Best Mystery Series: Listens That'll Take You Right to the Crime Scene

From murder mysteries to private detective novels, these mystery series will have you sleuthing for the tiniest clues in the most unlikely places, all in standout audio format.

While a standalone mystery is great when you're in the mood for a one-and-done, sometimes you want to feed your craving with an entire mystery series—knowing there's a world and characters you can keep coming back to for the satisfaction of solving unsolved crimes. With audiobooks, you get the added bonus of sinking deeper into the setting, clues, and suspects as the story is performed for you, so you'll feel like you're alongside detectives, ready to bust a case. Here are the best mystery book series, spanning the gamut from procedurals to historical whodunits.

Trouble Is a Friend of Mine

Trouble series

Haunted by questions surrounding his sister's mysterious disappearance eight years ago, the brilliant and persistent Philip Digby ropes the new girl in town, Zoe Webster, into helping him find answers. Hijinks, friendship, and possible crushing ensue as Digby pulls Zoe into digging into suspicious happenings and flirting with danger. Listening to the audiobooks, all narrated by actress and award-winning narrator Kathleen McInerney, feels a lot like watching a season of Veronica Mars crossed with Sherlock. There are two more novels in this series, which is completed, at least for now: Trouble Makes a Comeback and Trouble Never Sleeps.

Truly Devious

Truly Devious series

If you love mysteries, you’ll love Johnson's nod to the genre with this trilogy. Stevie Bell can’t wait to start school at the elite Ellingham Academy and get away from her family. Most importantly, she can't wait to put her crime-solving skills to work on the mystery of who kidnapped the school founder’s wife and daughter back in the ‘30s. Playing with past and present riddles, and filled with winks to the mystery genre, this is a fun trilogy to get lost in. It's perfectly brought to life by narrator Kate Rudd, who you may know from her narration of John Green’s The Fault in Our Stars. The two other books completing this trilogy are The Vanishing Stair and The Hand on the Wall.

A is for Alibi

Kinsey Millhone Mysteries series

If you like your PIs wise and armed with a smart mouth, please let me introduce you to one of the savviest, sassiest, and most popular: Kinsey Millhone. Starting in the ‘80s in a fictional California town, we follow along in alphabetical order as the divorced ex-cop-turned-PI tackles all kinds of cases and no-gooders, from scammers to murderers. Prolific narrator Mary Peiffer and Broadway singer and actress Judy Kaye bring Millhone’s tough and sarcastic character to life. This completed series ended when author Sue Grafton passed away after writing volume Y; the family is respecting her wishes to not have anyone else write Z. The entire series is as follows: B is for Burglar, C is for Corpse, D is for Deadbeat, E is for Evidence, F is for Fugitive, G is for Gumshoe, H is for Homicide, I is for Innocent, J is for Judgement, K is for Killer, L is for Lawless, M is for Malice, N is for Noose, O is for Outlaw, P is for Peril, Q is for Quarry, R is for Ricochet, S is for Silence, T is for Trespass, U is for Undertow, V is for Vengeance, W is for Wasted, X, Y is for Yesterday.

Unquiet Dead

Rachel Getty and Esa Khattak series

Travel the world with Esa Khattak and Rachel Getty, Canadian detectives working for a department that handles minority-sensitive cases. Written with lyrical richness by British-born Canadian author Ausma Zehanat Khan, this series is filled with great mysteries, fantastic characters, and a ton of heart, and it travels the world, shining a light on important social issues. The reason you should definitely go with the audio edition? Award-winning actor Peter Ganim’s deep, lovely voice. In addition to its acclaimed 2015 debut, this series currently has four more novels: The Language of Secrets, Among the Ruins, A Dangerous Crossing, A Deadly Divide.

Land of Shadows

Detective Elouise Norton series

Widely praised best-selling author Rachel Howzell Hall delivers the perfect mystery series for fans of procedurals (especially TV detective shows) that focus first on the case but also give you enough private life scenes to really know the characters, especially the main crime-solver. Meet LA Homicide Detective Elouise “Lou” Norton. She has a cheating husband, a new partner at work, a sister who went missing in childhood, and case after case of criminals that need to be brought to justice. Smart and snarky, she's a character you’ll root for throughout the series, which so far has three entries beyond its debut volume: Skies of Ash, Trail of Echoes, and City of Saviors.

