Best Whodunnits

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Whodunnits are the ideal way to relax and an excellent alternative to watching tv. You can take them with you, and every time you’re waiting, say, for the doctor (when you would otherwise be staring into space or looking at your phone) you can get back to it. One of my sisters is a high court judge, the other is a professor of economics, we ALL use thrillers as a form of relaxation. I mean, someday I might study Buddhism or meditation or something, but for now, this is all I need.

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    Cast, in Order of Disappearance
    by Simon Brett

    The key thing about a good whodunnit for me is that it has to make you laugh at the ridiculousness of life. This book by Simon Brett is the first in the Charles Paris series. Charles Paris is a down-and-out actor who lives in a bedsit, has to use the payphone outside to make phone calls, and drinks whisky. Simon Brett always makes me laugh, but probably this is his funniest series. Also, it's set (and written?) in the 1970s and it's quite fun to be taken back in time to 1970s Britian.

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    Agatha Raisin and the Quiche of Death (Agatha Raisin Mysteries, No. 1)
    by M.C. Beaton

    Another ludicrous figure in whodunnits is Agatha Raisin. I presume MC Beaton just put together Agatha Christie and a dried fruit to came up with the lead character's name. I normally can't stop giggling when reading these books, of which the "Quiche of Death" is the first. The series is set in the Cotswolds, which is rather lovely as a backdrop for all of Agatha's escapades. Also, there's something about her way of life, always shoving frozen curries in the microwave for dinner and taking shortcuts that I find quite appealing.

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    The Murder at the Vicarage (Miss Marple Mysteries)
    by Agatha Christie

    Agatha Christie is the queen of crime, the bestselling novelist ever, and I'm in the pro-Agatha camp. I find her plots so clever, the writing so light and yes, there is a good sense of humour in there too, in the little observations. I just re-read this as an audiobook, as I like to listen to whodunnits when I'm running. Basically, the desire to know what happens next gets me running every day (in theory). It worked. I did go running every day because I wanted to know what happened next and enjoyed being with the characters.

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    Brat Farrar
    by Josephine Tey

    Josephine Tey, if you haven't heard of her, is a writer to discover. And this, I would say, is her best book. It might be worth reading her others first, so you build up to this one. This is what I would call a 'quality' whodunnit. I can't stand mystery writers with literary pretensions so there's only a fine space to operate in, but Josephine Tey is in that space.

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    The Woman in White (Penguin Classics)
    by Wilkie Collins

    This book by Wilkie Collins is one of the best books ever. And that's all there is to it. It's an old book, Wilkie Collins was a friend of Charles Dickens's, so I think it was written at the end of the 19th century, but don't let that put you off. In fact, that's part of its attraction, delving into Victorian Britain and living there for the days or weeks it takes you to read this book. But you won't have trouble finishing it, because it's an absolute pageturner.

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