• Lindsey Chastain

The best book series to keep you entertained during quarantine (and long after)

Louise Penny's Inspector Gamache Series

I have read ever single book in this series and will preorder any new books from Louise Penny. I will probably be inconsolable when the series ends.

The characters in these novels feel like best friends. I want to move to Three Pines and hang out in the hotel cafe and spend time with the amazing people in the books.

They are also mysteries. Inspector Gamache is a highly intelligent and compassionate detective who will constantly have you jotting down quotes to live by from his observations.

Penny's language and writing is so well done that it seems effortless. You will also gain at lot of cultural knowledge reading these books. They are just overall, some of the best books I have ever read.

*You must read them in order to follow the story lines of the characters.* The Audible narrator is also amazing.

Will Thomas' Cyrus Barker Series

If you love period mysteries, this series is for you.

Cyrus Barker and Thomas Llewelyn are a fantastic reimagining of the Holmes and Watson duo. Barker is mysterious and Llewelyn is just your average human being who found himself the assistant to a fantastic inquiry agent (not detective).

I get sucked in by the crimes to be solved, but also with the history and the culture of the time. Thomas has a very apparent interest in Chinese culture that appears throughout the books.

I am reading and listening through this series now and find that I do not want to break at all from these books to read anything else.

I do recommend reading in order and the Audible narrator is well worth listening to.

Lyndsay Faye's The God of Gotham Series and other novels

Yes, another period mystery series. I have a weakness. There will be more.

Lyndsay Faye captures a time period so very well that you are immersed in the era.

The Gods of Gotham is a trilogy set in New York City in 1845. The series hero is Timothy Wilde, a bartender in the city whose brother gets him a job in the NYPD after a fire devastates Manhatten. Wilde is an unlikely hero, but one that I truly will never forget.

I would also recommend reading anything else Lyndsay Faye has written. The Paragon Hotel is a fantastic novel about prohibition in Utah and I have more of her novels on my reading list. Audible narrators are fantastic.

Neil Schusterman's Scythe series

This YA series was recommended to be by my teenage son. I'll admit that besides Harry Potter, I don't read YA. But he told me I HAD to read this trilogy. I was blown away.

Imagine a world where everything is perfect. There is no more hunger, no more death, no more disease. My son and I have had long discussion about motivation and purpose in a perfect world, but that's not what this story is about.

Without death, the population must be controlled, and that is the duty of the Order of the Scythes. The book follows two teenagers who are chosen to become scythes and the training, struggles and corruption they face. The characters are well done and the struggles apply to anyone facing difficult decisions.

I can not comment on the Audible versions as I did not listen to any of the books. Read in order.

Rachel Caine's Stillhouse Lake series

This series is available on Kindle Unlimited and that is why I started reading it. If you have good Kindle Unlimited suggestions, please comment below!

This is what I would consider a guilty pleasure series. Fast paced murder mysteries I would describe as similar to The Following with Kevin Bacon.

Somewhat predictable, but infinitely entertaining. Gina Royal is the heroine of this series, the ex-wife of a serial killer who just will not leave her alone.

I love the characters in the book and how much the books feel like an elongated hour television program.

I can't say the writing is stellar, but it is good. I can not comment on the Audible versions. Read in order.

Jonathan L. Howards' Johannes Cabal series

Sometimes, literature gives you a character that you don't know how you lived without and that you will never forget. Johannes Cabal is one of those characters.

Cabal is a necromancer who makes a deal with the devil, twice and has a brother who is a vampire. The Faust style tales are gothic, hilarious and infinitely hard to describe.

In the first novel of the series the devil proposes a wager, he will give Cabal his soul back if he can convince 100 people to voluntarily give up their souls within a year. He is given a travelling carnival to complete the task. And he enlists the help of some very unusual (and not entirely alive) help.

I have tried over and over to explain this series to people and always find it difficult. Read it. Laugh. Read it again. Try to explain it to other people and fail. Decide to just read it again. You won't regret it. Read in order.

J.K. Rowling writing as Robert Gilbraith's Cormoran Strike series

I'm not listing Harry Potter here, because I think that's just a given. But I will mention J.K. Rowling's adult murder mystery series.

These books have everything you loved about Harry Potter minus the magic. The characterization is amazing. The writing is effortless. The story lines keep you entertained and guessing until the last minute.

Cormoran Strike is a veteran with one leg who has a failing detective agency until he solves a huge murder. His secretary Robin is the girl we all want to be (if you love mysteries). Strike is grumpy and pretty much a mess, but also a brilliant detective.

There are four books right now and I am waiting impatiently for the next one.

Caleb Karr's Lazlo Kreizler series

There are currently only two books in this series, but they are lengthy and worth every word. There is a TV show based on the first book that's also worth a watch, but do not skip the book.

Lazlo Kreizler is an alienist who has a theory. The psychology and background of a person can help solve crimes. Consider this the birth of the profiler.

Kritzler teams up with a journalist and s couple of police officers who are developing new techniques others see as crazy, like finger printing.

The murders are grizzly. The characters are astounding, and the dark overlay gives the books an eerie gothic quality.

Read in order.

Kim Harrison's The Hollows series

This is another one of my guilty pleasures. The Hollows is the area of Cincinnati where all of the creatures of the night live. You have witches, vampires, werewolves, fairies, elves and more living in peace and harmony (sort of) with humans after The Turn where genetically modified tomatoes killed off a lot of the human population, but the supernatural were immune.

Rachel is a sexy bounty hunter who has a living vampire roommate and a hovel of pixies.

Though on the surface, it sounds a bit hokey, the characters are great, the struggles are real, life is real and you get a lot of good laughs and romance.

If you like True Blood or just prefer that your vampires don't sparkle, give this series a try. Read in order.

Honorable Mentions

Nora Robert's Year One series

Steig Larson's Millennium series (The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo)

W. Michael Gear and Kathleen O'Neal Gear's North America's Forgotten Past series - This one only gets a honorable mention because the books are hard to find. Start with People of the Wolf.

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