Favorite Mysteries for Bibliophiles

If you love books, what could be better than reading books about books, or books about being inside books or people who get to hang around books. (That was a statement, not a question.) Here are some of my favorite bibliophile mysteries and thrillers.

The Shadow of the Wind and The Angel’s Game by Carlos Ruiz Zafón

A thriller set in Barcelona in 1945, The Shadow of the Wind, follows the story of a book dealer’s son who loves a book called Shadow of the Wind, but someone is out to destroy all copies of the book and the boy may have the last one. His curiosity leads him to stumble upon secrets that the book destroyer wants kept secret.

After Shadow, Zafón wrote The Angel’s Game about an unpublished novelist who takes a deal to be published that’s too good to be true. Also set in Barcelona, the protagonist, David, in The Angel’s Game is accused on a string of murders related to the novel and starts to wonder if he’s going crazy.

The Club Dumas by Arturo Pérez-Reverte

Also set in Spain, an antiquarian book seller/expert/tracker, Lucas Corso, is asked to do two separate jobs: authenticate part of an original manuscript of Alexandre Dumas’s The Three Musketeers and authenticate one of three books that supposedly summon the Devil. That’s the beginning of the trouble for Corso that takes him through the intersection of the two jobs, through plot twists that pay homage to Dumas’s other work and an encounter with a character named after Arthur Conan Doyle’s Irene Adler. It is nearly impossible to describe this book in a paragraph. You’ll just have to go read it for yourself.

The Thursday Next series by Jasper Fforde

This series involves characters who can hop in and out of books as they solve crime and try to protect the book world. There is some time travel involved and a lot of humor. A combination of fantasy and mystery these books are great fun, but suspension of disbelief is required. The first three books of this series are the best, so I recommend starting with The Eyre Affair in which Thursday Next tries to protect massive plot deviations that could have lasting ramifications for Jane and Mr. Rochester.

The Death on Demand Series by Carolyn G. Hart

Annie Laurance Darling owns a mystery bookstore on a fictional Coastal Carolina Island called Broward’s Rock. She runs into more murder on an average week than Jessica Fletcher did in a small town in Maine on Murder, She Wrote. Annie and her husband, the handsome lawyer turned detective, Max, work together to solve murders, sell books, and hold Agatha Christie book contests at the store.

The Cliff Janeway books by John Dunning

Cliff Janeway, a former cop who can’t quite leave this old job behind, becomes a seller of rare books in Denver. His quest for books always leads him into trouble. Simon and Schuster recently released the first two Janeway books—Booked to Die and Bookman’s Wake—as e-books. All of these books are are great reads and worth digging out at a used book store.

The Cotton Malone books by Steve Berry

More thriller than mystery, ex-Justice Department operative Cotton Malone, like Janeway retires and tries to hang out stress-free as an antiquarian book dealer in Copenhagen, but he can’t quite manage it. These fast paced books take Cotton on the search for valuable historical information and works, like the Library of Alexandria or the clues in Charlemagne’s tomb that can alter the course of mankind. Start with the first book, The Templar Legacy, because you don’t want to miss an installment of this series.

What are some of your favorite bibliophile mysteries and thrillers?

Deborah Lacy likes speakeasies, yellow heirloom tomatoes, and crime fiction. She blogs over at Mystery Playground and at Criminal Element. You can find her on Twitter @quippy.

Read all posts by Deborah Lacy for Criminal Element.


  1. Clydia DeFreese

    I love Carolyn Hart’s “Death on Demand” series, as well as her Henri O
    series. I love to re-read Dorothy Gilman’s “Mrs. Pollifax “series…long out of print. Margaret Maron hit winners with” Deborah Knotts” after striking out (I thought) with her Sigrid Harald NYC character. I loved Nevada Barr’s “Anna Pigeon” books—lots of interesting info in them. I liked the Sujata Massey books. Marcia Muller ‘s Sharon McCone remains a favorite….her others…not so much, and of course
    Amelia Peabody books by Elizabeth Peters remain my choice books!
    Lots of other authors’ books reside temporarily on my book shelves, but usually they go on to the used book sales at the library. Those people who don’t read miss so much…….

  2. Deborah Lacy

    @clydia – You are so right, I love the Mrs. Pollifax books. I haven’t tried Margaret Maron or Sujata Massey but I will add it to the TBR pile. I do love mysteries set in the book world. Thank you for your comment.

  3. Lakis Fourouklas

    There’s a series of eBook shorts called Bibli0mysteries coming out by a publisher in the U.S. I’ve especially enjoyed Jeffery Deaver’s An Acceptable Sacrifice.

  4. Deborah Lacy

    @LakisFourouklas – I hadn’t heard of the eBook shorts Bibliomysteries. Do you know which publisher and how they are selling it?

    I love Jeffery Deaver and somehow I missed An Acceptable Sacrifice. I’ve added it to my TBR pile.

  5. Deborah Lacy

    @LakisFourouklas – I hadn’t heard of the eBook shorts Bibliomysteries. Do you know which publisher and how they are selling it?

    I love Jeffery Deaver and somehow I missed An Acceptable Sacrifice. I’ve added it to my TBR pile.

  6. Lakis Fourouklas

    I have tried to reply yesterday without a success so I’ve decided to give it another go today: The publishers are Mysterious Press and Open Road Media and I think that by now they have published 8 books in the series, including one by Laura Lippman that comes out today.

  7. Deborah Lacy

    @LakisFourouklas – Thank you for coming back and sharing the publisher names. I’m sorry you had a tough time. I am very glad you succeeded, though, because now I know how to find them. Thank you again. Have a great night.

  8. Eleanor (Ellie) Miller

    Running a week behind here, but I can’t resist adding my one-and-a-half cents worth anent one of my favorite categories of mystery fiction to this discussion. Agree with your own choices, especially John Dunning and Jasper Fforde, but let me also suggest some wonderfully evocative, ‘bookcentric’ additional authors for your list: Julie Kaewert, Marianne Macdonald and Joanne Dobson. Kaewert’s six Alex Plumtree novels are all sub-titled “A Booklover’s Mystery” with “Unsolicited” as the first in the series. Alex is the latest member of his family’s publishing dynasty to run Plumtree Press in London, and his delightful adventures dealing with book-related murder and mayhem are both literate and very likeable. Macdonald also sets her eight Dido Hoare adventures (“Death’s Autograph is the first) in London where Dido’s antiquarian bookshop becomes the catalyst for some very puzzling and intriguing mysteries. Dobson’s English professor Karen Pellatier is based at Enfield College in New England, and the six novels in this exciting series each focus around a specific author ranging from Emily Dickinson (“Quieter than Sleep” – first in series) to Dashiel Hammett. You can find additional titles and chronology via Fantastic Fiction online, and I’ve been able to fill all three series used thru abebooks.com.

  9. Deborah Lacy

    @EllieMNV – Thank you so much for the suggestions. It always fun to get more book recommendations, especially when people tell you about what they really love.

  10. JFN

    The name of Jasper Fforde’s character is THURSDAY NEXT! I can’t believe no one caught this until now.

  11. Laura K. Curtis

    @JFN – Right you are! Corrected and thanks.

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