by Janet Ross
Donna Leon is the oldest, born in 1942 in New Jersey. She is the most prolific of the three. There are 27 titles in her Comissario Brunetti series, set in Venice, Italy, where Leon has lived for a number of years before a move to Switzerland.
In the Brunetti novels, he is joined in the series by his wife, a university professor, and two children, an egotistical Vice Questore Patta (his boss), Inspector Vianello, and the lovely, superefficient secretaryreceptionist to Patta, Signorina Elettra. Venice is an important and large part of the series; each book comes with a map.
Besides Brunetti's sleuthing, Leon has produced two nonfiction titles and three books that include musical recordings (another of her passions). German television has produced 22 Comissario Brunetti programs (available from Amazon, with subtitles in English). Although the Brunetti books were all written originally in English, and translated into several languages, by an agreement required by Leon, the novels cannot be translated into Italian.
Book one, published in 1992 was “Death at LaFenice”. Leon's latest, in 2018, is number 27 and titled “The Temptation of Forgiveness.”
Elizabeth George was born in 1949 in Ohio and has 20 Detective Inspector Lynley books to her credit. Set in Great Britain, often in London, DI Lynley is attached to New Scotland Yard. He often works with the stubborn, scruffy Sgt. Barbara Havers who resents his noble title of Lord Asherton due to her workingclass background. Other regulars in the series include longtime friend Simon St. James and the Lady Helen Clyde.
The first book in the series was the awardwinning “A Great Deliverance” in 1988. Public Broadcasting (PBS) has made an Inspector Lynley series and changed the DI's hair color from blond to black (a bit of a shock for fans of the books). Sgt. Havers fares better on the screen in appearance and character.
George has written four Young Adult books, plus a pair of short stories, edited a crime anthology, in addition to those 20 Lynley books. Her most recent book, in 2018, is the meaty, 692 page “The Punishment She Deserves”, with a large cast of unusual individuals, a murder (of course) and tap dancing lessons for Sgt. Havers.
Deborah Crombie is a Texan through and through, born in 1952. She sets her Duncan Kincade/Gemma James crime novels in Great Britain as does George. There are 17 titles in her series that features Kincade at Scotland Yard and Sgt. James in the Metro Police. A romance blooms as the books progress and young children add to the complications of a law enforcement household. Each book includes a charming, area map.
First in the series is “A Share in Death” in 1993. Last year (2017) Crombie produced a great series read in “The Garden of Lamentations.” She has received awards from Macavity for best mystery novel and the New York Times Book of the Year.
If you're not familiar with these mysterious women, you'll find their books – in numerous formats, from Large Print to EBooks – at bookstores, online vendors, and the Library.
Do begin with the first book in a series to follow the continuing development of these great stories and fascinating characters.