9 Wonderful Lesser-Known British Crime Series


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If you're one of those people who reads every good British mystery novel you can get your hands on, it can be difficult to find a steady stream of new authors to read. Most of us know the Shetland or Cormoran Strike or Ruth Galloway books, but there are thousands of other British series just waiting to be discovered. In this post, we take a look at some of the wonderful but slightly less popular options.

9 Wonderful Lesser-Known British Crime Series

Tim Sullivan's DS Cross Mystery Series

The Dentist

Author Tim Sullivan's fans include some big names, including actors Stephen Fry and Richard E Grant and fellow author Elly Griffiths – and many are surprised to learn his DS Cross series was initially self-published (and it's still nowhere near as popular as his talents warrant). 

The series follows Bristol-based detective George Cross, an autistic man whose logic and determination make him as effective as he is irritating to his co-workers. While autistic (and autistic-ish) detectives have certainly been done before, Sullivan's books stand out because the crimes are interesting, the characters have depth, and it's clear he actually took time to learn more about the reasoning behind many autistic “quirks”.

Author Tim Sullivan has a background in TV, with credits that include Cold Feet, Shrek, and a My Little Pony movie. In podcasts, he's discussed the fact that initially, he was unable to get a publisher for the series because he was writing about an autistic man while having no personal experience of being autistic. After he passed the 200,000 download mark, however, Head of Zeus was quick to pick up the series. 

At time of writing, there were 6 books in the series, the first of them being The Dentist

Start Here: Kindle | Audiobook | Paperback | Bookshop.org (supports independent bookshops)


David Roberts's Lord Edward Corinth & Verity Browne Series

Sweet Poison

Set in the mid to late 1930s, this series follows an unlikely pair of amateur investigators – the younger son of a duke and a journalist committed to the Communist Party. Both are at the exclusive party of a duke when a prominent general collapses after drinking poisoned port. As they look for answers, they discover they actually make a pretty good team.

If you enjoyed Agatha Christie's Tommy & Tuppence books, Rhys Bowen's Royal Spyness series, or the Inspector Alleyn books/TV series, there's a good chance you'll also enjoy these. There are 10 books in the series, the first of which is Sweet Poison.

Start Here: Kindle | Audiobook | Paperback | Bookshop.org (supports independent bookshops)


Judith Cutler's Jane Cowan Series

Head Start

Judith Cutler is a long-time writer who's written a number of series, but the Jane Cowan series is unique in that it sees a teacher taking on the role of investigator. Jane Cowan has started a new life in Kent after the imprisonment of her abusive ex, but that idyllic fresh start is quickly shaken up when a mysterious intruder breaks into the school, followed by a suspicious playground accident. Fresh out of an abusive situation herself, she's not about to let her students become victims.

There are 3 Jane Cowan novels (though Cutler has written a number of other series), of which Head Start is the first book.

Start Here: Kindle | Audiobook | Paperback | Bookshop.org (supports independent bookshops)


Alex Scarrow's DCI Boyd Crime Thrillers

Silent Tide (2021)

Alex Scarrow's DCI Boyd series follows Bill Boyd, a middle aged detective who recently moved to Hastings from London with his daughter after the death of his wife and young son. If you're a person who enjoys some character in your procedurals, Boyd and his crew are easy to love. The books fall somewhere in the middle of the light/gruesome spectrum.

There are 10 DCI Boyd books at time of writing, and the first is Silent Tide.

Start Here: Kindle | Audiobook | Paperback | Bookshop.org (supports independent bookshops)


Marianne MacDonald's Dido Hoare Mystery Series

Death's Autograph

As the owner of an antiquarian bookshop in London, Dido Hoare enjoys a lifestyle many of us might love to have – except that she keeps running into murders. Investigating alongside her retired academic father Barnabas, the characters are easy to love – and the books aren't so gruesome that they'll keep you up at night. 

There are 8 Dido Hoare novels, beginning with Death's Autograph.

