Top Ten Books Which Feature Characters Who ________
Another "choose your own topic" Top Ten list. I spent a whole month and then some really contemplating this one and came up with another lame little easy topic to use:
Top Ten Books Which Feature Characters Who Investigate... Stuff... Mainly Mysteries of Some Form... in Both Criminal and Non-Criminal Capacities
I had a list of ten different topics I could have used for this week's Top Ten Tuesdays, but in the end, I randomly glanced at my list and just said, "Yeah, let's do this one." This is not to say I didn't put any effort into writing my list and it's not that I don't like this topic either--after all, it was one of many I'd written down as a possibility.
In this instance, I like a good mystery and I like following a good investigation, whether criminal or not, so I have a ton of books to choose from for characters who simply investigate stuff.
And I can categorize them too, if need be... but I won't. At least not in a way that makes sense to anyone other than myself.
The Silkworm by Robert Galbraith
Special Mention: The Cuckoo's Calling
Investigators: Cormoran Strike and Robin Ellacot -- Private Investigators (PI)
Cormoran, a war veteran, runs his own private investigating firm, but also has a great head for criminal investigations. His receptionist slash assistant Robin is making her way up to becoming his investigating partner as she hones her natural skills in this particular field.
Robert Galbraith, a.k.a. J.K. Rowling, is an excellent author and The Silkworm is a genius book that not only presents a mystery, but also some inspiring human drama and thought-provoking ideals.
Out of the Shadows by Kay Hooper
Investigators: Noah Bishop, Miranda Knight, et al -- Law Enforcement
Noah Bishop is an FBI agent who heads the Special Crimes Unit, a team of agents who specialize in "less orthodox methods of criminal investigating"--which is basically the publicly acceptable term for psychic investigators.
This is Book 3 in a long running series that is at Book #15 now, each book focusing on another set of psychic investigators with a handful of law enforcement who don't have psychic abilities as well. But since Out of the Shadows is the strongest of the books I have read (so far) in this series, I figured it could represent all of them--it also helps that this is Noah Bishop's specific book and he's the head of the Special Crimes Unit.
The books are enjoyable and well-written, sometimes with left-field conclusions, but great build up and a good balance of mystery and romance. And there are a lovely group of likable characters both part of the SCU or just local law enforcement, or not even law enforcement at all who all investigate the cases in their own ways.
To the Limit
Over the Line
by Cindy Gerard
Investigators: Eve Garrett and Tyler "Mac" MacClain in To the Limit; Dallas, Noah, and Ethan Garrett in Over the Line. While these are technically bodyguard-themed books, they both have a sense of criminal mystery as the background (which is why they're my favorite of the six Bodyguard books). Mac is technically the only traditional investigative profession presented as a private investigator and ex-police detective. The Garrett siblings do investigative work based on their current client necessities as well as based on personal interest.
Eve Garrett used to be Secret Services which makes her a tough cookie, and whether teamed up with Mac or by herself, she shows great potential for investigative work as she tries to hunt down the truth about what happened to her dear friend, a young girl she used to be security detail for before she got kicked out of Secret Services because some rich guy believed she'd screwed up when she still did her job properly. In Over the Line the Garrett brothers team up to investigate the unfolding mysteries which had started off as protection detail of a rock star, that slowly became a murder mystery.
Deadly Dreams by Kylie Brant
Investigators: Marisa Chandler and Nate McGuire -- Mindhunter criminologist and Law enforcement. Marisa, or Risa for short, used to be a police detective with the Philadelphia PD until the former FBI agent, Adam Raiker recruited her as an expert criminologist. Nate McGuire is currently part of Philadelphia PD, and teamed up together, the two make an excellent investigative unit.
The entirety of the Mindhunters series is dark, gritty, and intense with a great balance of romance and suspense. Deadly Dreams is my favorite of the entire series with Waking the Dead as a close second and Waking Nightmare having sentimental value as the very first book in the series.
The criminologists of Adam Raiker's Mindhunter organization are all well-versed in every form of criminal investigation, with a strong emphasis on crime scene processing and profiling. Each of the women in these stories also have their strengths and weaknesses.
The rest of the series investigators:
- Waking Nightmare -- Abbie Phillips, Mindhunter; Rine Robel, Police Detective
- Waking Evil -- Ramsey Clark, Mindhunter; Devlin Stryker, parapsychologist (yes, he does investigative work on the paranormal)
- Waking the Dead -- Caitlin Fleming, Mindhunter with a specialization in Forensic Pathology
- Deadly Intent -- Macy Reid, Mindhunter with a specialization in handwriting analysis; Kellan Burke, Mindhunter
- Deadly Sins -- Adam Raiker, Mindhunter (yes, the Grand Poobah of Mindhunters); Jaid Marlowe, FBI agent
Something About You by Julie James
Investigators: Jack Pallas and Sam Wilkins, FBI agents.
