Police stories from the UK seem so understated, so quietly methodical yet they all have great intelligence and flashes of the understanding of human nature. Enjoy.
Robert Barnard – Plots with lots of twists are the signature feature of Detective Superintendent Perry Trethowan, who along with Inspector Alleyn (Ngaio Marsh), Lord Peter Wimsey (Dorothy Sayers), Inspector Morse (Colin Dexter) and Chief Inspector Adam Dalgliesh (P. D. James) make up the roster of cultured “gentlemen” detectives.
Ngaio Marsh – After reading an Agatha Christie story, Ms Marsh thought perhaps she could write something in the same vein. “A Man Lay Dead” was written in pencil in 2Penny exercise books. Six months later the book was published and fourteen years later, in 1948, she was awarded an Order of the British Empire. Inspector Alleyn is her handsome, 6’2” policeman.
George Bellairs – Bellairs’ books could be called “cozies”. His policeman, Inspector Littlejohn, lives on the Isle of Man and the books carry a lot of the Isle’s color.
Caroline Graham – One of my favorite British policemen is Inspector Barnaby with his sidekick, Sergeant Troy. In the long-running series on BBC-TV, “Midsomer Murders”, Barnaby is played to perfection by John Nettles.
Elizabeth George – Detective Inspector Thomas Lyndley is a reluctant “gentleman” (he is a reluctant Earl, as well). He and his partner, (irreverent, working-class, workaholic Barbara Havers) have been in 15 novels so far.
Christopher Fowler – Off-beat, quirky, fresh, and funny are just a few words to describe Arthur Bryant and John May. These two, long-past retirement age coppers are part of London’s “Peculiar Crimes Division”. Elderly they may be, but they are not “senior meddlers”; they are real pros taking on some very quirky cases. It’s a very enjoyable series.
Reginald Hill – Superintendent Andrew Dalziel (pronounced Dee-Ell) is a fat, opinionated man that only a mother could love. His partner, Chief Inspector Peter Pascoe, is a sexy, liberal guy who will steal your heart. The two manage to form a partnership that really works.
Deborah Crombie – Here’s a twist: an award-winning series about a British policeman, Superintendent Duncan Kincaid, and his partner Sergeant Gemma Jones is written by an American. (A Texan, no less).
Cynthia Harrod-Eagles – Bill Slider is an excellent policeman and a rather normal guy. It may sound dull, but this series is well-crafted, with absolutely believable characters and dialogue that borders on perfection.
P. D. James – Commander Adam Dalgliesh of New Scotland Yard is often called one of the last of the “gentlemen” detectives. Although he is a gentleman in the finest sense of the word, he is not a “gentleman” in the British sense of the word as his father was a parish minister. Educated, private, poetry-writer Dalgliesh is always a great read.