The Best Murder Mysteries and Crime Dramas to Binge Right Now

Television

Many of us have turned to new hobbies during the coronavirus pandemic, which has kept us indoors and away from people. For example, I have binge-watched and studied loads of murder mysteries and crime dramas and become an amateur detective right from my couch. I wouldn’t say that I am as competent as Hercule Poirot, but I feel really good about my ability to suss out the culprit in Rian Johnson‘s follow-up to Knives Out (for the record, I knew who did it there, too).

So, if you, like me, are looking to hone your detective skills while staying home and social distancing, I suggest checking out some of the great murder mysteries and crime dramas on the list below. There are a number of exciting options on several different streaming services, so dig in and see if you can figure things out before the men and women at the center of the shows do.

Ben Mendelsohn and Cynthia Erivo, <em>The Outsider</em> Ben Mendelsohn and Cynthia Erivo, The Outsider

The Outsider

Watch it on: HBO Go and HBO Now
The Outsider‘s first season just ended (it might become an anthology series), and the HBO adaptation of Stephen King‘s chilling murder mystery is worth checking out. Emmy winner Ben Mendelsohn stars as a detective investigating the gruesome murder of a young boy, and although all the evidence points to an upstanding family man (https://www.tvguide.com/celebrities/ben-mendelsohn/141508/Jason Bateman), there’s more evidence that places him miles and miles away at the time of the murder. Over time it becomes clear there’s something supernatural going on, and as the show morphs from a traditional murder mystery into a paranormal investigation, you won’t be able to look away, even if you want to.

<em>Frankie Drake Mysteries</em> Frankie Drake Mysteries

Frankie Drake Mysteries

Watch it on: PBS Masterpiece (available as a channel on Amazon Channels); Ovation with a cable login
Currently airing its third season Saturdays at 7/6c on Ovation and set in 1920s Toronto, Frankie Drake Mysteries follows the city’s only female private eyes, the eponymous Frankie Drake (Lauren Lee Smith) and her partner Trudy (Chantel Riley), as they solve cases the police won’t take on as well as cases their clients can’t take to the authorities. And while the on-screen narrative deals with aspects of social change, the show itself is doubling down on it in the real world; of the 31 episodes produced thus far, 18 were directed by women, while 20 were written or co-written by women. If you’ve already binge-watched Miss Fisher’s Murder Mysteries (also on this list), make Frankie Drake Mysteries your next stop.

<em>Trapped</em> Trapped

Trapped

Watch it on: Amazon Prime
The Icelandic murder mystery series Trapped stands out for the way it uses its location to its increase the tension that normally accompanies a good crime drama. In Season 1, Andri (Olafur Darri Olafsson), a detective whose job has taken its toll on his family, investigates a case involving a headless corpse that has turned up in the local port. An avalanche soon increases the dramatic stakes and leaves the remote town and its citizens vulnerable and isolated while the police attempt to solve the case before the snow melts and they can escape. Season 2 involves a far-right nationalist group, a power plant’s expansion, and a family with so many secrets the twists and turns never seem to stop coming. There are a lot of excellent dramas to come out of the Nordic region, but Trapped is definitely one of the best.

<em>Happy Valley</em> Happy Valley

Happy Valley

Watch it on: Netflix
As cheery as the title of this BBC One series sounds, Happy Valley is actually very dark and contains some very difficult subject matter. The series centers on a female detective named Catherine Cawood (Sarah Lancashire), whose world is turned upside-down after the man who sexually assaulted her daughter — which led to the girl birthing an unwanted child and deciding to end her life — is freed from prison. In the process of tracking the assailant down, Cawood accidentally stumbles into a completely unrelated, but ongoing crime. – Amanda Bell

Titus Welliver, <em>Bosch</em> Titus Welliver, Bosch

Bosch

Watch it on: Amazon Prime
An adaptation of Michael Connelly’s Harry Bosch novels, Amazon’s Bosch follows the gritty life of Los Angeles homicide detective and private investigator Harry Bosch (Titus Welliver). Although the show rarely receives a lot of fanfare, it’s quite popular, and for good reason: It has been lauded for its realistic portrayal of police work, as well as its faithful interpretation of Connelly’s best-selling books. Plus, it has a sweet jazz soundtrack.

Benedict Cumberbatch, <em>Sherlock</em> Benedict Cumberbatch, Sherlock

Sherlock

Watch it on: Netflix
Sir Arthur Conan Doyle‘s signature characters come alive anew in Sherlock, a bromantic series about its eponymous detective, the “high functioning sociopath” Sherlock Holmes (Benedict Cumberbatch), and his war veteran sidekick, John Watson (Martin Freeman). The four-season series was a fan-frenzied affair during its run on the BBC and PBS thanks to its sublime stars, behind-the-scenes talent, and production quality, all of which led to some serious awards decoration for everyone involved. – Amanda Bell

<em>Miss Fisher and the Crypt of Tears</em> Miss Fisher and the Crypt of Tears

Miss Fisher’s Murder Mysteries

Watch it on: Acorn TV
The three-season Australian series Miss Fisher’s Murder Mysteries whisks you back to the 1920s and all the glitz and glamour the decade had to offer. Essie Davis stars as the Honourable Miss Phryne Fisher, who has a knack for solving intricate and inventive murders (a spider in a shoe!), much to the displeasure of the local police, especially Detective Inspector Jack Robinson (Nathan Page). However, the two eventually form a working relationship, and later even a friendship oozing with sexual tension. A feature film, Miss Fisher and the Crypt of Tears, arrived on Acorn TV on March 23.

