In a different world (probably when age didn’t matter so much to me), I might have labeled these amateur detectives as “Old Biddies Solving Crime.” But since I’m starting the slippery slope toward old-biddie-dom myself, I thought I’d stick with something a tad more upbeat.
As Agatha Christie said (through Miss Marple), people tend to discount older people, so they’re the perfect sleuths. Not only do they have a lifetime of experience and patience, but they can drift into any situation by virtue of the fact that they are often underestimated. Throw in keen observation and a wicked wit, and even hardened criminals might want to watch their backs.
Miss Marple Series by Agatha Christie
Start with: The Murder at the Vicarage
- Miss Jane Marple, spinster sleuth extraordinaire, is introduced in this first mystery to feature her brilliant talents. Here she must use all her intuitive powers to solve the murder of the detested Colonel Protheroe when he is found shot in the local vicar’s study.
Mrs. Pargeter Series by Simon Brett
Start with: A Nice Class of Corpse
- When Melita Pargeter arrives at the Devereux, a respectable seaside retirement hotel, she finds that she’s the object of some strange glances and becomes involved in murder.
Miss Julia Series by Ann B. Ross
Start with: Miss Julia Speaks Her Mind
- Recently widowed and newly wealthy, Miss Julia is visited one day by Hazel Marie, who claims that her nine-year-old son is the child of Julia’s late husband, and when Julia is left to care for the child, she reveals the scandal that precipitated her husband’s death.
Mrs. Pollifax Series by Dorothy Gilman
Start with: Unexpected Mrs. Pollifax
- A widowed matron decides to pursue her lifelong desire to be a spy, finds herself useful to the CIA, and successfully completes an assignment which takes her from New Jersey to Mexico City to Albania.
Agatha Raisin Series by M.C. Beaton
Start with: Agatha Raisin and the Quiche of Death
- In order to introduce herself to the picturesque English village where she has just retired, Mrs. Agatha Raisin enters a quiche in a local competition and promptly finds herself a murder suspect when the judge dies from her poisonous pie.
The Puzzle Lady Series by Parnell Hall
Start with: A Clue for the Puzzle Lady
- Bakerhaven Police Chief Dale Harper is perplexed by a piece of evidence in his first murder investigation–an apparent crossword puzzle clue found on the body of a teenage girl–so he recruits the town’s famed “Puzzle Lady,” the eccentric author of a weekly syndicated crossword puzzle column.
Henrie O Series by Carolyn G. Hart
Start with: Dead Man’s Island
- A hurricane sweeps toward Chase Prescott’s private island, marooning a host of lethal suspects and the one woman who can sort through them all–Prescott’s former lover, retired newshound Henrietta O’Dwyer.
Aunt Dimity Series by Nancy Atherton
Start with: Aunt Dimity’s Death
- Summoned from her latest dreadful temp job by her lawyers, Lori Shephard discovers that Aunt Dimity–her mother’s favorite bedtime story heroine–was a real person who has left her millions and the challenge to solve an eerie mystery.
Dorothy Martin Series by Jeanne Dams
Start with: A Body in the Transept
- Struggling through a painful first holiday season after the death of her beloved husband, eccentric amateur sleuth Dorothy Martin finds further trouble when she discovers a dead body, but a handsome chief constable lifts her mood.
Victoria Trumbull Series by Cynthia Riggs
Start with: Deadly Nightshade
- When she discovers a mutilated body floating in the sea, Martha’s Vineyard resident Victoria Trumbull teams up with her granddaughter, Domingo the harbormaster, and other islanders to solve the mystery behind a growing number of homicides.
Biggie Weatherford Series by Nancy Bell
Start with: Biggie and the Poisoned Politician
- Biggie Weatherford, an eccentric and wealthy grandmother from the tiny East Texas town of Job’s Crossing, takes on city hall to halt a proposed garbage dump next to her ancestral graveyard, only to turn detective to solve the poisoning murder of the local mayor.
Sister Jane Foxhunting Series by Rita Mae Brown
Start with: Outfoxed
- In a mystery set in the high-class and tradition-bound world of Virginia foxhunting, the murder of a candidate for the coveted “joint-master” leaves many suspects among the social climbers vying for the position.
Murder, She Wrote Jessica Fletcher Series by Donald Bain
Start with: Gin and Daggers
- Cabot Cove’s own mystery writer and sleuth, Jessica Fletcher, travels to London to visit the grande dame of mystery novels, only to discover that the acclaimed author has been murdered.
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