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Top 25 Fantasy Mystery Books

Fantasy Books That Have a Mystery to Solve...

Love mystery books with a fantastical fantasy element to them? We're talking a world that just might include witches, wizards, and more than a little magic.

And while such a story could easily be categorized as a fantasy book, it can also be just as much a mystery book IF solving a mystery makes up a core part of the story. And while it's not necessary easy to pin down how much of a book's plot must be devoted to the solving of a mystery to be counted as a 'Mystery Book', we've done our best to list fantasy books with a very strong mystery plot to them -- such as uncover a strange murder, solve a magical crime, or about a down and out wizard P.E.

Welcome to the wonderful world of fantasy mystery books. Some of these books really do combine the absolute best from the fantasy genre with the best of the mystery genre to create a hybrid story that's very enjoyable indeed. Even better, you don't necessary have to be either a 'Mystery' fan or a 'Fantasy' fan to enjoy these books.

Note that Fantasy Mystery Books may sometimes cross into the Paranormal Mystery subgenre, Urban Fantasy genre, and Paranormal Romance genre.

Welcome to the alternate world of Swindon, UK, which is now a republic and the Crimean War continues unabated and dodo birds are kept as pets. In this series, the world of literature and real life intersect in amusing and alarming ways. Thats why SO-27, the literature detectives, was created. Thursday Next works for special operations, and she deals with wayward characters from novels and books where the endings change, which updates all copies of the text. It helps to be a book lover to follow the series, because Fforde makes a number of literary references in the books that can make the reader smile. Thursdays family is nearly as confusing as the premise, but the author brings all the threads together and gives Thursday a husband to boot. Be sure to check out the website which is almost as much fun as the books.

Why It Made the List

This was the first book in the Next series, and most likely the best as no one was expecting anything like it. It developed a small renaissance in fantasy and alternate reality mysteries.

'Read It If You Like'

alternative realities, literary mysteries, adventure, special operations

Books in Thursday Next Series (8)

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This is the first book in Harris' most famous series about Sookie Stackhouse and the small town of Bon Temps, Louisiana. Sookie has always been different in that she can hear the thoughts of other people. This leaves her angry at times and alone, since no one wants to have everything they think up for discussion. It isn't until she meets a vampire that she realizes that their thoughts are not audible to her. Vampires have recently ''come out,'' and society is still getting used having the undead in their midst. Sookie is drawn to Bill, a vampire with roots in the town. When it becomes clear that someone is killing people in Bon Temps because of their affiliation with vampires, her romance with Bill puts her on the killer's list. Sookie has to solve a murder case to keep from being killed.

Why It Made the List

The series was filmed for HBO as True Blood, and while the TV series strayed far from the books, the fame of the series by Alan Ball made the books incredibly popular. Harris has since finished the series and now writes other works about supernatural creatures.

'Read It If You Like'

vampires, telepaths, murder mysteries

Books in Sookie Stackhous... Series (13)

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After a virus leaves half the world as supernatural creatures, the rest of the world hunkers down to become a brave new society. Rachel Morgan is a troubleshooter in a new version of Cincinnati who takes on vampires and demon criminals for money, even though her friend Ivy has become a vampire from the virus. In this case, there appears to be a serial killer who is targeting some very dark witches. Obviously not a good move to anger these witches, and it's not a good move to stick your nose in where it doesn't belong. However, Rachel does with her impetuous nature with some surprising results.

Why It Made the List

This is the second book in the series, and the author continues to grow with each novel in the series. She does a phenomenal job at creating a different world in her series. In this second novel, she's still on the lookout for the man who messed with her in the previous book. The multi-book arc works well here and brings an added depth to the novel.

'Read It If You Like'

supernatural elements, urban noir, female private eyes

Books in The Hollows Series (16)

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book in her Bardic Voices series. Tal Rufen, the local constable, begins to notice a pattern. Young girls of a poor background are dying. They're being killed a three-sided stiletto, and in each case, the killer commits suicide, so that there's no trial or uproar about the case. The weapon is typically only found in a church setting, but the crimes don't have anything to do with the church or do they? Despite the warnings from his superiors that this case is not worth pursuing since the victims were not rich and the crimes are solved, Tal wants to find out what's behind this series of killings. He suspects a larger force behind the crimes and he's right.

