16 Beloved Detectives to Add to Your Reading Capers

Posted by Cybil on November 7, 2018

This post is sponsored by Robert Dugoni, bestselling author of the Tracy Crosswhite series.

"When you have eliminated all which is impossible, then whatever remains, however improbable, must be the truth"-Sherlock Holmes

There's something enthralling about finding your perfect partner in crime. You know that feeling, when you identify a detective who will invite you along on every caper and whodunit, book after book. We've rounded up some of your favorite sleuths—some classics, and some newer to the scene—and then added in their job titles, stomping grounds, and the opening lines of the first novel they appeared in.

And we want to know, who's your favorite fictional detective? Tell us in the comments. Don’t forget to add new favorites to your Want-to-Read shelf!

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Philip Marlowe
From the series by Raymond Chandler
Gig: Hard-boiled detective
Beat: A very noir 1940s Los Angeles
Opening Line: "It was about eleven o’clock in the morning, mid October, with the sun not shining and a look of hard wet rain in the clearness of the foothills. I was wearing my powder-blue suit, with dark blue shirt, tie and display handkerchief, black brogues, black wool socks with dark blue clocks on them. I was neat, clean, shaved and sober, and I didn’t care who knew it. I was everything the well-dressed private detective ought to be. I was calling on four million dollars."

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Cormoran Strike
From the series by Robert Galbraith (AKA J.K. Rowling)
Gig: War veteran-turned-detective
Beat: London
Opening Line: "The buzz in the street was like the humming of flies. Photographers stood massed behind barriers patrolled by police, their long-snouted cameras poised, their breath rising like steam."

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Miss Jane Marple
From the series by Agatha Christie
Gig: Amateur consulting detective
Beat: St. Mary Mead
Opening Line: "It is difficult to know quite where to begin this story, but I have fixed my choice on a certain Wednesday at luncheon at the Vicarage. The conversation, though in the main irrelevant to the matter in hand, yet contained one or two suggestive incidents which influenced later developments."

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Eve Dallas
From the series by J.D. Robb (AKA Nora Roberts)
Gig: Police detective
Beat: New York City in 2058
Opening Line: "She woke in the dark. Through the slats on the window shades, the first murky hint of dawn slipped, slanting shadowy bars over the bed. It was like waking in a cell."

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Harry Hole
From the series by Jo Nesbø
Gig: Crime squad officer
Beat: Oslo
Opening Line: "Something was wrong. At first the female passport official had beamed: 'How are ya, mate?'"

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Hercule Poirot
From the series by Agatha Christie
Gig: Mustachioed Belgian private investigator
Beat: Throughout 1920s Europe
Opening Line: "The intense interest aroused in the public by what was known at the time as "The Styles Case" has now somewhat subsided. Nevertheless, in view of the world-wide notoriety which attended it, I have been asked, both by my friend Poirot and the family themselves to write an account of the whole story."

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Dirk Gently (AKA Svlad Cjelli)
From the series by Douglas Adams
Gig: "Holistic detective"
Beat: London with a paranormal twist
Opening Line: "This time there would be no witnesses. This time there was just the dead earth, a rumble of thunder, and the onset of that interminable light drizzle from the northeast by which so many of the world's most momentous events seem to be accompanied."

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Precious Ramotswe
From the series by Alexander McCall Smith
Gig: Detective
Beat: Botswana
Opening Line: "Mma Ramotswe had a detective agency in Africa, at the foot of the Kgale Hill. These were its assets: a tiny white van, two desks, two chairs, a telephone, and an old typewriter."

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Armand Gamache
From the series by Louise Penny
Gig: Chief inspector of Sûreté du Québec, the provincial police force for Quebec
Beat: Sleepy, yet murderous, Canadian villages
Opening Line: "Miss Jane Neal met her maker in the early morning mist of Thanksgiving Sunday. It was pretty much a surprise all around."

