Here are a few of my favorite authors/series:
Sue Grafton, "A" is for Alibi, "B" is for Burglar, "C" is for Corpse, etc. Spunky female detective Kinsey Millhone is a detective who runs her own little detective agency, lives in Santa Barbara, (fictionalized as Santa Theresa) Ca, and often winds up in compromising situations where she must use her intuition and pluck to escape. Kinsey is folksy, warm, wry, and lovably quirky, moral without being preachy, full of human foibles, supported by a cast of realistically drawn adorable friends and co-workers. This all sounds like cliched truisms, but Kinsey grows throughout the series, confronts many demons from her past, and she is never perfect. The pacing of these novels is just right (not too frantic, not too slow) and Grafton's writing style has sharpened over the years. Kinsey's ruminations are often profoundly quotable meditations on life, love, guilt, death, human relationships. Grafton's voice is heavily influenced by her own personal background and values. What separates her novels from imitators (Janet Evanovich's One for the Money, Two for the Show, etc series) is that in Evanovich's books, after you've read about three of them, you realize the plots are all the same and the characters never change or grow. The pacing is so frantic as to leave me with a headache as I realize my chest is pounding bc I have forgotten to breathe. Most importantly, I get to the point where I start to shout "Don't do it ! " or "You idiot!" as I am reading Evanovich's work, and have to stop. Grafton's books I can read over and over again; they are like zen meditations on whatever the topic of the story is. Beautifully crafted, I never get tired of them. Grafton says she will finish the alphabet...we are already at "V"....what will we do when we reach "Z"?