Mystery Authors That Aren't James Patterson
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Mystery Authors That Aren’t James Patterson

James Patterson has dominated the mystery genre for years – it’s time for someone else to get the spotlight already.
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I’m a sucker for a good mystery, but whenever I’m given recommendations, it’s always the same authors. And at the top of the list? James Patterson. To be fair, he does have some good books, but I haven’t been a fan of his in a while. After his latest PR debacle, I’ve decided it would be interesting to see some other authors get the spotlight for once. So, I went out searching for some mystery authors who deserve a little more hype. Did your favorite make the list?

Kathy Reichs

Kathy Reichs books
Pocket Books | Penguin Razorbill | Simon & Schuster

I’m pretty sure everyone is tired of me talking about Kathy Reichs, but there’s yet to be a book from her that I don’t absolutely love. From her YA to adult novels, I can’t get enough. And I’m currently saving up to buy every last book in the Bones series (there’s about a 22nd book this summer).

I’ve talked about Virals quite a bit before, so let’s focus on Bones. Yes, if you watched the show, you know exactly what I’m talking about. The show was loosely based on the books, and a few Easter eggs were thrown in a few episodes. It’s one of my favorites that I rewatch more than most shows.

Greg Iles

Greg Iles books
Berkley | William Morrow & Company

Out of all of Greg Iles’s works, his mystery books are by far my favorite. If I had to choose a favorite, I’d have to cheat a bit and say his entire Penn Cage series. But I also like his other genre work, so if you’re looking to branch from mystery and thriller, give him a shot.

I could talk more about how much he’s written, but I’d rather talk about his Penn Cage series. There are currently six books and a novella in the series, with a seventh novel on the way. Though each book follows a different character, Penn Cage pops up in every single one. And the plots will always keep you on your toes.

Patricia Cornwell

Patricia Cornwell and Post-Mortem and Portrait of a Killer
@1pcornwell on Instagram | Berkley | Pocket Books

I don’t think I’ve loved an adult mystery protagonist quite as much as I love Kay Scarpetta – okay, I take that back, she’s second only to Kathy Reich’s Temperance Brennan, but my point still stands. Patricia Cornwell knows how to write fictional mysteries that feel like they’re happening right outside your door.

In addition to her fiction works, she’s deep-dived into Jack the Ripper research. Her non-fiction book, Portrait of a Killer: Jack the Ripper – Case Closed, goes into the theory that Walter Sickert is the serial killer. And yes, I have read that all the way through (twice). It’s just as good as her fiction novels.

Louise Penny

Louise Penny books
Minotaur Books | Headline | St. Martin’s Paperbacks

I only heard about Louise Penny because her book, Three Pines, went into production last year. Because of that, I was intrigued by the stories she’s been writing for years. Sadly, for those that love book-to-film adaptations, we might have to live on the only two she’s agreed to so far.

Penny is a little less talked about than most mystery authors with as many books as her, but for her fans, she’s well-known for her character Chief Inspector Armand Gamache. He is the protagonist of most of her novels, and you can see his first case novelized in Still Life.

Ridley Pearson

Ridley Pearson and Killer Weekend
@ridleypearson on Instagram | @wmslibrary66 on Instagram | Putnam Publishing Group | St. Martin’s Press

Though I honestly prefer Ridley Pearson’s Kingdom Keeper series over his adult works, I will concede he knows how to weave a mystery well. And in case you didn’t know (because I didn’t until last year), Pearson sometimes writes under the pen name Wendell McCall.

As McCall, he has three books in the Chris Klick series. As Pearson, he’s written more books than I care to count. I’ve read all his standalone novels so far, but I do have my eyes on starting up one of his series. The problem is I can’t decide between the Risk Agent or Walt Fleming series.

See related: Cozy Mysteries Perfect for a Cold Day In

Mary Higgins Clark

Mary Higgins Clark books
Pocket Books | Pocket Books UK

This iconic writer will forever live on my shelves. Mary Higgins Clark first debuted in 1968 with Aspire to the Heavens. She continued writing up until her death in 2020. Some of my favorites are Where Are You Now?, I Heard That Song Before, and all of her Under Suspicion books.

The Under Suspicion series follows Laurie Moran as they produce a documentary series on unsolved crimes. Her other series, Alvirah and Willy, follows wife and husband Alvirah and Willy as they go about solving crimes they come across.

Lucy Foley

Lucy Foley and The Guest List
@lucyfoleyauthor on Instagram | William Morrow & Company

Lucy Foley has written in a handful of genres, but her mystery novels are what she’s best known for. TikTok has already raved about The Paris Apartment and The Guest List, so I’ll talk about some of her other works that I’ve enjoyed.

