Early Autumn is one of my favorites. Three or four years ago I spent part of the summer reading all of the Spenser novels in chronological order. It was wonderful. As I was re-reading this I had all these wonderful ideas about what I was going to post here. They were very insightful and it very likely would have changed your life to read them. Sadly, this was way back the last week of July and I now can remember none of these ideas. So I will just give you my two negative thoughts about the Spenser books:
1. I hate the way Spenser admires Susan's bird-like appetite. Please, she probably binge-eats the minute she gets out of his sight.
2. I think Susan is kind of a whiner early in the series. She gets better.
I love everything else about them. There is a fantastic website by a man with a lot of time on his hands that cites all the allusions in the books. And I am a big enough Spenser geek that I have submitted a few. My favorites in the series are Potshot and Ceremony.
Some librarians (and English teachers and publishers and other reading-types) look down on genre fiction, by which they mean mystery, romance, science fiction and other topics that can be easily categorized. This strikes me as quite unfair because often people get so sucked down a rabbit hole of trying to define types that they just forget to just enjoy reading. Within the mystery genre there are many enjoyable books (and series). Here are a few of my favorites.
The Beekeepers Apprentice by Laurie R. King. The protagonist is Mary Russell an impoverished young girl genius who befriends an aging Sherlock Holmes.
The Thomas and Charlotte Pitt series by Anne Perry. Beginning with The Cater Street Hangman and continuing for 24 more books, these are a detail-rich Victorian mystery series.
Maisie Dobbs by Jacqueline Winspear. A former ladies maid turned detective solves mysteries that generally have to deal with World War One.
Lest you think that I only read about English girl detectives:
The Kinsey Milhone Mysteries by Sue Grafton. Starting with A is for Alibi and going all the way to S is for Silence - these books follow the adventures of a P.I. with a horribly pathetic social life and a real gift for getting to the bottom of things.
I also like Agatha Christie, Janet Evanovich, Martha Grimes, Nancy Drew, The Happy Hollisters and Beverly's own Dana Cameron. And if you absolutely must watch television - my new favorite detective is Veronica Mars. But don't tell anyone I am recommending television - even though the show's creator is Rob Thomas - author of Rats Saw God - a great young adult novel. Feel free to come get it at the library!