Why It Made the List

Mercedes Lackey, by herself and with others, has written dozens of fantasy books in many different universes. Her works have been published worldwide and many, like this book with its questions about the worth of human life to society and social caste, have larges themes than just the magical world she creates.

'Read It If You Like'

Fantasy, serial killers

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Harry Dresden is a wizard. He has decided to use his power to solve minor crimes to make a living, so he opens up his own private eye firm, the only one in Chicago that has its own wizard. When the police have a case that involves black magic, they come to Harry, who quickly agrees to take it on since business stinks. However, Harry has forgotten that magic requires a wizard and black magic requires a powerful black arts wizard, who is already aware of Harry and his reputation. Given that Harry has already crossed the mob and been put on a sort-of magical probation, the private eye's troubles are just beginning. This series is a great mix of the class private eye fiction along with the supernatural, magic arts.

Why It Made the List

The Dresden Files are a much beloved series which had a short stint on TV. While the television show bombed, the series of books keeps getting better and better. Nothing like starting with the first in the series. The character is well-drawn with a strong voice. Definitely recommended.

'Read It If You Like'

private eye novels, magic, wizards

Books in The Dresden File... Series (18)

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In this first in the series book, Thulu and Fiona have a detective agency that caters to those who are already dead. The In the classic form of the detective story, the client in this case comes to the detective agency with a seemingly simple case, find a missing locket. However, the cases are never that simple, and it soon becomes apparent that the locket is of great value. Gabriel, an enemy of the client, wants to use the portal to open the way for supernatural creatures to come to Earth and feed on humans. Gabriel is an angel who threatens Thulu and Fiona and their families, so the stakes raise even higher.

Why It Made the List

This is a different take on the usual type of detective story, and the usual type of fantasy novel. The typical ''good and bad'' characters are reversed which adds a unique component to the book where the reader has to envision a society where these roles are reversed. It's a different concept that is likely to keep the reader reading a good mystery. There are three books in this series.

'Read It If You Like'

female detective series, magic, demons

Books in Modern Magics Series (3)

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When a local fortune teller announces that a couple is likely to divorce soon, everyone goes to the shop run by Carly Bel Hartwell for a love potion, one of her many potions. Carly takes advantage of the rush in sales in the small town of Hitching Post, Alabama. However, the run on magic stops when a man is found dead in the shop, and Carly has to prove that she was not the person who bumped off the town lawyer, who was involved in investigating a case of embezzlement. Of course, she has the help of her ex-boyfriend, who happens to belong to the local police force and her family, many of whom also have special powers used in commercial ways.

Why It Made the List

There are a number of cozy mystery series that involve witchcraft and good magic. This is probably one of the best of them. The characters are charming and the mysteries are well-done. The fantasy aspects are important to the mystery, but do not overwhelm the series.

'Read It If You Like'

cozy mysteries, small town crimes, romantic suspense

Books in A Magic Potion ... Series (3)

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This high-tension thriller starts off with a murder at the auction house, Sotheby's. The murder was apparently set off by an Iroquois ritual mask that is found next to the murder victim. One of the main characters, Livia who is a vampire, was supposed to be allowed to view the mask before the auction, but she cannot since it is evidence of a crime. Her suitor, Spencer, is attacked by a wolf in Central Park before he can meet up with Livia. Fortunately, he's a vampire, so the damage is not lasting. Together with a Catholic priest, they begin to investigate the crimes. It soon becomes apparent that the mask, the murder and the wolf are related through a plot that would potentially destroy the world at the next full moon.

Why It Made the List

This is the second book in the series and the first to introduce werewolves to the series. The depth of the novel increases as the supernatural world that Thomas, Livia and Spencer live within. This series reads like a top-notch thriller with the addition of supernatural elements. Definitely worth checking out.

