Top 25 Fantasy Mystery Books

The Best Fantasy Books that are also Mystery Books
Top 25 Fantasy Mystery Books

If you like mystery books and fantasy books, then you are going to love this list: a selection of fantasy books that double down as a mystery tale.

Now mysteries are often a regular part of fantasy (or regular fiction) for that matter. But what separates these books is the focus on the mystery elements. Often, these books feature a detective of sorts (in a fantasy world of course) trying to solve a mystery.

Or the entire plot revolves around a mystery that needs solving. Or the book has a decidedly noir or hardboiled aesthetic to it. Some of these books are urban fantasy and involve detectives, police investigations and more -- but with a fantastical / fantasy element to the story.

Welcome to the wacky, oddball world where the fantasy and mystery genres intersect and, on some cases, collide.

This makes for some interesting reading and some of the best fantasy books are in fact both mystery books and fantasy books.

We've carefully selected our picks for what we consider the best mystery fantasy books.

So read this list and pick up a few of our best recommendations to get your mystery fix 'solved.'

For More Recommendations...

If you want PURE mystery-only recommendations, check our sister site -- it's the best mystery book resource site on the web, and you'll get dozens of type-specific mystery book lists to look at. We also have a list of the best fantasy mystery books there too. And if you want the science fiction version of this list, check out the best science fiction mystery books on our sister site.

Imagine an alternate world where the world of books and people collide. It does in this delightful series by Jasper Fforde. I could spend the next 10,000 words trying to explain the alternate world created by Fforde, but in short, Swindon, England circa 1985 is an alternate world where the dodo bird is still around and the Crimean War has never ended. Thursday Next, a special operative for the Literary Division has to stop the kidnapping of characters from novels. When the original text is altered, then all copies are changed. It's a challenge that Next has to face Acheron Hades, the villain behind the scheme and the Goliath Corporation. Fforde also has a website that supports this alternate world, and needs to be read carefully.Why It Made the List This novel is the first of six books in a well-loved series, especially for those who love books and reading. There so many tongue in cheek references and sly mentions of books that the reader will be challenged to keep up with Thursday and the author.'Read It If You Like'alteranative realities, literary mysteries, adventure

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There is no author that writes anything like this series. It's an original.

HBO created must-see television with True Blood. The same can't be said for the series it's based on. Harris is one of the worst writers on this list. Her abilities with words are about as good as a mediocre high school student's. What she has done with Sookie Stackhouse is create a world where the paranormal, politics and the South have combined in a heady mix.Harris is a methodic writer. Her books follow a similar formula in each novel, but these books are still fun to read, fast paced and interesting. And, while there are a million plot holes, there's something quite addictive about a vampire noir whodunit set it the South.One of the things this series has going for it is that the characters are never wholly good or bad – they're complex creatures with agendas and motivations that will keep you interested much longer than you thought you would be. In addition, Harris makes some very George R.R.-esque decisions with regard to you know, killing and death and stuff. Don't expect your favorite characters to survive. This adds a level of unpredictability to a series that wouldn't warrant your attention if it didn't have some shock value.

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Jim Butcher, Heather Blake

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

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Patricia Briggs

Lackey tends to write short series of books, trilogies and such. This is the fourth 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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Marion Zimmer Bradley, Andre Norton

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

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There aren't a lot of private eye wizards, but there are a number of books in this series

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

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There aren't many similar books to these.

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

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Leigh Perry, JoAnna Carl, Rose Pressey

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

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James Rollins

In this book, Chabon created a world where Israel had never been founded after World War II. Instead the state of displaced Jews is located in Sitka, Alaska. Chabon used real-life historical documents which suggested just such a plan to relocate the Jewish population. In the fictional world, the country of Israel was lost to the Arabs shortly after its inception and the plans moved these people to Alaska instead. Against this intriguing backdrop Chabon creates the familiar alcoholic detective who finds a dead man in his flophouse with an unfinished game of chess as the only dying clue in the case. The detective involves his partner as the case turns into a matter with ties to the mafia and possibly the detective's ex-wife.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.'Read It If You Like'ethnic mysteries, alternative universes, alcoholic detectives

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Harry Kemelman wrote a series of mysteries about a rabbi.

Captain Sam Vimes of the Ankh-Morpork's Night Watch retires and leaves Captain Carrott in charge of the command. When a clown is murdered in Ankh-Morpork, it would appear that the funnyman had a secret, that Ankh-Morpork has a royal heir, who has not been informed of his role and has not served. As a result, the kingdom has become chaotic with a troll vs dwarf war likely to explode at any time, and the new monarch serves as the Night Watch commander, and once under Sam Vimes whose ancestor killed the last monarch of the realm. Equal parts of humor and suspense will keep the readers reading and laughing through the book.Why It Made the List The series of 40-some Discworld books is widely popular and has been for nearly 25 years. There are spin-offs, short story collections and the like. The author was knighted in 2009 and passed away in 2015. His creations live on.'Read It If You Like'Fantasy, Swashbuckling, Humor

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Douglas Adams

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

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The Victorian elements and humor are reminiscent of the Elizabeth Peters mysteries.

The book is set in an alternate universe where Richard the Lion-Hearted did not die in 1199. Instead he went on to procreate and his heirs rule a combined Anglo-French empire. In this world, Lord Darcy and his Watson, Forensic Sorcerer Sean O Lochlainn, solve crimes as the official investigators of Richard of Normandy. In this book, the pair visit the convention of healers and sorcerers in London, and when one of the conventioneers is the victim in a locked room murder, Sean is accused of the crime and is thrown in the Tower of London, of course. Darcy manages to get his sidekick out as bodies pile up, and the pair have to come up with a solution to a tricky murder.Why It Made the List The thought that went into creating this world is phenomenal. There's no Reformation or Martin Luther because of the change of events, and other marked changes to society are noticed because of the prolonged life of Richard. Definitely worth checking out for the strong mystery elements with an impossible crime. Well done locked room murders are to be savored.'Read It If You Like'British mysteries, impossible crimes

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John Dickson Carr for both the locked rooms and the historical novels

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

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Ross Macdonald for the private eyes, Jim Butcher for the magical world

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

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This is a one of a kind series, so not much else like it exists. Cameron does write a non-paranormal archaeology series as well though.

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

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Randall Garrett

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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JK Rowlings

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

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Jasper Fforde

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

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Mary Janice Davidson

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

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Donald Westlake if you like capers where stones are stolen

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

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Marcia Muller for female private eyes

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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Simon Green

Martha Wells is best known for her Books of Raksura series, but this nebula nominated book is one of her best by far. Despite its publication in the late nineties, Wells' writing has a classic feel to it, and not least because of the Victorian-esque setting. It has elements of old detective novels, though admittedly it's a lot darker.The story follows Nicholas Valiarde, adopted son of a necromancy-convicted noble. On the outside he's your typical noble, but his second life is as the master thief Donatien. Needlessly to say, he's not happy about his father's fate, not least because it was a setup. Angered, Valiarde seeks revenge while staying one step ahead of a legendary detective.Wells' story is augmented with incredible attention to detail, which extends to the characters. Traits and back stories are revealed naturally, and romance isn't overdone. It also throws in magic, necromancy, and Fey to create a suspense-filled tale that doesn't hold back on gore.Read if you like: Sherlock Holmes, Victorian settings, revenge stories.

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Sherlock Holmes for the Victorian era and the master criminals

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

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Ginn Hale, Simon Green

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

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Charlaine Harris' other series, including Aurora Teagarden and Sookie Stackhouse

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

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It's a quirky short novel, and I'm not sure there are others like it out there. Check out Macavoy's other works.