In the Woods

Dublin Murder Squad series

If you’ve yet to discover the fantastic, Edgar Award-winning Tana French and her Dublin Murder Squad, today is your lucky day. This procedural series can also be enjoyed as a collection of standalones, as each book focuses on a different detective in the squad. You get a deep dive into the department, the case at hand, and the featured detective's life, thoughts, and inner turmoil. It’s an especially satifying listen if you’re looking to sink deep into a mystery. Each audiobook has a distinct narrator, perfectly suited to bring a different detective to life. And the first two novels were adapted into a Starz series entitled Dublin Murders. The series currently has five entries beyond its debut: The Likeness, Faithful Place, Broken Harbor, The Secret Place, and The Trespasser.

The Dime

Detective Betty series

Betty Rhyzyk has left behind her Brooklyn police detective days and moved to Dallas with her doctor girlfriend. She’s hard as nails, but haunted by her past and keeps talking to her dead uncle's ghost for advice. And good advice is something she really needs when her case goes so sideways that it ends up nowhere near what she began investigating. A best-selling author of historical fiction who recently ventured into mysteries, Kathleen Kent delivers an awesome and intense ride you won’t be able to pause. So far, this series has an equally thrilling sequel: The Burn.

Bluebird, Bluebird

Highway 59 series

Locke is a gifted writer of both novels and screenplays. In this novel, she vividly brings to life East Texas and Darren Mathews, a Black Texas Ranger whose attempt to be a good samaritan gets him suspended. But that doesn’t stop him from needing to solve the murder of a white woman and Black man in a small town where tensions are super high. Award-winning narrator JD Jackson’s beautiful, deep voice captures the character of Darren Matthews and East Texas. This entry into the series is followed by the sequel: Heaven, My Home.

Devil in a Blue Dress

Easy Rawlins series

Welcome to best-selling author Walter Mosley’s signature detective series, which begins in the 1940s and progresses through the civil rights era. It follows Easy Rawlins: a Black WWII veteran who kicks off his PI career by taking a job to locate a white femme fatale. Rawlins is a no-nonsense investigator surrounded by great characters in a gritty series. The audiobooks are mostly narrated by well-known TV actor Michael Boatman, who perfectly voices the role. The definition of hard-boiled detective fiction, this series currently has 13 more installments: A Red Death, White Butterfly, Black Betty, A Little Yellow Dog, Gone Fishin’, Bad Boy Brawly Brown, Six Easy Pieces, Little Scarlet, Cinnamon Kiss, Blonde Faith, Little Green, Rose Gold, and Charcoal Joe.

The Last Place You Look

The Roxane Weary Mysteries series

If you like down-on-their-luck PIs who actually work to get their lives turned around, you’ll love rooting for Weary, the Ohio PI who manages to end up solving cases even when she’s reluctant to get involved. With a dead father who was a police officer, and two ill-advised relationships, her personal life isn’t great, so she keeps focused by solving cases. This one is perfect for fans of twisty mysteries with thriller endings and narrators who are perfect at nailing dry humor and exhausted-by-life characters. So far, there are three more entries, with one releasing a year: What You Want to See, The Stories You Tell, and Once You Go This Far.

The Unexpected Inheritance of Inspector Chopra

A Baby Ganesh Agency Investigation series

Vaseem Khan's delightful and entertaining series walks the line between cozy and crime with a quirky twist. Inspector Chopra retires from the police force, inherits a baby elephant, and becomes a PI solving important cases in India. Actors Sartaj Garewal and Madhav Sharma will transport you on a trip through India. The series currently has four more novels: The Perplexing Theft of the Jewel in the Crown, The Strange Disappearance of a Bollywood Star, Murder at the Grand Raj Palace, and Bad Day at the Vulture Club.

Broken Places

Chicago Mysteries series

After a traumatic work incident, police officer Cass Raines quits, manages an apartment building, and takes on cases as a PI. When her father figure, a priest, is murdered, she’ll stop at nothing to get answers. Raines is surrounded by complex and fascinating characters, including a breaks-the-mold nun, and Shari Peele narrates with a smooth voice that brings Raines's great heart and humor to life. It all adds up to a promising Chicago-set mystery series from native Chicagoan Tracy Clark. So far, this listen has a sequel: Borrowed Time.

