Prefer a clever whodunit to a shocking thriller? You’ve come to the right place. Here’s our pick of the best crime novels that offer a compelling mystery without all the gory details, from Agatha Christie to Ann Cleeves.

Murder the the Vicarage
Agatha Christie

Agatha Christie is the undisputed queen of detective fiction and her tales of the unlikely amateur sleuth, Miss Jane Marple, are some of her most beloved mysteries.
Murder at the Vicarage marks the debut of Christie’s unflappable female detective. With her gift for sniffing out the ‘wickedness in village life’, Miss Marple is led on her first case to a crime scene at the local vicarage where Colonel Protheroe, the magistrate whom everyone in town hates, has been shot through the head.

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A Little Local Murder
Robert Barnard

This classic small-town murder mystery from Robert Barnard has everything you could ask from from a cosy crime novel.
A radio documentary on the small village of Twytching provokes a fierce rivalry amongst the villagers. Inspector George Parrish is keen to stay out of all the fuss until the murder of one of the villagers and a rash of poison pen letters uncovering secrets about Twytching's leading citizens forces him to get involved.

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Agatha Raisin and the Quiche of Death 
M.C. Beaton

M.C. Beaton's series of crime books set in the picture-perfect Cotswolds village of Carsely has recently been turned into a TV drama.
Agatha Raisin has decided to take early retirement in the Cotswolds. To make friends, she enters the local quiche-making competition - and to make quite sure of first prize she secretly pays a visit to a London deli.
When a competition judge succumbs after tasting her perfect quiche, Agatha is revealed as a cheat and potential poisoner. Definitely not the best start. So Agatha must turn amateur sleuth to track down the real killer.

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The Body on the Beach 
Simon Brett

The first book in Simon Brett’s much-loved Fethering series finds Carole and Jude, residents of a retirement town on England's southern coast, teaming up to solve the case of a body that mysteriously appears, and just as suddenly disappears, on a local beach.

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The Human Flies
Hans Olav Lahlum

Hans Olav Lahlum is a historian, chess player, politician and Norway's answer to Agatha Christie.
This first novel in the series featuring ambitious young detective Inspector Kolbjørn Kristiansen, known as K2, and his precocious young assistant Patricia, is an intriguing murder mystery set in an apartment complex in 1960s Oslo.

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Dr Finlay's Casebook 
A J Cronin

Set in and around the fictional Scottish town of Levenford and village of Tannochbrae during the inter-war years, the classic tales of Dr Finlay, his senior colleague Dr Cameron, and their unruffled housekeeper Janet, remain as heart-warming, funny and touching now as they were upon first publication.

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