'Read It If You Like'

vampires, werewolves, thrillers

Books in A Novel of Secre... Series (2)

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The book came about when Chabon, while doing research, discovered that the Allies had discussed giving the Jewish refugees its own land in Alaska rather than the Middle East. 

This alternate history begins on the premise that the Jewish people were given this land instead. In the book, Israel was defeated by the Arabs and was absorbed into other counties. As a result, the refugees moved to Alaska to create a similar, albeit colder, state. Against this scenario, Chabon develops an alcoholic police officer, who discovers a dying man in his flophouse. In the ways of Golden Age detective fiction, the dead man has left a dying clue, a chessboard with an unfinished game on it. The detective becomes obsessed with the case, despite the fact that it leads to the mafia and his own ex-wife. 

It's strange, zany, and oh so readable!

Why It Made the List

The book was nominated in multiple genres, scoring a number of science-fiction award nominations because of the alternate universe presented in the novel, mystery award nominations for the mystery within. 

Chabon is a Pulitzer winner for his other non-genre works, and he's made forays into mystery fiction before (which his wife writes) with novels about Sherlock Holmes and others. This list tops many science fiction and fantasy award lists, though at the heart it's still a mystery.

If you are looking for a twisted speculative-fiction meets mystery, we can't recommend this book enough.

'Read It If You Like'

ethnic mysteries, alternative universes, drunk detectives

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 Its all fun and games until the clown gets murdered, which is exactly what happens in this book. The clown had a secret that he shared before his death. Ankh-Morpork has a royal heir, who is unaware of his lineage. The kingdom has run amok waiting for a ruler to appear, and a war between the trolls and dwarfs appears imminent. The problem with this secret is that the heir is Captain Carrott who has recently become the commander of the Ankh-Morporks Night Watch. 

His predecessor is a descendant of the man responsible for killing the kingdoms last ruler, so tension sets in as the secret is shared and more people learn about the king-to-be. Even with the clown dead, the book has a very humorous bent that is guaranteed to bring a smile.

Why It Made the List

The Discworld series spans over 40 books and a variety of other formats, such as short story collections and spin-offs, making it one of the largest series in the fantasy realm. The author was knighted in 2009 and passed away in 2015. His creations continue to be very popular and with Pratchett's passing, his works are regarded as modern classics. 

'Read It If You Like'

Funny, Fantasy, Swashbuckling, Humor -- and not necessary in that order

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Alexia Maccon, the Lady Woolsey, awakens to find her husband, who is a werewolf, howling uncontrollably before he rushes out of their home and disappears. Alexia has her own powers. She was born without a soul and therefore can transform supernatural creatures into humans temporarily, and can exorcise ghosts. Soldiers decide to investigate the disappearance upon the order of no-less-than Queen Victoria. Alexia must travel to Scotland (in a dirigible of all things) and learn about her husband's past while trying to navigate the world of pack dynamics for werewolves. This book does end with a cliffhanger that almost forces the reader to continue the series, but it doesn't take away from the sparkling wit and supernatural world presented here.

Why It Made the List

This is a delightful series that merges together the 19th century novel of manners with an all-out supernatural adventure. The series is called the parasol protectorate, giving a nod to the fact that Alexia Maccon relies heavily on this weapon for her protection. Well worth a read.

'Read It If You Like'

Victorian mysteries, werewolves

Books in Parasol Protecto... Series (5)

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There must be something about mysteries and alternative universes, because this novel is another great example of that combination. In this book, Richard the Lion-Heart wasnt shot and killed in a siege in 1199. He lived on and produced an heir who ruled both England and the lands in France. Without Richards death, there was no magna carta 16 years later, and the king rules at his pleasure. 

The sleuth in the book is Lord Darcy, who serves as an investigator to Richard of Normandy, the heir to the throne. Hes joined by a Forensic Sorcerer Sean O Lochlainn, who is accused of murder while at a convention of wizards. The murder occurs in a locked room, meaning that the mystery is as fascinating as the look at a different England.