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Ezekiel "Easy" Porterhouse Rawlins
From the series by Walter Mosley
Gig: World War II veteran-turned-private investigator
Beat: Los Angeles' Watts neighborhood from the 1940s to the 1960s
Opening Line: "I was surprised to see a white man walk into Joppy's bar. It's not just that he was white but he wore an off-white linen suit and shirt with a Panama straw hat and bone shoes over flashing white silk socks."

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Hieronymus "Harry" Bosch
From the series by Michael Connelly
Gig: Los Angeles police detective
Beat: Hollywood
Opening Line: "The boy couldn't see in the dark, but he didn't need to. Experience and long practice told him it was good."

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Kinsey Millhone
From the series by Sue Grafton
Gig: Police officer-turned-private investigator
Beat: The fictional California town of Santa Teresa
Opening Line:"My name is Kinsey Millhone. I'm a private investigator, licensed by the state of California. I'm thirty-two years old, twice divorced, no kids."

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Aaron Falk
From the series by Jane Harper
Gig: Federal police investigator
Beat: Remote parts of Australia
Opening Line: "Even those who didn't darken the door of the church from one Christmas to the next could tell there would be more mourners than seats."

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From the series by Joe Ide
Gig: High school dropout-turned-private eye
Beat: One of Los Angeles's toughest neighborhoods
Opening Line: "Isiah's crib looked like every other house on the block except the lawn was cut even, the paint was fresh, and the entrance was a little unusual."

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Dave Robicheaux
From the series by James Lee Burke
Gig: Detective
Beat: New Orleans, Lousiana
Opening Line: "The evening sky was streaked with purple, the color of torn plums, and a light rain has started to fall when I came to the end of the blacktop road that cut through twenty miles of thick, almost impenetrable scrub oak and pine and stopped at the front gate of Angola penitentiary."

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Sherlock Holmes
From the series by Arthur Conan Doyle
Gig: Consulting detective
Beat: London
Opening Line: "In the year 1878 I took my degree of Doctor of Medicine of the University of London, and proceeded to Netley to go through the course prescribed for surgeons in the army. Having completed my studies there, I was duly attached to the Fifth Northumberland Fusiliers as Assistant Surgeon."

Comments Showing 1-50 of 138 (138 new)

message 1: by Rebeka (new)

Rebeka Hary Hole and Hercule Poirot are my all time favourites. But I'm missing others such as: Robert Hunter, Alex Cross, Jane Rizzoli (and Maura Isles), Patrik Hedström,...

message 2: by El (new)

El Sherlock Holmes, Hercule Poirot, Ms Marple and Cormoran Strike are my favourites.

message 3: by Atul (new)

Atul Shanbhag Rebeka wrote: "Hary Hole and Hercule Poirot are my all time favourites. But I'm missing others such as: Robert Hunter, Alex Cross, Jane Rizzoli (and Maura Isles), Patrik Hedström,..."

+1 to Robert Hunter

message 5: by Rob (new)

Rob We need more Precious on tv. It used to be brilliant.

message 6: by Jgrace (new)

Jgrace Sebastian St. Cyr

What Angels Fear

message 7: by Andrew (new)

Andrew Learoyd Love Joe Ide. IQ is a great character.

message 8: by Miki (last edited Nov 07, 2018 09:16AM) (new)

Miki Sebastian St. Cyr, Aunt Dimity, Gemma James and Duncan Kincaid, Armand Gamache, ian Rutledge

message 9: by Jami (new)

Jami No Hamish MacBeth?