Before I joined TikTok, I had already come across Foley’s works in college. My favorite from those would have to be The Invitation. It just weaved mystery and romance into a historical fiction story set in Rome perfectly that I could hardly put down for class.

Silvia Moreno-Garcia

Silvia Moreno-Garcia and Mexican Gothic and Velvet Was the Night on Instagram | Del Rey

Though Silvia Moreno-Garcia is better known for her fantasy works, she does have a few mystery books that I loved more than I anticipated. Moreno-Garcia has a writing style that just makes you want to keep reading, even after you finish the book or story.

Out of her works, I love Mexican Gothic and Velvet Was the Night the best. Mexican Gothic is a horror mystery that will have you double-guessing what you think you know. On the other hand, Velvet Was the Night will transport you back to the 1970s.

Ivy Pochoda

Ivy Pochoda books
Dennis Lehane Books | Ecco

If you’re looking for a thriller, I would suggest picking up one of Ivy Pochoda’s books before any of James Patterson’s. But that’s only because her characters are more likable – and the plots are more interesting – than anything Patterson has come up with in a while.

Out of her five books out so far, her mystery novels are Visitation Street, These Women, and Wonder Valley. And if you’re ever looking to branch out, The Art of Disappearing is unlike anything else I’ve read recently.

Wanda M. Morris

Wanda M. Morris and All Her Little Secrets and Any Where You Run
@wandamowrites on Instagram | William Morrow & Company

Though Wanda M. Morris only has two books out, I’m already a fan. All Her Little Secrets, Morris’s debut, follows Ellice, a lawyer who dives headfirst into the investigation of her boss’s death.

My favorite from Morris is her second book, Anywhere You Run. Two sisters run away after killing a man in self-defense – Violet runs with her lover to Birmingham, Alabama, while Marigold runs to Ohio with her new husband. But the hunt for the killers is right on their heels.

See related: The Best Retellings of Sherlock Holmes

Sheena Kamal

Sheena Kamal and The Lost Ones and Fight Like a Girl
@sheenakamalwrites on Instagram | @sweetmoonphoto on Instagram | William Morrow & Company | Penguin Teen

Sheena Kamal is best known for her Nora Watts mystery-thriller series, but she also has a young adult novel out, too. If you’re looking for a fun YA read with mystery and grief, Kamal’s Fight Like a Girl is perfect for you.

As for the Nora Watts books, you’ll fall in love with Watts immediately. There hasn’t been a book released in the series since 2020, but I’m holding out hope for another. There are three books (The Lost Ones, It All Falls Down, and No Going Back) and a novella (In the Grip of It).

Megan Giddings

Lakewood by Megan Giddings cover

While most of Megan Giddings’s works aren’t mysteries, I had to mention her because of Lakewood. It’s not just a mystery; it’s a dystopian horror story that will keep you on your toes. It’s perfect if you’re a fan of The Handmaid’s Tale, as it deals with similar plot points.

Lakewood follows Lena Johnson as she forgoes the life she had planned to help her family after her grandmother dies. But the job she takes strictly for the money ends up being more than she signed up for. The ethical trials in medical trials will be crossed without any choice.

Rachel Howzell Hall

Rachel Howzel Hall books
Forge Books

Though Rachel Howzell Hall has already made a name for herself, she did collaborate with James Patterson on two books:The Good Sister and The Family Lawyer. But to be completely honest, those aren’t the best in her bibliography.

She has fourteen books out now, with another on the way in 2023. And while I love her Detective Elouise Norton series, I have a soft spot for her standalones. If you want a read that will keep you on the edge of your seat, I’d go with And Now She’s Gone or They All Fall Down.

Tiffany D. Jackson

Tiffany D. Jackson and Allegedly and White Smoke
@writeinbk on Instagram | Katherine Tegen Books

Before Tiffany D. Jackson became the New York Times best-selling author we know today, she got her start writing for a web series and short film. Since then, Jackson has published seven novels, one picture book, and a short story featured in an anthology.

All of Jackson’s books feature mysteries, whether they be contemporary or based in fantasy. My favorite of hers is White Smoke. However, I can’t stop thinking of the mystery surrounding the plot of Allegedly. For her anthology work, she co-edited Blackout and has a story in His Hideous Heart.

Attica Locke

Attica Locke and Black Water Rising
@atticalocke on Instagram | Amistad

Attica only has five books out so far, but I haven’t heard much talk about them. Out of her five books, my favorite would have to be her first, Black Water Rising. In addition to her bibliography, she’s won six awards, three of which for the same book.

According to Goodreads, Locke has two more books in the works, with the first being expected in 2024. And if you manage to get through all of her books, she’s also a screenwriter – she’s credited on Little Fires Everywhere, Empire, and When They See Us.