Share 12 Super Sleuthy Books for Grown-Up Fans of Nancy Drew

12 Super Sleuthy Books for Grown-Up Fans of Nancy Drew

Sarah Jane Abbott is an assistant editor for Paula Wiseman Books and Beach Lane Books, imprints of Simon & Schuster Children’s Publishing.  She grew up having NANCY DREW books read to her by her father, and is now an avid reader of mystery, thriller, and horror, along with everything from literary fiction to poetry to personal essays.  She graduated from Bucknell University with a degree in English and a concentration in creative writing.  Sarah Jane is an advocate of quasi-destructive book love—her best-loved volumes are highlighted, scribbled in, dog-eared, and wavy from being dropped in the bath tub.  

When I was young, there was nothing more thrilling than pulling a brand-new, yellow-spined Nancy Drew mystery off my shelf. What new adventures would the girl detective encounter with her blue roadster gassed up and her faithful friends Bess and George at her side? I couldn’t wait to dive into her world again, and with every chapter-ending cliffhanger, I’d breathlessly ask to have just one more chapter read to me. If as an adult you are awash with nostalgia for the Nancy Drew series, here are some grown-up female sleuths with continuing series to devour.


The Sweetness at the Bottom of the Pie
by Alan Bradley
If Nancy had a bright, fearless young protégée, she would be 11-year-old sleuth Flavia de Luce. In her first mystery, aspiring chemist Flavia is both appalled and delighted when she discovers a dead man in a cucumber patch. Much to the police’s chagrin, she sets out to crack the case herself.
The Sweetness at the Bottom of the Pie
Alan Bradley

12 Super Sleuthy Books for Grown-Up Fans of Nancy Drew

When I was young, there was nothing more thrilling than pulling a brand-new, yellow-spined Nancy Drew mystery off my shelf. If as an adult you are awash with nostalgia for the Nancy Drew series, here are some grown-up female sleuths with continuing series to devour.

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Maisie Dobbs
by Jacqueline Winspear
Maisie Dobbs is a former maid whose prodigious intellect led her aristocratic suffragette employer to help her earn admission to the prestigious Girton College in Cambridge. In the wake of World War I, Maisie sets up shop as a private sleuth. Her first mystery, seemingly a simple case of infidelity, will force her to confront the ghost that has haunted her for more than a decade.
Maisie Dobbs
Jacqueline Winspear

After World War I, plucky former nurse Maisie sets up shop as a private investigator. Still coping with the effects of the war, she takes on a seemingly ordinary infidelity case that will plunge her into a web of secrets, forcing her to revisit her days on the front and the love she left behind.

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Baltimore Blues
by Laura Lippman

A former Baltimore Star reporter, Tess Monaghan knows every inch of her city. Smart, funny, and now unemployed, Tess accepts a job doing some unorthodox snooping into the murder of a notorious local attorney on behalf of a friend, who is the prime suspect. But there are lethal secrets hiding in the Charm City shadows.

Baltimore Blues
Laura Lippman

A former Baltimore Star reporter, Tess Monaghan knows every inch of her city. Smart, funny, and now unemployed, Tess accepts a job doing some unorthodox snooping into the murder of a notorious local attorney on behalf of a friend, who is the prime suspect. But there are lethal secrets hiding in the Charm City shadows.

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The Murder at the Vicarage
by Agatha Christie

When the wildly unpopular Colonel Protheroe is shot to death, the residents of his English village are not exactly devastated—even the vicar declares that his killing did the world a favor. In a town overflowing with suspects, the gentle but sharp Miss Jane Marple steps up to crack the case. In Nancy’s retirement years, I imagine she is something like this beloved sleuth.

The Murder at the Vicarage
Agatha Christie

When the wildly unpopular Colonel Protheroe is shot to death, the residents of his English village are not exactly devastated—even the vicar declares that his killing did the world a favor. In a town overflowing with suspects, the gentle but sharp Miss Jane Marple steps up to crack the case. In Nancy’s retirement years, I imagine she is something like this beloved sleuth.

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Blind Goddess
by Anne Holt

Hanne Wilhelmsen is a brilliant but conflicted Norwegian police officer who is called in to investigate when a small time drug dealer is found battered to death on the outskirts of Oslo. When a shady lawyer is shot a few days later, Hanne and her partner, Håkon, suspect that the cases may be connected.

Blind Goddess
Anne Holt

Hanne Wilhelmsen is a brilliant but conflicted Norwegian police officer who is called in to investigate when a small time drug dealer is found battered to death on the outskirts of Oslo. When a shady lawyer is shot a few days later, Hanne and her partner, Håkon, suspect that the cases may be connected.