Why It Made the List

Garrett had to rewrite all of British history after allowing Richard to live. The Church of England doesnt exist, because the Tudors never came to the throne, which means that the society is still Roman Catholic. Locked room mysteries, while all the rage during the 1930s and 1940s, are hard to find these days, so each one should be treasured. This series is a classic and, arguably, one of the best examples of the genre.

'Read It If You Like'

British mysteries, impossible crimes, locked room crimes, alternate history

Books in Lord Darcy Series (3)

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Rossignol (French for nightingale which is where the title comes from) is missing. She was once a happy singer, but since meeting the Cavendishes, who run their own management company, she has begun to sing only the saddest of songs. These songs are so tragic that the audience members frequently off themselves after a performance. She only performs in the small part of London where magic and the supernatural exist. However, when John Taylor, the private eye with the unique ability to find anything, has been hired by Rossignol's parents and must looking for her, the Cavendishes have gone missing, and he has to meet up with this modern day Medusa and possibly pay with his life. Taylor also has his own problems in that the powers-that-be want him to pay for shutting down the power grid in the magical part of London.

Why It Made the List

This series has a strong mystery presence in it, and each book has its own stand-alone mystery plot. These books are well-written and thought-provoking. Definitely worth looking up this series.

'Read It If You Like'

hard-boiled detectives, dark novels

Books in Nightside Series (14)

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Zoe Miller is an archaeologist at first glance, but she's also a member of the Fangborn, an organization of werewolves and other supernaturals. The Fangborn fights evil, and Zoe needs their help after her cousin is kidnapped by a Russian baddie. The mythical creatures take some getting used to; they're not the same movie tropes that the readers are used to. It turns out that the kidnapping was done to bring Zoe out in the open to help retrieve Pandora's Box, which still has its potential to end the world as it's known. Therefore, the Fangborn with the help of Zoe, who has claimed her past, must fight against those who would destroy the world.

Why It Made the List

Dana Cameron continues to win award after award for her Fangborn series. She's written a number of short stories that continue to be nominated. She's won the Agatha, the Anthony and the Macavity, along with an Edgar nomination from Mystery Writers of America.

'Read It If You Like'

werewolves, ancient societies, archaeology

Books in The Fangborn Series (3)

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This is the second book in Jones' series, and the book has a thriller edge to it. At the outermost regions of the kingdom, young men are going missing and are later found dead. The authorities believe that only a few men have died, but in fact the number is much higher. Dubric Byerly, head of security at Castle Faldorrahm, know the exact number because he's cursed to have all the victims' ghosts follow him around. So when the latest victim's ghost doesn't not show up to demand justice, he knows the young man must still be alive but Dubric knows that it's just a matter of time before the killer ends the young man's life. He has to act fast to find the killer before he strikes again.

Why It Made the List

Jones uses a unique set of skills to allow the characters to handle some forensics in the book, not what would be expected in a fantasy novel where the characters feel more medieval than modern. This is the second book in the series, but all the books are recommended to anyone who likes fantasy.

'Read It If You Like'

fantasy, elves, knights, thrillers

Books in Dubric Bryerly Series (3)

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Set in 1817, this book reads something like a Regency romance and part like Harry Potter. The novel is epistolary, which means the two main characters Kate and Cecelia write letters back and forth to each other. Kate is having ''her season'' in London, while her friend is spending the season in the country, away from the social aspect of society. Both are involved with magic and odd things are happening to them. Cecelia is being followed by a stranger, and someone is trying to poison Kate. Then when an acquaintance becomes popular, attractive to all who see her, then the pair decide to look into things.

Why It Made the List

The book has wonderful plotting and a great way with words. The authors evoke Jane Austen and JK Rowling at once and the result is a whole lot of fun.

'Read It If You Like'

Regency, fantasy, novels written as letters

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How to describe this book in 200 words? Well, it's the story of Jack, the boy from the small town who decides to see the big city he's heard so much about except that the city turns out to be tougher and meaner than he expected. So far so good, except the city is Toy City, and a serial killer is offing the older characters in the tale, the original characters from nursey rhymes. Jack goes to Private Eye Bill Winkie, except Willie Winkie has taken a powder. WInkie's partner, Eddie Bear, has to help Jack as they have to take down a mysterious killer, all while having some good old-fashioned fun.

