I'm looking for dark, character-driven police procedurals to read - mysteries along the lines of Tana French's IN THE WOODS or Stef Penney's THE INVISIBLE ONES - stories that focus less on the crime, and more on the investigation, preferably with a detective as the main character. Any suggestions? Thanks!

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Michael Connelly is always good. If you're ever in the mood for a PI thriller, my debut Pocket-47 is only $1.99 for Kindle now. http://tiny.cc/7af5t

The Tony Hill series by Val McDermid are fairly interesting: the first one is, the Mermaids singing. Her stand alone novels, A Place of Execution, and The Grave Tattoo, are really good as well.  

Thanks for the suggestions! I'll definitely check them out. And Jude - I've heard great things about Pocket-47.

I'm doing prep work for a work-for-hire novel deal I can't announce yet that has a really short turnaround time, so I can only read a couple of novels at most before I'll have to start writing -

I'm looking for less of a thriller (which I read all the time and LOVE), and more of a convoluted kind of slow-burn, intense mystery, if that makes sense - something that depends less on plot, and really goes deeply into character . . .

A lot of the British mysteries are written in this style: Ian Rankin, Frost, etc., but also check out Sandra Ruttan's series.

Sounds a bit like Raymond Chandler.

What about Lehane's Mystic River?

A Place of Execution was made into a BBC Masterpiece Theater which is a good example of a slow-burn, character driven, intense edge-of-seat mystery that I can think of. It may be at your local library or, I sure net-flix would have it. :)

Thanks, Grant and Eric - how interesting that this description fits a lot of the British writers (and that the two I originally mentioned are also non-U.S. authors), because the project I'm working on is originally from Denmark. (Wish I could say more, but my agent has asked me not to until the contracts are signed - it's just way early days, and the whole project might not come about if I don't deliver a satisfactory manuscript).

As it happens, I have Peter James' DEAD LIKE YOU on my bookshelf - Peter's a fellow ITW board member, so when I saw his book in the bookstore in the U.S., I picked it up, but I haven't yet cracked it open (it's 550 pages!). I have Lehane's MYSTIC RIVER too, though the only book I've read by him is THE GIVEN DAY, which I enjoyed.

This is REALLY helpful - I'm so glad I asked the question!

Most of the Scandinavian mysteries are that way.  So are Charles Todd's.

Val McDermid writes forensic thrillers, at least for those titles that were mentioned.  MERMAIDS SINGING is a shocker, but probably the only true thriller (serial killer) that I found to be well written and plotted.

Very few American writers use the police procedural method (apart from the 87th Precinct series written by Ed McBain) - but one series you should look into that fits that style with an American twist are the X-Files books written by Kevin J. Anderson. He spends as much time with the two main characters as the mystery. Also, the Bones series by Kathy Reichs - especially her debut, Déjà Dead. And another Brit, Scottish writer Stuart McBride does a nice job with his Aberdeen-set series.

And for something that might not immediately come to mind, but are actually written in a very similar fashion are the Star Trek books written by Judith and Garfield Reeves-Stevens. In these books, the interaction of the characters is often more important than the sweeping plot.

Grant - I.J. - D. L. R. - all terrific suggestions, thanks!

Try Mark Billingham's IN THE DARK. Not part of his Tom Thorne series, though Thorne makes a cameo. Wonderful book that focuses on the investigation and how it affects the victims.


Check out my police procedural series featuring Colombian-born Homicide Detective John Santana. The latest book in the series, Bad Weeds Never Die, was recently selected as 2011 Best Mystery/Thriller of the Year by Rebecca's Reads.


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