Love Holmes, Precious, and Strike. But we also need the lazy policeman from Lubboch.

message 10: by Anna (new)

Anna No Maisie Dobbs?

message 11: by Suzanne (new)

Suzanne Harry Bosch, Miss Marple, Precious and Phryne Fisher—with a nod to Kinsey Millhone!

message 12: by Stephanie (new)

Stephanie This includes many of my very favorites.

message 13: by Ruth (new)

Ruth Hercule Poirot, Miss Jane Marple, Precious Ramotswe are my favorite detectives; I also enjoy Agatha Raisin and that lazy detective, Hamish MacBeth, as well.

megs_bookrack ((is on vacation)) No Jessica Fletcher?! How dare you!!?? ((totally kidding but I love her))

message 15: by Ruth (new)

Ruth Rob wrote: "We need more Precious on tv. It used to be brilliant."

I agree, it was a good series.

message 16: by J_berlanga (new)

J_berlanga Rebeka wrote: "Hary Hole and Hercule Poirot are my all time favourites. But I'm missing others such as: Robert Hunter, Alex Cross, Jane Rizzoli (and Maura Isles), Patrik Hedström,..."

To be honest, is Erika Falck instead of Patrick Hedstöm the "real" detective in Fjalbacka series, but I love them.

message 17: by Nicole (new)

Nicole Pete Marino alongside Dr. Kay Scarpetta, based on the novels written by Patricia Cornwell.

message 18: by J_berlanga (new)

J_berlanga I really love Harry Bosh (the books, not the TV series). I strongly recommend a series by John Sandford which has Lucas Davemport as main detective

megs_bookrack ((is on vacation)) Nicole wrote: "Pete Marino alongside Dr. Kay Scarpetta, based on the novels written by Patricia Cornwell." Yes! Good ones, love Pete & Scarpetta.

message 20: by Aimee (new)

Aimee Inspector Juve from "Fantomas" and Jane Rizzoli

message 21: by Megan (last edited Nov 07, 2018 01:09PM) (new)

Megan ...no Nancy Drew? Or the Hardy Boys? WTF?

message 22: by Meghan (new)

Meghan Amelia Peabody!

message 23: by nitya (new)

nitya Veronica Mars (she has books too) & Nancy Drew!

message 24: by Kim (new)

Kim Dodson Dorothy Sayers' Lord Peter Wimsey and John Dunning's Cliff Janeway.

message 25: by Jack (new)

Jack Harding Marlowe all the way!

message 26: by Ross (new)

Ross Vincent Well, you cant go wrong with The Master - Sherlock Holmes.
But some others are Nero Wolfe, Spenser, Lovejoy (yeah, I have a thing about single name detectives), Elvis Cole, V.I. Warshawski, Rumpole of the Bailey, the Gang at the 87th Precinct and Joe Leaphone/ Jim Chee.

message 27: by Jennifer (new)

Jennifer Faith Fairchild
Hannah Swenson
Mary Russell
Annie Darling
Henrie O
Nancy Drew

message 28: by Emily (new)

Emily I'd add Alan Bradley's precocious pre-teen Flavia de Luce!

message 29: by T (new)

T Rebeka wrote: "Hary Hole and Hercule Poirot are my all time favourites. But I'm missing others such as: Robert Hunter, Alex Cross, Jane Rizzoli (and Maura Isles), Patrik Hedström,..."

Have you tried Nero Wolfe? I love him!

message 30: by Teresa (new)

Teresa Nero Wolfe- the best writing this side of (but thoroughly unlike) Jane Austen.

message 31: by Rebeka (new)

Rebeka J_berlanga wrote: "Rebeka wrote: "Hary Hole and Hercule Poirot are my all time favourites. But I'm missing others such as: Robert Hunter, Alex Cross, Jane Rizzoli (and Maura Isles), Patrik Hedström,..."

To be honest..."

I agree with you.

message 32: by Rebeka (new)

Rebeka Vixis wrote: "Rebeka wrote: "Hary Hole and Hercule Poirot are my all time favourites. But I'm missing others such as: Robert Hunter, Alex Cross, Jane Rizzoli (and Maura Isles), Patrik Hedström,..."

Have you tri..."

