Reginald Hill's Pascoe and Dalziel series plays with the contrast between the blunt, cunning, stereotypical Yorkshireman Chief Inspector Dalziel (pronounce Dee-el) and his intellectual (even sensitive) assistant Pascoe and Ellie, Pascoe's feminist wife. The series starts here, and the contrast between the players is not yet fully exploited, but the books have achieved significant popularity and been televised.
There's nothing cozy about Val McDermid's books. She does write series, but "A Place Of Execution" stands alone. Its setting is a remote village in the Peak District of Derbyshire, where winter snows can cut off communities for days on end. A girl goes missing, and a young detective has to break through the closed ranks of villagers to discover what has happened to her.
Charles Todd's first entry in the Inspector Ian Rutledge series shows him recently returned to Scotland Yard having just returned from the trenches at the end of WWI. He's not in the best of shape, but he's determined to fight his demons and solve the murder of an army colonel. Charles Todd is actually a mother and son who live in the USA and write together, but they get all the British details right.
Peter James began his writing career with scary stories about the supernatural. Fortunately, he turned his writing toward mystery with "Dead Simple" in which he introduced Roy Grace, a Brighton detective whose life and work is complicated and overshadowed by the unexplained disappearance of his wife.
Long suffering Scottish Highlands policeman Hamish Macbeth has become a popular character for author M.C. Beaton. In this story, a visiting writer who establishes a writers' circle meets an unpleasant end. Hamish begins looking for deeper meaning in the writer's stories, including a strange, unfinished soap opera script that seems to suggest a more sinister motive behind its author's death.
In Inspector Adam Dalgliesh, the Scotland Yard detective and published poet, P.D. James created one of Britain's most enduring police characters, even though he remains somewhat distant and unreachable, a man of thought more than action. This mystery revolves around a community of forensic scientists who, in spite of their seen-it-all-before attitude with regard to murder and mayhem, are taken by surprise when a member of their own team is found murdered.
Award-winning author John Harvey has created two distinct characters. Charlie Resnick was his first, a detective of Polish heritage working from a busy office in Nottingham. Frank Elder is his second, a retired officer tracking down cold cases and other crimes. In "Flesh & Blood," the first Elder novel, Elder is haunted by the past and in particular by the unsolved disappearance of a 16-year-old girl.
Ruth Rendell is incredibly prolific. (She also publishes under the pseudonym Barbara Vine.) Her Inspector Wexford character, a solid, family man, was introduced in "From Doon With Death," in which the Inspector uses thorough detective work to learn why a housewife is brutally strangled and left in the woods.
Wingfield's Detective Inspector Jack Frost first became familiar to many American readers through the British televised series based on the character. He's a lovable though difficult character, easily irritated, opposed to all the trends of modern policing. He is also a crack detective who always solves the crime, but in his own way.
Peter Robinson's Detective Chief Inspector Alan Banks is sent to Yorkshire, where a dried water reservoir yields the skeleton of a woman who has been dead for fifty years. He learns the victim was a flirtatious World War II farm girl. The area was full of Yanks and her husband was at the front. So who killed her?
Britain's bestselling crime author is reputed to be Ian Rankin. He puts his Detective John Rebus in Scotland's charming and historic city of Edinburgh rather than the grittier city of Glasgow, but he still finds plenty of crime to fight.
Champion jockey Dick Francis turned to writing fiction when his riding career ended, and he wrote about crime in the world he knew so well and with such success he was able to live his life in a luxurious beachfront condominium in the Cayman Islands. "Odds Against" was his first book to feature jockey turned private detective Sid Halley.
Ann Cleeves has set this series in the most remote area of Britain she could find, the Shetland Islands. It's ungenerous land with a harsh climate. Her main character, Jimmy Perez, is descended from a sailor in the Spanish Armada whose ship came to grief on the rugged coastline centuries ago. His investigation into the murder of a teenage girl exposes secrets throughout the small community.
Simon Brett worked in radio and television for 20 years, and knows well the world of theater about which he writes in the Charles Paris mysteries. "Star Trap" begins with Paris investigating a series of accidents that threaten to sabotage a new musical production.
Sally Spencer has written a couple of series. "Stone Killer" is part of the Chief Inspector Woodend series. It has an unusual plot. A criminal takes hostages inside a bank and summons Woodend to solve a crime that took place 25 years ago before he will allow the hostages to be released.
Minette Walters writes unsettling murder mysteries with strong story lines and characters. Several of her books have been televised. "The Ice House" puts an investigator into the middle of a community charged with hate, dealing with a body so decomposed nobody is sure who it is.
In his long Harpur and Iles series, author Bill James explores the relationships among police officers and the criminal community in a large seaside town, not unlike Brighton. The solving of crimes is described alongside the politics of policing and the understandings that develop between criminals and those who would capture them.
Aird published her first novel, "The Religious Body," in 1966. She has received the Crime Writers' Association Golden Handcuffs Award for lifetime achievement after publishing more than 20 crime novels. She is best known for her series featuring Detective Chief Inspector C.D. Sloan. In "The Religious Body," Sloan's task is to find the murderer of a cloistered nun.
Lovejoy, the character created by Jonathan Gash (a qualified M.D. and pathologist), is an antiques dealer not above doing some shady dealing of his own. His expertise helps him solve crimes in the antiques world. The series is set in rural East Anglia. In "The Rich And The Profane," he is asked to appraise the antiques at a priory, giving him the opportunity to play both sides of the fence. Lovejoy became a popular television series, but the written character is more crooked than the televised one.