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Mysteries Without Murder

Updated: March 26, 2021

Not all mysteries are strewn with corpses. Here is a list of entertaining tomes by some of the genre's most illustrious authors, and nary a stiff in the bunch! However, it is a bit of a challenge finding mysteries without a killing in them.

The art forger
Shapiro, Barbara A., 1951-
Call Number: M

Talented artist Claire Roth is broke and disgraced after a scandal in which another artist’s breakthrough painting was actually painted by her, and he killed himself when the deception was discovered. When a gallery owner asks her to forge a Degas masterpiece that was stolen years before from the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum, she reluctantly agrees, but she begins to question whether the painting she’s copying is itself a forgery. If that’s the case, where is the real Degas?

Aunt Dimity's death
Atherton, Nancy.
Call Number: M
First book in a paranormal cozy series set in the English Cotswolds featuring amateur sleuth Lori Shepard who, with an assist from her ghostly Aunt Dimity, rights many a village wrong.

Burning down the house : a Nick Hoffman novel
Raphael, Lev.
Call Number: M
Untenured professor and amateur detective Nick Hoffman agrees to help a colleague who is receiving threatening phone calls.

The candy cane caper
Kilpack, Josi S
Call Number: M

Sadie Hoffmiller is a talented baker with a knack for solving mysteries. As she looks forward to welcoming her whole family for Christmas in Fort Collins, Colorado, Sadie also finds time to visit her 94-year-old friend Mary, who is now in assisted living and in poor health. Sadie helps decorate a tree with Mary’s antique and valuable Christmas ornaments that she plans to leave to her great-granddaughter to help fund her college education. When some of the ornaments disappear, Sadie goes into sleuth mode to make Mary’s last Christmas a happy one.

The case of the missing books
Sansom, Ian.
Call Number: M
Israel Armstrong is the new librarian in tiny Tumdrum, Ireland. The problem is, all of the library's books are missing, and it's up to newcomer Armstrong to blunder through the investigation himself while getting to know the eccentric locals.

The Darling Dahlias and the Confederate rose
Albert, Susan Wittig.
Call Number: M

This is one of a series of cozy mysteries set in 1930s Darling, Alabama, where the Dahlias are the members of a garden club. In this installment, the group contends with a couple of puzzles, neither of which involves murder: One of their members, Verna Tidwell, has been locked out of her bank job and accused of embezzling town funds. Meanwhile, town librarian Dorothy Rogers is trying to figure out the meaning of a strange code she discovered stitched inside a family heirloom pillow.

The daughter of time
Tey, Josephine, 1896 or 7-1952.
Call Number: M Ed.b
While in the hospital recovering from a fall, a bored Inspector Alan Grant turns his mental energies to the legend of Richard III, the so-called "hunchback king" widely assumed to have murdered his young nephews in order to gain the throne. Studying a portrait of Richard, Grant becomes convinced that he was not guilty and sets out to discover who really killed the princes.

Dog on it : a Chet and Bernie mystery
Quinn, Spencer.
Call Number: M

First in a series about financially strapped private eye Bernie Little and his devoted dog Chet, a mongrel with one white ear and one black ear. Chet is the story’s narrator, and he has the typical strengths and weaknesses of most dogs: While his sense of smell is a huge help to Bernie, he’s always forgetting that he’s not supposed to bark. Bernie and Chet are hired by a wealthy divorcee to look for her 15-year-old daughter, Madison, who may or may not have been kidnapped by enemies of her father, a real estate developer with mob connections.

An excellent mystery : the eleventh chronicle of Brother Cadfael
Peters, Ellis, 1913-1995.
Call Number: M

In this installment of the Brother Cadfael series, set in twelfth-century England, Cadfael becomes involved in a puzzling case he learns about from fellow monk Brother Humilus, a former hero of the Crusades now dying of old wounds. When Humilus took religious orders three years earlier, he released his promised bride, Julian Cruce, from their engagement. Now his former lieutenant would like to marry Julian, but she is nowhere to be found: her family believes she entered a convent, but the nuns know nothing about her.

The family vault
MacLeod, Charlotte.
Call Number: M
When Great-Uncle Frederick dies, the Kelling clan opens the family vault to accommodate his remains. Imagine their surprise when they discover that the vault contains the skeleton of a burlesque queen who disappeared thirty years before!