Why It Made the List

Besides getting the award for one of the best and most memorable titles in fiction, the alternate universe is well-planned and executed; the reader will recognize the characters and situations from nursery rhymes, while the plot is worthy of any private eye novel around, if the private eye in the story hadn't gone missing. Rankin is a well-known entertainer as well as author, and nothing is more entertaining than his fiction.

'Read It If You Like'

nursery rhymes, private eye novels

Books in Eddie Bear Series (2)

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Aisling Grey is a courier, but she sees it more as a way to get a free trip to Paris. She's delivering a precious demonic artifiact to Madame Deauxville, but Deauxville won't need it because she's dead. Someone has killed the recipient. Aisling meets Drake Vireo, a hottie in every sense of the word as he's a dragon in human form. However, as much as Aisling is turned on by this fire-breathing-man, she's floored by the fact that he steals the package from her. Now he's given Aisling something in return. He's told her that she is a demon lord and is destined to be his mate. Her first attempt at summoning a demon goes awry, when the demon takes the form of a Newfoundland dog, that wants to be walked and slobbers constantly. Now she has to sort out a confusing personal life while solving a devilishly confusing crime.

Why It Made the List

This book is a little bit of everything and it's guaranteed to please. There's romance, mystery and plenty of fantasy in this book. Sadly, the author isn't sure if she's continuing this series, but fingers crossed that she does. It's always a fun time.

'Read It If You Like'

fantasy, romance, humor, mystery, hell, just read it

Books in Aisling Grey Series (4)

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Raine Benares is a Sorceress and a Seeker who manages to get by. When her friend, Quentin, is asked to retrieve an amulet from a necromancer, she helps out and learns that the amulet has great power. So much so that it gives her unlimited power, which is not a trait she had aspired to. Of course, there are many people who want to get their hands on unlimited power, those with political ambitions and those who want to take revenge. She soon finds herself in trouble with the necromancer who owned the stone, an army of ghouls, and a goblin dark mage who steals the stone, but cannot break the bond unless he kills Raine.

Why It Made the List

This reads like a magical caper novel. Raine is brought into the crime by the hapless friend who manages to get his hands on something far beyond his ken. The twists and turns of the story's plot in terms of the main characters and the challenges they meet are all well-done and keep the reader enthralled.

'Read It If You Like'

capers, magic

Books in Raine Benares Series (10)

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Vicki Nelson is a former Toronto police officer who was sidelined by a rare eye condition. As a result, she had to quit the force and become a private eye. In one of her cases, a young man is killed by having all of his blood drained from him. His girlfriend hires Nelson to learn more. Rumors of vampirism abound, though Nelson doesn't believe in them until she meets the undead member of the British royal family, Henry FitzRoy, the illegitimate son of Henry VIII, who happens to be a vampire and a romance writer who is looking for the same vampire that she is. Since Nelson can't see at night due to her eye condition, the pair decide to work together, Nelson during the day and Henry at night.

Why It Made the List

There are five books in the series, and this was adapted for Lifetime. Each book is well-written and informs the reader about life in the Tudor court. Huff is one of the most well-known of the contemporary fantasy writers today.

'Read It If You Like'

British royalty, vampires, female private eyes

Books in Vicki Nelson Series (6)

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As if the Inquisition wasn't bad enough by itself, in this alternate universe the Lords of Hell were forced to confess their crimes. Now these people are treated poorly in Capital City, where they must live in a ghettoized area. They stand out with their black fingernails and unique eye color, so it's easy for the people of the city to find them and literally make their lives hell (pardon the pun.) When Captain Harper of the Inquisition police/brotherhood needs help finding his sister in the ghetto, he goes to Belimai Sykes, a private eye who is descended from demons and strung out on a dangerous drug.

