Valerie Biel Asks Who Are Your Favorite Mystery Series’ Sleuths?

Valerie Biel Asks Who Are Your Favorite Mystery Series’ Sleuths?

Valerie Biel writes the Circle of Nine series. You can find out more about her here.

Cover of J.D. Robb's latest book, Shadows in Death

A happy ping told me that my preorder of JD Robb’s latest book arrived on my Kindle today. Shadows in Death is the 51st book in the homicide detective “In Death” series set in futuristic New York City written by Nora Roberts as JD Robb. Eve Dallas kicks butt by day (and by night) and always catches the murderer. It doesn’t hurt that she gets to chase suspects with her gorgeous, billionaire Irish husband at her side. The rest of the recurring cast of characters are delightful and fun and have been developed over the course of numerous books. Eve is definitely one of my favorite sleuths. But why? She’s tough but vulnerable at times. She’s a smart ass who is frustrated by stupidity, and she sticks up for people who don’t have anyone else. Her background as an abused child (and there’s a very long story there), makes her even more likeable as she’s overcome so much. So, twice a year, I get my Eve Dallas fix! That book is waiting for me right now. I shall write fast!

Trixie Belden

A set of Trixie Belden novels

Trixie Belden was my first mystery-series obsession. My sisters (I’m the youngest of six) had read themselves up until a certain point in this series and then unceremoniously abandoned her for more enticing teen reads. I sank into these well-worn (shall we say—tattered) mysteries, completing one after another. When I came to the end of what was in the bookshelf, I would tag along with my mom to her weekly hair appointment so I could go to the dime store for the next one in the series. The series has 39 books, written between 1948 and 1986, and I own most of them. Do you remember Trixie? Thirteen-year-old Beatrix Belden lives at Crabapple Farm in Sleepyside-on-Hudson in New York with her parents and three brothers. When a lonely, rich girl moves into the Manor house next door, Trixie becomes fast friends with Honey Wheeler and they soon find themselves solving their first case. The best thing about Trixie is that she listens to her gut instincts, even though she’s often admonished for jumping to conclusions.

Nancy Drew

My Nancy Drew years overlapped with my Trixie Belden years a bit. Older, more sophisticated, and impressively accomplished, Nancy Drew’s mystery-solving capabilities were enticing. It makes me laugh a little now to read how she was described as “a fine painter, speaker of fluent French, skilled moto boat driver, a sure shot, an excellent swimmer, skillful oarsman, expert seamstress, gourmet cook, a fine bridge player, brilliant at tennis, golf, dancing, and riding—plus she could administer first aid like the Mayo brothers.” Phew! The series began in 1930 and ended in 2003 with a number of adaptations along the way—plus a few TV series and movies. A couple of years ago, I read Christine Keleny’s Will the Real Carolyn Keene Please Stand Up, a detailed look at the different authors who took on the persona of Carolyn Keene for prolific series’ creator Edward Stratemeyer, who also created the Hardy Boys and the Bobbsey Twins. (Were you a fan of those, too?)

With Trixie and Nancy as my gateway drugs to mystery binge reading, I moved on to Agatha Christie’s Miss Marple, Sue Grafton’s Kinsey Millhone, The Women’s Murder Club by James Patterson, and the laugh-out-loud antics of Stephanie Plum created by Janet Evanovich. And then Faye Kellerman, Lisa Unger, Hank Phillippi Ryan, Stieg Larsson, Lee Child, Lisa Regan, Stuart Woods, Patricia Skalka, and so many, many more.

I’m so very curious who your favorite sleuths are . . . who tugged you into mystery reading? Which series has you eagerly awaiting the next release?

You can learn more about Valerie Biel and the Circle of Nine series on her website at www.ValerieBiel.com and on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.

Valerie Biel

Valerie Biel is the author of the award-winning Circle of Nine series (stories inspired by Celtic mythology and the stone circles of Ireland). Learn more about her on her website valeriebiel.com, or follow her on Twitter, Facebook, or Instagram.

This Post Has 15 Comments

  1. Avatar
    Laurie Buchanan

    Valerie — I laughed when you wrote, “… my gateway drugs to mystery binge reading.” I can relate with the books you listed and will add Harriet the Spy (my hero when I was a kid) and Mrs. Pollifax a bit later.

    I got to meet Hank Phillippi Ryan a few years ago when speaking at the Writers’ Institute. I’ve never missed a book of hers since.

    1. Valerie Biel
      Valerie Biel

      Hi Laurie — That’s where I met her, too. She was lovely to talk with. I totally forgot about Harriet the Spy — another favorite!! – Valerie

  2. Margaret Mizushima

    I was a Nancy Drew fan and picked up all of her books from our local library. My favorite sleuth in recent time has to be Kinsey Millhone, created by Sue Grafton! Love that girl! And she also has an intriguing back story, and I agree that makes the series more interesting. Thanks for a great post, Valerie!

    1. Valerie Biel
      Valerie Biel

      Hi Margaret – I need to finish reading the last few of that series. Funny story . . . just after we moved into a new house 20 years ago, we didn’t have any cable/satellite TV hooked up and my husband was away for an extended time for work. My mother-in-law sent me the entire Grafton series — I forget what letter we were up to at that point. I was so excited to get that box of books, which kept me company after the kiddos were put to bed each night for quite a few weeks. 🙂 – Valerie

  3. Avatar
    Saralyn Richard

    I read Bobbsey Twins, Nancy Drew, Hardy Boys, Judy Bolton, and graduated to Sherlock Holmes, Hercule Poirot, V.I. Warshawski, and Harry Bosch. There’s nothing like a good mystery to stimulate the brain and the heart!

    1. Valerie Biel
      Valerie Biel

      Hi Saralyn,
      I forgot about the Bobbsey Twins. I loved the Bobbsey Twins!
      – Valerie

  4. Joy Ribar
    Joy Ribar

    Along with the series you and others have mentioned (along with Harriet the Spy — loved her!), I enjoy Agatha Raisin and China Bayles. Any mystery setting that allows me to escape my “normal” world, is always welcome.

  5. Valerie Biel
    Valerie Biel

    Hi Joy,
    Yes, that’s exactly what a good mystery should do!
    Wish I had more time in each day for reading. – Valerie

  6. Avatar
    Christine Keleny

    Looking over this website for the first time and see a familiar book cover. Thanks for sharing, Val. You’re a peach!

    1. Valerie Biel
      Valerie Biel

      Hi Christine, I totally forgot to tell you I was mentioning your book. But, hey, whenever I talk about Nancy Drew, I always think about your book and everything I learned from it about the authors who wrote as Carolyn Keene. – Val

    1. Valerie Biel
      Valerie Biel

      She was the best! I should reread some of those books when I find some free time. I saw another writer post a photo of her weekend read — Nancy Drew. 🙂 You’re never too old to enjoy these sleuths. – Valerie

  7. Sherrill M Joseph
    Sherrill M Joseph

    Without a doubt, Nancy Drew! I still have the entire collection. As a kid, I used to write adventures (short stories) for Nancy and her friends and make shoebox dioramas of her mysteries.

    1. Valerie Biel
      Valerie Biel

      That’s fabulous. Do you have any pictures of your dioramas? That’d be a treasure! – Valerie

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