A Study in Scarlet Women

Lady Sherlock series

In a delightful reimagining of Sherlock Holmes, author Sherry Thomas depicts Charlotte Holmes, a famed detective. Though she is recovering from a disgraceful incident, Holmes remains very practical and loves her desserts. If you’re a fan of mysteries, laughs, and women who charge forward regardless of society's rules, you’ll love Lady Sherlock. With the epic Wheel of Time series under her belt and multiple awards, narrator Kate Reading expertly brings Victorian society and Charlotte Holmes's antics to life. Currently there are four novels with the fifth releasing in fall of 2020: A Conspiracy in Belgravia, The Hollow of Fear, The Art of Theft, and Murder on Cold Street.

A Rising Man

Sam Wyndham series

Opening in 1919, this clever mystery series is perfect for fans of procedurals and historical mysteries. Former Scotland Yard detective Sam Wyndham is now in charge of a new post in the British-ruled Calcutta police force. Wyndham was hoping to leave his troubles behind, but his PTSD and opium addiction have followed. Now he’s hoping to stay afloat while solving crimes and trying to navigate politics and racism. There are three more novels thus far: A Necessary Evil, Smoke and Ashes, and Death in the East.

A Curious Beginning

Veronica Speedwell Mysteries series

If you want adventure, fun, laughs, mysteries, family drama, and a will-they-or-won’t-they romantic subplot, this is your series. Veronica Speedwell is an adventurous lepidopterist in 1880s London who ends up paired up with a reclusive and grumpy natural historian, Stoker. The two embark on adventures as they travel, solving mysteries and trying to stay alive. Narrator Angele Masters fantastically brings Speedwell’s wit and spirit to life. And if you’re hooked, you’re in luck—there are four more novels in the series, which has been growing annually: A Perilous Undertaking, A Treacherous Curse, A Dangerous Collaboration, and A Murderous Relation.

The Black Echo: Harry Bosch Series, Book 1

Harry Bosch series

LAPD homicide detective Harry Bosch isn’t here for corruption or crime. But this Vietnam vet is exactly the hero LA needs in this gritty, dark crime procedural series from internationally best-selling author Michael Connelly. Marathon the audiobooks and watch the exciting Amazon adaptation starring Titus Welliver, who also narrates a special Audible edition of The Black Echo. So far this is a 22 book series: The Black Ice, The Concrete Blonde, The Last Coyote, Trunk Music, Angels Flight, A Darkness More than Night, City of Bones, Lost Light, The Narrows, The Closers, Echo Park, The Overlook, Nine Dragons, The Drop, The Black Box, The Burning Room, The Crossing, The Wrong Side of Goodbye, Two Kinds of Truth, Dark Sacred Night, and The Night Fire.

Special Circumstances

Mike Daley/Rosie Fernandez Legal Thrillers series

This series is perfect for fans of cynical humor, legal thrillers, and unique characters. It isn’t every day we get to follow an ex-priest, past public defender, and now fired partner from a prominent law firm. So what’s he doing with his time? Trying to clear his former colleague from double murder charges, of course. With a deep, slightly gravelly voice, award-winning narrator Tim Campbell expertly navigates listeners through this high-energy courtroom drama. Currently there are 11 books in the series: Incriminating Evidence, Criminal Intent, Final Verdict, The Confession, Judgment Day, Perfect Alibi, Felony Murder Rule, Serve and Protect, Hot Shot, The Dreamer.

Still Life

Chief Inspector Gamache/Three Pines series

Welcome to Three Pines, a rural village south of Montreal, where Chief Inspector of the Surêté du Québec, Armand Gamache, and his team investigate all types of crimes—usually murder. Gamache is thoughtful and kind, and surrounded by eccentric town residents as he solves case after case. A five-time winner of the Agatha Award, author Louise Penny offers a wonderful series to sink into. It isn’t fully cozy but never goes into the grim and dark details of grittier series. Ralph Cosham brought a rich portrayal of Gamache and residents to life for most of the series until his passing, when award-winning English actor Robert Bathurst took over narration. Currently, the series has 16 entries: A Fatal Grace, The Cruelest Month, A Rule Against Murder, The Brutal Telling, Bury Your Dead, A Trick of the Light, The Beautiful Mystery, How the Light Gets In, The Long Way Home, The Nature of the Beast, A Great Reckoning, Glass Houses, Kingdom of the Blind, A Better Man, All the Devils Are Here.

