Best Occult Detective SeriesThese are series in which an intrepid investigator solves mysteries involving the supernatural, often risking everything to save a life or for the greater good. The stories generally feature an investigator confronting some form of evil using their own unique, often supernatural skills, abilities, or equipment.
Dead Witch Walking and the rest of The Hollows series, by Kim Harrison have a practicing witch as the lead investigator. The series takes place in a reality where vampires, witches, fairies, elves, shape shifters and other supernatural beings are known about by the general public. While the magically inclined are known publicly, they are not necessarily accepted or respected by humans, or even other supernatural creatures. Social rules and culture clashes are as common between all the various kinds of paranormal people as they are among people of any varying races or cultures in our world. There are even police and security forces to deal with issues that arise among supernatural creatures, or are perpetrated by paranormal people. Rachel Morgan is a witch who partners with a vampire and fairy to run their own investigation firm after a disastrous leave taking of employment with one such agency. there are thrilling conflicts, startling revelations of personal nature and a larger picture of society all wrapped up in this ongoing series about one witch simply trying to do the best she can despite the various investigations and crises that seem to surround her. Romantic entanglements, gender identity, social equality, bigotry, injustice and other larger issues are explored in the action packed series.
Storm Front and the books that follow in The Dresden Files by Jim Butcher follow one outcast wizard, Harry Dresden, who actually advertises in the yellow pages as a wizard detective. Harry lives by a strict moral code, but one of his own design. He regularly risks everything to help others, save lives and occasionally save the world even though most of the world seems to consider him as something other than a good guy. Vampires, wizards, law enforcement, fae, paranormal pests, religious warriors and one mod boss are the major players in Harry's life. Harry has a sardonic wit, fierce loyalty, sarcasm and constant need to protect anyone and everyone continues to land Harry in situations that will have readers on the edge of their seats. I often find myself holding my breath as I read to find out how Harry and his friend might fare in dangerous situations.
Something from the Nightside and the entire Nightside series by Simon R. Green follows another detective in a world where magic often plays a dangerous role. John Taylor does not actually call himself a detective; he is just a guy that has a special knack for finding people and things that are lost. Nightside is a unique area below London where it is always three a.m. and all sorts of people, creatures and possibilities can be found. John thought he had left his original hometown and birthplace Nightside behind, had wanted to, but he keeps being drawn back into the twisted world of Nightside. Friends and enemies abound, and sometimes it is hard to tell the difference between who wants you dead and who cares about you. A darker and grittier series than the Hollows or Dresden Files, but well worth reading for readers that enjoy noir fiction with a dark take on paranormal and urban fantasy.
Magic Bites and the following books in the Kate Daniels series by Ilona Andrews take place in an extremely well built world where science and magic are definitely at odds. In Kate's world there are moments where magic spikes and all things technological fail and moments when magic fades away. Kate is a paranormal problem solver, dealing with the surges of magic and all the issue that arise because of paranormal people. If you like reading about sexy vampires then this is not the series for you. Vampires and other supernatural beings are not romanticized and the story is much more fantasy than paranormal romance, although there is a slight romantic entanglement that does begin in Magic Bites. The series tends to be fast paced with gore and gritty mystery far outweighing the light romance in the storyline. Supreme world and character building really make this series stand out in the current urban fantasy market.
Unshapely Things and the rest of the Connor Grey series by Mark Del Franco follows Druid and former investigator Connor Grey as he tackles cases that the Guild and other ignore. Connor is helping out with the local police department and dealing with an injury that has left him at a magical disadvantage. He struggles with personal issues, pessimism and cynicism while there are glimmers of an inner hero shinning through at times. The characters are well-crafted and the world extremely well-built. There are twists and turns in the investigations that keep the pages turning and the readers mind working. There are high levels of intrigue and action with a light touch of romance thrown in the series to round out each entry in the series. Fans of Kim Harrison and Jim Butcher will enjoy this series greatly.
Blood Price and the books that follow in the Victoria Nelson series by Tanya Huff follows a human private detective, Vicki Nelson, that partners with her former partner and lover Mike Celluli, as well as Henry Fitzroy who just happens to be a romance writer and the illegitimate son of a vampire and Henry the VIII. Vicki has retinitis pigmentosa, which the reason behind Vicki's retirement from the police force, Mike is far from accepting of the paranormal elements and Henry has the vampire time constraints and complications. There are similarities to the Anita Blake series by Laurell K. Hamilton, with far less of the erotic tone. However, huff is a phenomenal world and character builder so this series feels far from stale or common. The characters are idiosyncratic and entertaining even without the constant action and trilling mysteries to solve. The mysteries and action are the majority of the story, with the romance and relationship complications as a minor element of the series.
Greywalker and the rest of the books in the series by Kat Richardson follow private detective Harper Blaine, whose life changes after a bad day results in her being seriously injured and actually clinically dead for two minutes. Since waking up after the ordeal, Harper is seeing things that no one else seems to see and moves into the 'grey' or a shadowy in between world with its own unique set of dangers. One downside of her new abilities is that supernatural creatures are now drawn to her. Harper receives help learning her new skills from an eclectic cast of characters and use her gift to aide her in her investigations. The action and well thought out system of magic in Harper's world are the high points of the series.
Nightlife and the rest of the Cal Leandros series by Rob Thurman follow the sardonic half-human Caliban Leandro and his brother Niko as they discover just what Cal is and how he came to be. Cal's father and other paranormal creatures are scheming as the brothers keep getting caught up in solving the problems, and saving themselves and the world, as they just try to live their lives. Along the way they learn about the other supernatural beings that live all around them as well as Cal's missing history and the ramifications of everything that brought them to current day. There is a veritable parade of paranormal beings, but common and lesser know to urban fantasy fans. The deeply layered characters, action and sardonic wit make this series a highly entertaining read.
As always, there is not enough room to give descriptions of all the series that are well written in the sub genre of paranormal mysteries, these are just some of my favorites. Other series that you might want to explore if you enjoy this sub genre of books include the Dirk Gently's Holistic Detective Agency series by Douglas Adams, Sandman Slim series by Richard Kadrey, the Moon Shadow series by Maria E. Schneider, the Felix Castor series by Mike Carey, the Joe Pitt series by Charlie Huston, the Moon Shadow series by Maria E. Schneider, the Deadtown series by Nancy Holzner, the Laura Blackstone series by Mark Del Franco, the Twenty Places novels by Harry Connolly, the Remy Chandler series by Thomas E. Sniegoski, the Kara Gillian series by Diana Rowland, and the Rowan Gant Investigation series by M. R. Sellars.