Whodunnit: 4 Quirky Detectives from Books and TV

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Detective shows are pretty common, and we’re used to the age-old stereotypes. We have the gruff old cop who knows the ropes, the young new upstart who wants to buck the system. There’s the serious female detective in pantsuits and the family man who drinks a little too much and can’t quite let the job go at the end of the day. But my favorite type isn’t too serious or tortured – no, I love a good quirky detective.

There have been a surprising amount of detectives who use humor and clever deducting skills to solve crimes. Here are three of my favorite – and one book! – that you should definitely be bingeing on:


There have been quite a few modern portrayals of Sherlock Holmes, but none are as engaging as Benedict Cumberbatch. His Sherlock is brilliantly observational and completely socially unaware, with a deep heartfelt streak that’s at odds with his inability to read emotions in others. Add in some mind-bendy plots courtesy of writer Stephen Moffat and you have an all-around brilliant British show. This is the perfect thing to bingewatch on a rainy day when you want to watch someone else be super clever. And while there are only three episodes per season, each is around an hour-and-a-half long, making it feel as though you’re watching several perfectly plotted movies. Come for the insanely fun observational skills, stay for the surprising humor and heart.

Veronica Mars

Best. Show. Ever. Veronica Mars is smart, tough, badass, but secretly a marshmallow. After a traumatic year where her best friend dies and she becomes ostracized by the community, Veronica picks up her father’s private detective skills and solves crimes around her school. She’s also hilarious, super dry and unwilling to put up with crap from anyone. I love her.

And of course we can’t forget Logan—the quintessential bad boy who Veronica ends up falling for. Their love story was so epic that fans tripped over themselves to help fund The Veronica Mars Movie Kickstarter (myself included). Now we have three seasons and a movie to binge on. If you haven’t joined The Veronica Mars bandwagon, now’s the time.


The premise is a little ridiculous: a crime writer uses his fame and connections to join a tough lady detective while they solve crimes together. But never underestimate the incredible charm of Nathan Fillion. He’s smart, funny, quippy, and the perfect foil to his partner’s tough exterior. It’s no wonder that the two end up falling in love—just one of many reasons you should be binging this quirky show.

Tricky Twenty-Two: A Stephanie Plum Novel by Janet Evanovich (Bantam; November 17, 2015)

22_trickytwentytwo_evanovichSure, Stephanie Plum is technically a bounty hunter instead of a detective, but the sassy, fairly normal Jersey girl is no stranger to solving crimes. In this latest installment of Evanovich’s bestselling series, Plum is heading to college and the Zeta fraternity, where she’s just not buying that Ken “Gobbles” beat up the dean of students. But when someone gets murdered, Plum has to use all of her tricks to figure out exactly who the killer is. If you like quirky detectives, then give Stephanie Plum a try.


Rachel Carter grew up surrounded by trees and snow and mountains. She graduated from the University of Vermont and Columbia University, where she received her MFA in nonfiction writing. She is the author of the So Close to You series with Harperteen. These days you can find her working on her next novel in the woods of Vermont.

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