Billingham, Stuart Pawson, Jim Kelly just for a start !

  6. Ann Tallis
    Posted August 25, 2012 at 12:21 am

    Help – looking for the author of books – Police Inspector in a small town in England. Also is a sketch artist who show’s his work in London. Sister is a Doctor whose focus is palliative care. Any help would be much appreciated!

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