It's actually the first time I've heard about him. I guess I'll have to check it out. Any specific recommendations?

message 33: by Clara (new)

Clara Lester Hercule Poirot - the best!!!

message 34: by Paula (last edited Nov 08, 2018 06:17AM) (new)

Paula Dalziel,Pascoe and Wield (Reginald Hill), Lloyd and Hill (Jill McGown), Dpt Q (Jussi Adler-Olsen), Lynley and Havers (Elizabeth George). Morse and Lewis (Colin Dexter), Wallander (Henning Mankell), Ricciardi (Maurizio De Giovanni), Rocco Schiavone (Antonio Manzini), Lascano (E. Mallo),Adamsberg (Fred Vargas),Rebus (Ian Rankin).

message 35: by Annette (new)

Annette Peter Wimsey & Harriet Vane (Dorothy Sayers)! Best love story and beautiful early 1900's feminism. And I always love the Flavia de Luce stories as well (Alan Bradley).

message 36: by Dana (last edited Nov 08, 2018 07:41AM) (new)

Dana Cristiana I love Hercule Poirot and Sherlock Holmes.

But I also love Inspector-Chief Van Veeteren Hakan Nesser - https://www.goodreads.com/series/5305...

message 37: by Aimee (new)

Aimee Meghan wrote: "Amelia Peabody!"


message 38: by Denise (new)

Denise Love these! But please add the (hilarious) Agatha Raisin (M.C. Beaton), J.P. Beaumont (J.A. Jance) & Theodosia Browning Laura Childs). They are good reading & not as dark as some others, along the lines of Precious.

message 39: by Rahma.Mrk (new)

Rahma.Mrk my favorite one; all time is Miss Marple and Hercule

message 40: by Lyne (new)

Lyne Armand Gamache, Hercule Poirot, Harry Hole, Cormoran Strike, Hazel Micallef (Wolfe), Verhoeven (Pierre LeMaître), John Rebus (Ian Rankin) and Poke Rafferty (Timothy Hallinan). I also like Flavia De Luce, a young budding detective in the Allan Bradley novels.

message 41: by Keith (new)

Keith Willis Nero Wolfe/Archie Goodwin (Rex Stout), and Asey Mayo (Phoebe Atwood Taylor).

message 42: by Gerry (new)

Gerry How about Lucas Davenport and Virgil Flowers by John Sandford. Never miss one of his books. Best dialogue ever!

message 43: by Ada (last edited Nov 15, 2018 09:23AM) (new)

Ada Marie Robert B. Parker

message 44: by Miles (new)

Miles Kierson What about: Ken Bruen's Jack Taylor; Sara Gran's "World's Greatest Detective" Claire DeWitt; John Sandford's Lucas Davenport has been mentioned but how about "that f----ing Flowers"?; Lisa Gardner's D.D. Warren; Dennis Lehane's Patrick Kenzie and Angela Gennaro, who I miss (hint to the author); Ace Atkins' Quinn Colson; Robert B. Parker's Spenser; Linda Castillo's Kate Burkholder?

message 45: by Anthony (new)

Anthony Romano I tend to appreciate the Russians - Arkady Renko, Porfiry Rostnikov, Alexei Korolev...but the one who sent me on the way is Harry Hole...

message 46: by Gene (new)

Gene Borowski Holmes and Poirot, of course. Bernie Gunther and Gereon Rath for my esoteric side. ;>)

message 47: by Nyree (new)

Nyree I just love Dr. Siri Paiboun from The Coroner's lunch by Colin Cotterill, can't wait to read the next one.

message 48: by Jessica (new)

Jessica My favorite is Nancy Drew. She should have been on the list as well as the Hardy Boys and the Dana Girls.

message 49: by Jayna (new)

Jayna Miki wrote: "Sebastian St. Cyr, Aunt Dimity, Gemma James and Duncan Kincaid, Armand Gamache, ian Rutledge"

I think we are best reading friends. The only one missing is Bess Crawford.

message 50: by Tara (new)

Tara Absolutely Philip Marlowe!

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