Trouble Is a Friend of Mine

Trouble series

Haunted by questions surrounding his sister's mysterious disappearance eight years ago, the brilliant and persistent Philip Digby ropes the new girl in town, Zoe Webster, into helping him find answers. Hijinks, friendship, and possible crushing ensue as Digby pulls Zoe into digging into suspicious happenings and flirting with danger. Listening to the audiobooks, all narrated by actress and award-winning narrator Kathleen McInerney, feels a lot like watching a season of Veronica Mars crossed with Sherlock. There are two more novels in this series, which is completed, at least for now: Trouble Makes a Comeback and Trouble Never Sleeps.

Truly Devious

Truly Devious series

If you love mysteries, you’ll love Johnson's nod to the genre with this trilogy. Stevie Bell can’t wait to start school at the elite Ellingham Academy and get away from her family. Most importantly, she can't wait to put her crime-solving skills to work on the mystery of who kidnapped the school founder’s wife and daughter back in the ‘30s. Playing with past and present riddles, and filled with winks to the mystery genre, this is a fun trilogy to get lost in. It's perfectly brought to life by narrator Kate Rudd, who you may know from her narration of John Green’s The Fault in Our Stars. The two other books completing this trilogy are The Vanishing Stair and The Hand on the Wall.

A is for Alibi

Kinsey Millhone Mysteries series

If you like your PIs wise and armed with a smart mouth, please let me introduce you to one of the savviest, sassiest, and most popular: Kinsey Millhone. Starting in the ‘80s in a fictional California town, we follow along in alphabetical order as the divorced ex-cop-turned-PI tackles all kinds of cases and no-gooders, from scammers to murderers. Prolific narrator Mary Peiffer and Broadway singer and actress Judy Kaye bring Millhone’s tough and sarcastic character to life. This completed series ended when author Sue Grafton passed away after writing volume Y; the family is respecting her wishes to not have anyone else write Z. The entire series is as follows: B is for Burglar, C is for Corpse, D is for Deadbeat, E is for Evidence, F is for Fugitive, G is for Gumshoe, H is for Homicide, I is for Innocent, J is for Judgement, K is for Killer, L is for Lawless, M is for Malice, N is for Noose, O is for Outlaw, P is for Peril, Q is for Quarry, R is for Ricochet, S is for Silence, T is for Trespass, U is for Undertow, V is for Vengeance, W is for Wasted, X, Y is for Yesterday.

Unquiet Dead

Rachel Getty and Esa Khattak series

Travel the world with Esa Khattak and Rachel Getty, Canadian detectives working for a department that handles minority-sensitive cases. Written with lyrical richness by British-born Canadian author Ausma Zehanat Khan, this series is filled with great mysteries, fantastic characters, and a ton of heart, and it travels the world, shining a light on important social issues. The reason you should definitely go with the audio edition? Award-winning actor Peter Ganim’s deep, lovely voice. In addition to its acclaimed 2015 debut, this series currently has four more novels: The Language of Secrets, Among the Ruins, A Dangerous Crossing, A Deadly Divide.

Land of Shadows

Detective Elouise Norton series

Widely praised best-selling author Rachel Howzell Hall delivers the perfect mystery series for fans of procedurals (especially TV detective shows) that focus first on the case but also give you enough private life scenes to really know the characters, especially the main crime-solver. Meet LA Homicide Detective Elouise “Lou” Norton. She has a cheating husband, a new partner at work, a sister who went missing in childhood, and case after case of criminals that need to be brought to justice. Smart and snarky, she's a character you’ll root for throughout the series, which so far has three entries beyond its debut volume: Skies of Ash, Trail of Echoes, and City of Saviors.

In the Woods

Dublin Murder Squad series

If you’ve yet to discover the fantastic, Edgar Award-winning Tana French and her Dublin Murder Squad, today is your lucky day. This procedural series can also be enjoyed as a collection of standalones, as each book focuses on a different detective in the squad. You get a deep dive into the department, the case at hand, and the featured detective's life, thoughts, and inner turmoil. It’s an especially satifying listen if you’re looking to sink deep into a mystery. Each audiobook has a distinct narrator, perfectly suited to bring a different detective to life. And the first two novels were adapted into a Starz series entitled Dublin Murders. The series currently has five entries beyond its debut: The Likeness, Faithful Place, Broken Harbor, The Secret Place, and The Trespasser.

