'CORE' Best Lists
- Top 25 Best Mystery Books
- The Top 100 Mystery Books
- Best Mystery Audiobooks
- Best Mystery Books of 2016
- Best Mystery Books of 2015
- Best Mystery Series
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- Best Indie Mystery Books
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- Underrated Mystery Books
'ERA' Best Lists
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- Best Legal Mystery Books
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'AUDIENCE' Best Lists
- Best Mystery Books for Women
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- Best Young Adult Mystery Books
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'FILM' Best Lists
'COMICS' Best Lists
The Bumbling Detective Mystery Genre
What is a Bumbling Detective Mystery?
Whether they are lazy, rude or generally incompetent, these bumbling detectives all have one thing in common, they make us laugh. These detective manage to get to the finish line and solve the case, but the path they take to the denouement is nothing short of amusing. While not a large subgenre, this group of books is adored by those who enjoy this type of humor.
Bumbling Detective Mystery Characteristics
- Level of Characterization
Characterization is not the primary concern of these books. The main characters may be drawn broadly or may be detailed and precise.
- Level of Plot
the plots are usually involved as the detective cannot be shown as so incompetent that they cannot determine that John Doe stabbed his wife if he's standing over the body. So a good plot is required.
- Level of Mystery
the detective has to come to the solution through convoluted means and this requires the mystery to last up to the last few pages.
- Level of Suspense
not a lot of suspense is involved as the characters will come out fine in the end.
- Level of Thriller
these cases rarely have any major repercussions or else the head of the police bureau would be unlikely to assign them to the case.
- Level of Strangeness
the case and the detective can be as strange as the author's imagination. There's no limit to the level of oddity that can appear.
- Level of Violence
these are books with large parts of humor in them, which typically requires a minimal amount of violence and injury.
- Level of Action
the characters may run from place to place, but there's little in the way of fisticuffs in these books.
- Degree of Thriller/Suspense/Crime/Mystery Elements
These fall squarely in the mystery genre because of the humor and the reliance on plot. The characters alone would not be suitable for thrillers or suspense, and they would not fit easily into the more stylized crime novels.
Related MYSTERY Subgenres
Puzzle Mystery . Puzzle plots for the detailed plots that face our intrepid, yet flawed heroes.
Humorous mysteries . Humorous mysteries for the level of mirth that comes from bumbling characters in action.
Bumbling Detective Mystery isn't for you IF...
You like serious novels or don't find bumbling people to be amusing.
- 1 Cold Steal
By Alice Tilton. The bumbling janitor cum school teacher Leonidas Witherall, who bears an uncanny resemblance to William Shakespeare.
- 2 The Columbo Collection
By William Link. Stories about the rumpled detective from the long-running TV show featuring Peter Falk.
- 3 Dover Two
By Joyce Porter.Dover is one of the most unlikable, rude, slovenly men around, and he also solves crimes – or allows his assistant to do so.
- 4 The Spellman Files
By Lisa Lutz. The first in the Edgar-nominated series about bumbling detective Izzy Spellman and her family of private eyes.
- 5 The Sweetness at the Bottom of the Pie
By Alan Bradley. The first of the Flavia De Luce mysteries featuring a girl with a wonderfully morbid mind, but some issues in understanding the ways of her family.
- 6 Armadillos and Old Lace
By Kinky Friedman.A series of novels written by Friedman, which star Friedman as well as the humorous and bumbling sleuth.
One for the Money
By Janet Evanovich. This book introduces Stephanie Plum, bounty hunter with a penchant for stumbling into murder.
- 8 Crocodile on the Sandbank
By Elizabeth Peters. Features the charming, sometimes obtuse, Amelia Peabody who finds murder wherever she goes.
By Richard Castle. Yes, there's a series of books by Richard Castle, who stars in the TV series Castle. The lead character is more used to fictional characters and directing their actions than dealing with "real life" murders.
- 10 The Burglar Who Like to Quote Kipling
By Lawrence Block. thief Bernie Rhodenbarr keeps his bookstore afloat by stealing things for clients. He's not the best at his sideline and often ends up solving crimes to save himself.
- 11 Detective
By Parnell Hall. Stanley Hastings is an actor trying to make it in New York City, while supporting himself as a private eye.
- Detective (Parnell Hall)