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Cocaine Blues
by Kerry Greenwood

If Nancy grew up in the Jazz Age, she would be Phryne Fisher. The socialite flapper is bored of English high society and decides to try her hand at being a lady detective in Melbourne, Australia. The clever and spunky sleuth’s first case involves poisoned wives, cocaine smuggling rings, corrupt cops, and communism.

Cocaine Blues
Kerry Greenwood

If Nancy grew up in the Jazz Age, she would be Phryne Fisher. The socialite flapper is bored of English high society and decides to try her hand at being a lady detective in Melbourne, Australia. The clever and spunky sleuth’s first case involves poisoned wives, cocaine smuggling rings, corrupt cops, and communism.

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The No. 1 Ladies' Detective Agency
by Alexander McCall Smith
The delightfully cunning Precious Ramotswe is the proprietor of Botswana’s premier women’s detective agency. In this charming series, Precious—with help from her loyal associate, Grace Makutsi—navigates her cases and her personal life with wisdom, good humor, and the occasional cup of tea.
The No. 1 Ladies' Detective Agency
Alexander McCall Smith

Fans around the world adore the bestselling No. 1 Ladies’ Detective Agency series, the basis of the HBO TV show, and its proprietor Precious Ramotswe, Botswana’s premier lady detective. In this charming series, Mma Ramotswe navigates her cases and her personal life with wisdom, and good humor—not to mention help from her loyal assistant, Grace Makutsi, and the occasional cup of tea.

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The Eye of Jade
by Diane Wei Liang

Mei Wang is a modern, independent woman whose intuition and curiosity make her Beijing's first successful female private investigator. When Mei is hired to find a Han dynasty jade of great value, the search leads her through banquet halls and back alleys, seedy gambling dens, and cheap noodle bars near the Forbidden City.

The Eye of Jade
Diane Wei Liang

Mei Wang is a modern, independent woman whose intuition and curiosity make her Beijing's first successful female private investigator. When Mei is hired to find a Han dynasty jade of great value, the search leads her through banquet halls and back alleys, seedy gambling dens, and cheap noodle bars near the Forbidden City.

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The Spellman Files
by Lisa Lutz
Described as part Nancy Drew, part Dirty Harry, Izzy Spellman is a talented sleuth with a checkered past working for her dysfunctional family of private investigators. Finally, Izzy decides that she needs to get out of the family business, but not before taking one last investigation—a fifteen-year-old, ice-cold missing person case.
The Spellman Files
Lisa Lutz

“There’s something delightfully endearing about Lisa Lutz’s kinetic and quirky THE SPELLMAN FILES. It reads like a well-scripted television sitcom/family drama and, considering Lutz’s screenwriting background, that vibe makes perfect sense. As soon as I’d finished reading this offbeat novel, I wanted to binge-read the rest of the books in the series.”

Read the full review by Allison Tyler here.

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Déjà Dead
by Kathy Reichs

Dr. Temperance Brennan is a forensic anthropologist who works in Montreal's Laboratoire de Medecine Legale examining bodies to assist the police in solving murders. When a female corpse is discovered meticulously dismembered and stashed in trash bags, Temperance detects an alarming pattern that plunges her into a harrowing search for a killer.

Déjà Dead
Kathy Reichs

Dr. Temperance Brennan is a forensic anthropologist who works in Montreal's Laboratoire de Medecine Legale examining bodies to assist the police in solving murders. When a female corpse is discovered meticulously dismembered and stashed in trash bags, Temperance detects an alarming pattern that plunges her into a harrowing search for a killer.

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Dying in the Wool
by Frances Brody

In a quiet Yorkshire village, the disappearance of a prominent man is big news. Did he run off with his mistress, or could he have been murdered for his money? Kate Shackleton, a lover of puzzles, tries her hand at amateur sleuthing. But as she investigates, Kate uncovers secrets that some would kill to keep hidden.

Dying in the Wool
Frances Brody

In a quiet Yorkshire village, the disappearance of a prominent man is big news. Did he run off with his mistress, or could he have been murdered for his money? Kate Shackleton, a lover of puzzles, tries her hand at amateur sleuthing. But as she investigates, Kate uncovers secrets that some would kill to keep hidden.

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A Great Deliverance
by Elizabeth George

The formidable Scotland Yard Detective Sergeant Barbara Havers and Inspector Thomas Lynley have been sent to solve a savage murder that stunned the otherwise peaceful Yorkshire countryside—but their investigation leads them through a dark labyrinth of secret scandals and appalling crimes that date back more than 300 years.

A Great Deliverance
Elizabeth George

The formidable Scotland Yard Detective Sergeant Barbara Havers and Inspector Thomas Lynley have been sent to solve a savage murder that stunned the otherwise peaceful Yorkshire countryside—but their investigation leads them through a dark labyrinth of secret scandals and appalling crimes that date back more than 300 years.

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