The Dime

Detective Betty series

Betty Rhyzyk has left behind her Brooklyn police detective days and moved to Dallas with her doctor girlfriend. She’s hard as nails, but haunted by her past and keeps talking to her dead uncle's ghost for advice. And good advice is something she really needs when her case goes so sideways that it ends up nowhere near what she began investigating. A best-selling author of historical fiction who recently ventured into mysteries, Kathleen Kent delivers an awesome and intense ride you won’t be able to pause. So far, this series has an equally thrilling sequel: The Burn.

Bluebird, Bluebird

Highway 59 series

Locke is a gifted writer of both novels and screenplays. In this novel, she vividly brings to life East Texas and Darren Mathews, a Black Texas Ranger whose attempt to be a good samaritan gets him suspended. But that doesn’t stop him from needing to solve the murder of a white woman and Black man in a small town where tensions are super high. Award-winning narrator JD Jackson’s beautiful, deep voice captures the character of Darren Matthews and East Texas. This entry into the series is followed by the sequel: Heaven, My Home.

Devil in a Blue Dress

Easy Rawlins series

Welcome to best-selling author Walter Mosley’s signature detective series, which begins in the 1940s and progresses through the civil rights era. It follows Easy Rawlins: a Black WWII veteran who kicks off his PI career by taking a job to locate a white femme fatale. Rawlins is a no-nonsense investigator surrounded by great characters in a gritty series. The audiobooks are mostly narrated by well-known TV actor Michael Boatman, who perfectly voices the role. The definition of hard-boiled detective fiction, this series currently has 13 more installments: A Red Death, White Butterfly, Black Betty, A Little Yellow Dog, Gone Fishin’, Bad Boy Brawly Brown, Six Easy Pieces, Little Scarlet, Cinnamon Kiss, Blonde Faith, Little Green, Rose Gold, and Charcoal Joe.

The Last Place You Look

The Roxane Weary Mysteries series

If you like down-on-their-luck PIs who actually work to get their lives turned around, you’ll love rooting for Weary, the Ohio PI who manages to end up solving cases even when she’s reluctant to get involved. With a dead father who was a police officer, and two ill-advised relationships, her personal life isn’t great, so she keeps focused by solving cases. This one is perfect for fans of twisty mysteries with thriller endings and narrators who are perfect at nailing dry humor and exhausted-by-life characters. So far, there are three more entries, with one releasing a year: What You Want to See, The Stories You Tell, and Once You Go This Far.

The Unexpected Inheritance of Inspector Chopra

A Baby Ganesh Agency Investigation series

Vaseem Khan's delightful and entertaining series walks the line between cozy and crime with a quirky twist. Inspector Chopra retires from the police force, inherits a baby elephant, and becomes a PI solving important cases in India. Actors Sartaj Garewal and Madhav Sharma will transport you on a trip through India. The series currently has four more novels: The Perplexing Theft of the Jewel in the Crown, The Strange Disappearance of a Bollywood Star, Murder at the Grand Raj Palace, and Bad Day at the Vulture Club.

Broken Places

Chicago Mysteries series

After a traumatic work incident, police officer Cass Raines quits, manages an apartment building, and takes on cases as a PI. When her father figure, a priest, is murdered, she’ll stop at nothing to get answers. Raines is surrounded by complex and fascinating characters, including a breaks-the-mold nun, and Shari Peele narrates with a smooth voice that brings Raines's great heart and humor to life. It all adds up to a promising Chicago-set mystery series from native Chicagoan Tracy Clark. So far, this listen has a sequel: Borrowed Time.

A Study in Scarlet Women

Lady Sherlock series

In a delightful reimagining of Sherlock Holmes, author Sherry Thomas depicts Charlotte Holmes, a famed detective. Though she is recovering from a disgraceful incident, Holmes remains very practical and loves her desserts. If you’re a fan of mysteries, laughs, and women who charge forward regardless of society's rules, you’ll love Lady Sherlock. With the epic Wheel of Time series under her belt and multiple awards, narrator Kate Reading expertly brings Victorian society and Charlotte Holmes's antics to life. Currently there are four novels with the fifth releasing in fall of 2020: A Conspiracy in Belgravia, The Hollow of Fear, The Art of Theft, and Murder on Cold Street.