Start Here: Kindle | Audiobook | Paperback | Bookshop.org (supports independent bookshops)


DE White's Detective Dove Milson Series

Glass Dolls

D.E. White is one of those authors who've done a little bit of everything in the crime genre – from psychological thrillers to procedurals to a gentler historical series about a young woman who escapes violence in London to find a new home in Brighton (It's HERE if that's more your cup of tea). 

Glass Dolls, however, might be some of her best work. The series opens when detective Dove Milson has been called to a crime scene near the coast. A young girl has been murdered, encased in glass – the same way one of Dove's own nieces was killed. 

The murder seems to emulate a killer once known as the Glass Doll murderer, but as he's dead, no one is sure who's behind the gruesome scene. When another of Dove's nieces goes missing, she's worried the copycat is looking to imitate the Glass Doll murderer in more ways than one.

There are 5 Detective Dove Milson novels, beginning with Glass Dolls.

Start Here: Kindle | Audiobook | Paperback | Bookshop.org (supports independent bookshops)


Ronald Knox's Miles Bredon Series

The Three Taps

Ronald Knox was a priest and theologian who, in addition to writing theological works, also dabbled in detective mysteries. Educated at Eton and Oxford, he lived from 1888 to 1957, producing most of his detective fiction in his 30s and 40s – during the period widely known as the Golden Age of Detective Fiction. Sadly, church authorities disapproved of his detective novels, and that ultimately led to the end of his mystery writing.

Mystery nerds may recognise Ronald Knox as “the guy who wrote the 10 Commandments of Detective Fiction” – including the now laughable “No Chinaman must figure into the story” rule. 

As a mystery novelist, Knox is best known for his Miles Bredon books. Bredon is employed as a private detective for the “Indescribable Insurance Company”, and they describe him as their “representative”. Unlike many detectives, he's not a particularly driven man. Most cases mean very little to him, but on the rare occasion that one captures his interest, he becomes obsessed with getting to the bottom of things. Also unlike many detectives, he's a married man with no particular personal dramas.

There are 5 Miles Bredon novels and 1 short story, beginning with the 1927 novel The Three Taps. 

Start Here: Kindle | Audiobook | Paperback | Bookshop.org (supports independent bookshops)


Marty Wingate's Potting Shed Mysteries

The Garden Plot

If you're the sort of person who gets excited about re-watching Rosemary & Thyme or catching the new season of Gardeners' World (no judgment, we don't even garden and we love both), Marty Wingate's Potting Shed mysteries are well worth a read. Unlike most of the books on this list, Wingate is NOT British – but as a former gardening writer who spends a lot of time in England and Scotland, she's done her homework. 

The series follows Prunella “Pru” Parke, an American gardener who moves to London on a whim to fulfill a lifelong dream of living and gardening in England. Unfortunately, no one wants to hire her aside from a wealthy woman with a small project…and it doesn't take long before she's digging up a body.

There are 8 Potting Shed mysteries, beginning with The Garden Plot.

Start Here: Kindle | Audiobook | Paperback | Bookshop.org (supports independent bookshops)


Cath Staincliffe's Sal Kilkenny Mystery Series

Looking for Trouble

Not all British TV fans will recognise Cath Staincliffe's name, but you may be familiar with her work. She was the creator and scriptwriter for Blue Murder, an ITV series that ran from 2003 to 2009, starring Caroline Quentin (Jonathan Creek). She's also the writer of the spin-off books for the Scott & Bailey TV series. Based on those two projects alone, it's no surprise that she's very good at writing realistic, relatable female protagonists.

Set in Manchester, the books follow Sal Kilkenny, a single mother and private investigator. It's a job she loves – at least until her search for a woman's missing son drags her into the worst of Manchester's dark underbelly. 

At time of writing, there are 8 Sal Kilkenny mysteries, of which Looking for Trouble is the first.

Start Here: Kindle | Audiobook | Paperback | Bookshop.org (supports independent bookshops)


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Lesser-Known British Crime Novels

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