By all rights, this is technically a poor choice for this category, but it's a great book with fun narration and witty dialogue and banter, excellently created characters. The investigation part of the book is minimal because the killer is revealed at the beginning anyway, but I'm biased (because I love this series) and Jack and Sam are FBI agents and DO present some short scenes of FBI investigating work...
But like the rest of the series, this is more of Contemporary Romance based on FBI/US Attorney workplace stories more than anything. And no, Cameron doesn't do any investigating as a prosecutor, so she doesn't get to be called an investigator, not really, but I love her all the same.
Grave Mercy by Robin LaFevers
Investigators: Ismae Rienne, NUN ASSASSIN!! And Gavriel Duval, some guy at court working for his sister who happens to be the Duchess of Brittany.
I guess this book doesn't have any type of typical criminal investigations or whatnot, but there is some investigating going on as Ismae and Gavriel work together to uncover the secrets and plots of treason, as well as who is behind all the wrongs committed against the Duchess Anne. And believe me, even if the tone isn't suspenseful or exciting, the story was clever and gripping and thought-provoking all the same.
Pivot Point by Kasie West
The Raven Boys by Maggie Stiefvater
The Archived by Victoria Schwab
With these last three books, we know that I truly am being biased. Here's the honest truth, these three books are my favorite recent reads and even though they aren't typical investigation books with typical investigative story lines, there are some forms of some kinds of "investigating" going on.
In Pivot Point, Addie uses her ability to see into two possible futures dependent on a big choice she must make. Amidst all of this, there are some strange things going on in both futures and some investigating going on by herself, her friends, and her parents about some random mystery that is actually lurking in the background compared to the main story line.
In The Raven Boys, Gansey and his crew are kind of seeking the whereabouts of a Welsh King so that he may grant a favor to the person who wakes him. In a way, they're "investigating" the secrets of the Welsh King, the ley lines, and other paranormal stuff going on.
In The Archived, Mac's actual job is sending Histories back into the archives of the dead--backstory: when people die, their entire life is recorded in body-shaped records called Histories and shelved accordingly in the Archives, guarded by Librarians; but every so often a History will wake up and try to find his or her way out into the real world, but are trapped in a hallway in-between instead. In The Archived, there is something mysterious and sinister afoot among the Archives and Mac finds that she needs to figure out what it is.
-- Honorable Mentions --
- The Nightmare Affair by Mindee Arnett: Dusty and Eli help investigate the murder of a fellow studen via psychic dreams that Eli has that only Dusty can enter and investigate.
- Omens by Kelley Armstrong: Olivia learns that her real parents are infamous cultist serial killers and so she leaves her comfortable adoptive home and investigates both her past and a possible truth behind the serial killings.
- The Restorer by Amanda Stevens: Amelia Grey is a graveyard restorer who can see ghosts and is tasked to voluntarily assist Detective John Devlin in a brutal murder that may be linked to headstone symbolism--something she is an expert at.
- Cold Sight by Leslie Parrish: Former psychic detective Aiden McConnell is asked (or rather begged) to come out of his hermit's shell by investigative news reporter Lexie Nolan to uncover what she believes is a string of serial kidnappings/serial killings of teenagers; because no one else in the town will believe her, she needs Aiden to help her find proof with his psychic abilities to save these teenage girls.
- The Dollhouse Murders by Betty Ren Wright: Amy studies the ghostly happenings of a by-scale, intricately detailed, exact replica dollhouse of her Aunt Clare's home to find out what really happened in the murders of her paternal grandparents over twenty years ago. She even runs off to the library to do her own research using old newspapers on microfilm (that stuff makes me seasick!).
-- Honorable Mention Runner-Ups --
- She's Got the Look by Leslie Kelly: The day before Melody Tanner's wedding, her friends convince her to make a "Sex List" of five men she is allowed to sleep with even after she's married. Fast forward into the present, Melody has finalized her divorce from a cheating husband and her best friend wants her to follow through with said "Sex List" in order to rebound from her ugly marriage/divorce. But the men on her list have all coincidentally started dying off, with one of them being an obvious murder; and so now Nick Walker, police detective (who is also on Melody's list), must look into a possible connection as he investigates his murder case.
- Heartbreaker by Julie Garwood: A serial killer challenges the FBI by openly threatening Nick Buchanan's best friend, Father Thomas Madden, telling the priest that he has his sights set on his sister Laurant. Now Nick must hunt down this serial killer as well as keep her protected.
- Investigating the Hottie by Juli Alexander: Amanda finds out that her aunt is part of a spy agency working for the government and that she has been recruited as part of the teen spy program. Her first assignment is to investigate hottie teen Will Middleton who may or may not be a threatening hacker, who may or may not have something big planned for the cyber world that could affect millions of people.
And there we have a ton of books with one aspect of investigating a mystery of some form or another. Case in point, I love mysteries and I love reading about the investigative process by which out beloved characters go about searching for the truth.