Why It Made the List

This book has a unique combination of features that make it very readable. First, the use of the Inquisition, one of the ugliest times in history, makes for a bleak worldview. Then the inclusion of demons and magic bring a further edge to the tale. Finally, the book has an attraction between Harper and Sykes that is unexpected, but in character. Well worth the read.

'Read It If You Like'

historicals, demons, dark private eye

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Nicholas Valiarde wants revenge. He's a nobleman who was unable to help his godfather, who was falsely accused and executed for the crime of necromancy. To achieve his goals of revenge against Count Montesq, Valiarde becomes a criminal, stealing valuable gems and jewelry from the other noblemen. However, things begin to happen that block Valiarde from achieving his goals and things that suggest that perhaps his godfather really had dabbled in necromancy. People end up dead and bones show up in the sewer gates. Each of the characters is hiding secrets from the others and the reader learns the truth about each character as the novel progresses. The situations continue until Valiarde is brought to a house where the face of evil is unveiled.

Why It Made the List

The author has gone to great lengths to develop the world she's developed and it shows. The novel also uses a unique blend of thriller, mystery, magic, and romance to make it different than most of the fantasy novels published. Highly recommended for its uniqueness.

'Read It If You Like'

master criminals, Victorian Europe, necromancy

Books in Ile-Rien Series (5)

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Beka Cooper is the latest addition to the Provost Guard, a group called the ''Dogs.'' She's only called a ''puppy,'' since she's new. Beka is painfully shy and has few friends, so it's a real challenge when she's sent to the Lower City of Corus, the capital of Tortall. Of course it's where Beka grew up, and lost her mother the worst part of town for her to be in. Beka has some supernatural powers as well. She can hear the spirits of the dead. Someone is using magic to profit from the crime in the Lower City, and Beka, like the terrier of the title, isn't going to let it go.

Why It Made the List

The story has a youngish protagonist (16 years old) and was nominally written for young adults, but the story is so engaging and fascinating that all ages will enjoy it. The main character is painfully shy, and the author gets around that by having the story told from Beka's diary entries. This gives the reader unlimited access to Beka's point of view and really draw the reader into the story.

'Read It If You Like'

Shy characters, new police, magic

Books in Beka Cooper Series (3)

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Harper Connelly was struck by lightning and now has the ability to see the last few moments of a person's life. In some cases, the killing is clear like when the killer faces the victim, but at other times, the visions only show where the crime happened without being able to tell what happened. Harper is called to North Carolina to find the body of a younger runaway boy. The client neglects to tell Harper that there have been seven previous missing boys who have never been found. Harper finds the bodies of the missing boys, but the crime is not solved. She is attacked before she can leave, and has to stay to help solve the case.

Why It Made the List

Harris is on the list twice. After starting her Sookie Stackhouse series, she wrote a number of other paranormal mysteries. She has an incredible voice for each of the characters and a unique way of showing how they cope with their gifts. It's hard to write this category without seeing her books recommended all over the place.

'Read It If You Like'

psychic, mystery, dark fiction

Books in Harper Connelly Series (4)

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This is something of an unusual fantasy in that the fantasy elements are indeed visible, including dragons, but it's very rooted in the 1980s. Macavoy is very decided about her use of specific technology that was available in the early part of that decade. The story starts when Martha gets an airline ticket from her daughter Elizabeth. Their relationship has been hit and miss for years, with Elizabeth only calling in the middle of the night and only by phone. Martha heads to San Francisco to find out what's wrong with her daughter, but gets nowhere. She does meet Mayland Long, who is immediately attracted to Martha. They start to look into Elizabeth's location and her life for the past several years. However, Martha is kidnapped and now the smitten Mr. Long has to find her and solve the mystery.

Why It Made the List

MacAvoy won the Campbell Award for best new writer and the Locus Award for best first novel with this book. The book was also nominated for the World Fantasy Award, the Nebula and the Hugo. Tea with the Black Dragon also received special citation for the Philip K. Dick Award. Not bad for the first time out of the gate.

'Read It If You Like'

Chinese culture, fantasy, early computers, amateur sleuths

Books in Black Dragon Series (4)

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