A Rising Man

Sam Wyndham series

Opening in 1919, this clever mystery series is perfect for fans of procedurals and historical mysteries. Former Scotland Yard detective Sam Wyndham is now in charge of a new post in the British-ruled Calcutta police force. Wyndham was hoping to leave his troubles behind, but his PTSD and opium addiction have followed. Now he’s hoping to stay afloat while solving crimes and trying to navigate politics and racism. There are three more novels thus far: A Necessary Evil, Smoke and Ashes, and Death in the East.

A Curious Beginning

Veronica Speedwell Mysteries series

If you want adventure, fun, laughs, mysteries, family drama, and a will-they-or-won’t-they romantic subplot, this is your series. Veronica Speedwell is an adventurous lepidopterist in 1880s London who ends up paired up with a reclusive and grumpy natural historian, Stoker. The two embark on adventures as they travel, solving mysteries and trying to stay alive. Narrator Angele Masters fantastically brings Speedwell’s wit and spirit to life. And if you’re hooked, you’re in luck—there are four more novels in the series, which has been growing annually: A Perilous Undertaking, A Treacherous Curse, A Dangerous Collaboration, and A Murderous Relation.

The Black Echo: Harry Bosch Series, Book 1

Harry Bosch series

LAPD homicide detective Harry Bosch isn’t here for corruption or crime. But this Vietnam vet is exactly the hero LA needs in this gritty, dark crime procedural series from internationally best-selling author Michael Connelly. Marathon the audiobooks and watch the exciting Amazon adaptation starring Titus Welliver, who also narrates a special Audible edition of The Black Echo. So far this is a 22 book series: The Black Ice, The Concrete Blonde, The Last Coyote, Trunk Music, Angels Flight, A Darkness More than Night, City of Bones, Lost Light, The Narrows, The Closers, Echo Park, The Overlook, Nine Dragons, The Drop, The Black Box, The Burning Room, The Crossing, The Wrong Side of Goodbye, Two Kinds of Truth, Dark Sacred Night, and The Night Fire.

Special Circumstances

Mike Daley/Rosie Fernandez Legal Thrillers series

This series is perfect for fans of cynical humor, legal thrillers, and unique characters. It isn’t every day we get to follow an ex-priest, past public defender, and now fired partner from a prominent law firm. So what’s he doing with his time? Trying to clear his former colleague from double murder charges, of course. With a deep, slightly gravelly voice, award-winning narrator Tim Campbell expertly navigates listeners through this high-energy courtroom drama. Currently there are 11 books in the series: Incriminating Evidence, Criminal Intent, Final Verdict, The Confession, Judgment Day, Perfect Alibi, Felony Murder Rule, Serve and Protect, Hot Shot, The Dreamer.

Still Life

Chief Inspector Gamache/Three Pines series

Welcome to Three Pines, a rural village south of Montreal, where Chief Inspector of the Surêté du Québec, Armand Gamache, and his team investigate all types of crimes—usually murder. Gamache is thoughtful and kind, and surrounded by eccentric town residents as he solves case after case. A five-time winner of the Agatha Award, author Louise Penny offers a wonderful series to sink into. It isn’t fully cozy but never goes into the grim and dark details of grittier series. Ralph Cosham brought a rich portrayal of Gamache and residents to life for most of the series until his passing, when award-winning English actor Robert Bathurst took over narration. Currently, the series has 16 entries: A Fatal Grace, The Cruelest Month, A Rule Against Murder, The Brutal Telling, Bury Your Dead, A Trick of the Light, The Beautiful Mystery, How the Light Gets In, The Long Way Home, The Nature of the Beast, A Great Reckoning, Glass Houses, Kingdom of the Blind, A Better Man, All the Devils Are Here.

Happy listening, mystery fans!

Jamie Canavés is a Book Riot contributing editor and Tailored Book Recommendations coordinator. She writes the Unusual Suspects mystery newsletter, never says no to chocolate or ‘80s nostalgia, and can hold a conversation using only gifs.

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