The franchise affair
Tey, Josephine, 1896 or 7-1952.
Call Number: M Ed.a
A 15-year-old girl accuses two lonely and eccentric women of abducting her and forcing her to work for them as a slave. With the small English village where they live up in arms over the charges local solicitor Robert Blair decides to take on the case of defending the two women. Tey does a great job of keeping the tension high throughout the story.

Gaudy night
Sayers, Dorothy L. 1893-1957.
Call Number: M Ed.d
Lord Peter Wimsey's girlfriend Harriet Vane is all set to attend her Oxford reunion (known as "the Gaudy"). But a series of sinister pranks dampens the fun, and she and Wimsey must work out the mystery before something ghastly occurs.

Get real
Westlake, Donald E.
Call Number: M

The final book in the author’s amusing series about professional thief John Dortmunder and his gang. When a reality TV show producer hears about the gang’s exploits, he suggests that they carry out one of their heists as an episode of his show, Get Real--assuring them that their faces will be obscured, so no one will be able to identify them. While the show’s staff is coming up with a heist for them, complete with a script of supposedly ad-libbed dialogue, Dortmunder and friends cook up their own caper--stealing some of Get Real’s own hidden assets.

A Highland Christmas
Beaton, M. C.
Call Number: M
Lochdubh, Scotland's own Constable Macbeth has his hands full trying to locate the village's missing Christmas decorations and the local spinster's cat, while helping the new family in town discover the true meaning of Christmas.

"L" is for lawless
Grafton, Sue.
Call Number: M
P.I. Kinsey Millhone agrees to help the family of a recently deceased WWII vet discover why the military has no record of his service. A colorful cast of characters and a far-flung string of clues eventually lead to the solution of a decades-old mystery.

The man who was Thursday : a nightmare
Chesterton, G. K. 1874-1936.
Call Number: M Ed.b
Surrealistic thriller depicting one man's race against time to save the world from a group of anarchists who name themselves after the days of the week.

Mariner's compass
Fowler, Earlene.
Call Number: M
In order to inherit a house from a man she never met, folk art museum curator and amateur sleuth Benni Harper must spend two weeks in the house alone, trying to unravel her benefactor's secrets.

The mystery of the yellow room.
Leroux, Gaston, 1868-1927.
Call Number: M
Classic mystery concerning a seemingly impossible crime in which the criminal appears to have vanished from a locked room. The emphasis of the story is on the intellectual challenge to the reader. Detailed floor plan and diagrams of the room are included.

The No. 1 Ladies' Detective Agency
McCall Smith, Alexander, 1948-
Call Number: M Ed.a
The first book in the popular series establishes Precious Ramotswe as the first female detective in her native Botswana. Precious must locate a missing husband, uncover a con man and find a missing boy who may have been snatched by witch doctors.

A river in the sky
Peters, Elizabeth, 1927-2013.
Call Number: M

This is one of the final books in the author’s long-running series about Amelia Peabody, an archeologist in the Victorian and Edwardian era. In this case, it’s 1910, and Amelia and her husband Emerson head to Palestine where a treasure hunter has secured permission to excavate near the Temple Mount. Amelia and Emerson worry that he’ll cause trouble among the three religious groups who hold the site sacred, but they also  have information suggesting that he may be a German spy.

Suffer the little children
Leon, Donna.
Call Number: M
This installment of Leon's Inspector Brunetti series finds him involved in a kidnapping. Enjoy this series for its depiction of life in Venice.

The tale of Applebeck Orchard : the cottage tales of Beatrix Potter
Albert, Susan Wittig.
Call Number: M

Real-life children’s author Beatrix Potter appears as the sleuth in this episode of a series set in rural England in the early 1900s. The mystery involves a local farmer who has barricaded the communal pathway through his orchard after a haystack fire. Beatrix and her friends try to figure out who set the fire, while a group of her animal friends conduct their own investigation

The tales of Edgar Allan Poe
Poe, Edgar Allan, 1809-1849.
Call Number: Ed.j
In the classic early detective story, "The Purloined Letter," amateur sleuth Monsieur Dupin must employ his powers of logical deduction and psychological reasoning to uncover the whereabouts of a missing letter.