Shaun Evans, <em>Endeavour</em> Shaun Evans, Endeavour

Endeavour

Watch it on: Amazon Prime
An engrossing prequel to the beloved British series Inspector Morse, Endeavour stars Shaun Evans as the young Endeavour Morse as he solves murders in 1960s Oxford. Most seasons (there have been six so far) feature four episodes, which clock in at approximately an hour and a half each, so the show is not exactly a quick binge. But who watches murder mysteries with the intention of plowing through them as quickly as possible? As the series progresses, there are storylines that carry over, much like any other procedural might, so be sure to pay attention.

David Tennant, Olivia Colman, <em>Broadchurch</em> David Tennant, Olivia Colman, Broadchurch

Broadchurch

Watch it on: Netflix
Set in a sleepy little seaside town, Broadchurch‘s first season follows two detectives — Alec Hardy (David Tennant) and Ellie Miller (Olivia Colman) — on the hunt for the killer of an 11-year-old boy, and, sadly, the suspects list slowly inches into deeply uncomfortable territory. The show continued to enjoy acclaim in its second and third seasons, which, while venturing on to some new directions, kept the devastating case that defined its inception in the mix. – Amanda Bell

Ashley Jensen, <em>Agatha Raisin</em> Ashley Jensen, Agatha Raisin

Agatha Raisin

Watch it on: Acorn TV
Agatha Raisin is the detective series for those who enjoy their mysteries with wacky humor and hijinks. Based on the series of novels by M.C. Beaton, Agatha Raisin stars Ashley Jensen as the titular fictional detective who has packed up and moved to the Cotswolds to live a slower, quieter life but soon discovers she has a talent for detective-ing after investigating a single crime. And that’s a good thing because there are a lot of murders that seem to happen in Agatha’s vicinity. Along with her new village friends and her former assistant, Agatha solves said murders, and looks quite fashionable while doing it.

<em>Bordertown</em> Bordertown

Bordertown

Watch it on: Netflix
If you like moody crime dramas from Scandinavia, you should check out Bordertownknown as Sorjonen in Finland. The series, which recently dropped its third and final season, follows Kari Sorjonen (Ville Virtanen), a skilled detective with a photographic memory and a frightening understanding of the killers he chases. After his wife survives brain cancer, he leaves his job at the National Bureau of Investigation to relocate with his family to an idyllic town near the Russian border for a more peaceful life. Since this is a police drama that falls squarely within the popular Nordic noir genre, it should go without saying that Sorjonen doesn’t find a quiet life leading the town’s Serious Crime Unit.

Robson Green and James Norton, <em>Grantchester</em> Robson Green and James Norton, Grantchester

Grantchester

Watch it on: Amazon Prime
Based on James Runcie’s The Grantchester Mysteries, Grantchester sees an incredibly handsome, jazz-loving vicar, Sidney Chambers (James Norton), team up with a local detective, Detective Inspector Geordie Keating (Robson Green), to solve crimes in the a small village in the 1950s. Between its immersive storyline and keen character drama aspects, the show makes for an easy binge session. And although Norton departed the show in Season 4, there’s still plenty reason to watch, including the man who took his place: Tom Brittney, who plays Reverend Will Davenport.

Idris Elba in <em>Luther</em> Idris Elba in Luther

Luther

Watch it on: Amazon Prime
For those who stan Idris Elba, Luther is not to be missed. The actor has racked up quite a few trophies — including a Golden Globe — for his depiction of the titular DCI John Luther, who’s dedication to the Serious Crime Unit has cost him dearly on the personal front. Not only does it feature Elba hitting all the right drama marks, but it also gives The Affair‘s Ruth Wilson room to stretch her legs into even more twisted territory as a psychopathic murderer who becomes an unlikely asset. – Amanda Bell

Aidan Turner, <em>And Then There Were None</em> Aidan Turner, And Then There Were None

And Then There Were None

Watch it on: Acorn TV
Agatha Christie’s And Then There Were None has been adapted many times, and with good reason — it’s one of her best works, if not her best. And BBC One’s 2015 adaptation, which starred Charles Dance, Sam Neill, Aidan Turner, Miranda Richardson, Burn Gorman, and a whole lot of other people you will definitely recognize, is a real highlight. The three-part miniseries follows 10 strangers on a remote island in 1939 who are picked off one by one, and no one knows which one is the murderer or why it’s happening.

Sofia Helin and Thure Lindhardt, <em>The Bridge</em> Sofia Helin and Thure Lindhardt, The Bridge

The Bridge

Watch it on: Amazon Prime (to buy)
The Nordic noir series known as Broen/Bron, aka The Bridge, kicks off with the discovery of a dead body — or rather, two halves of two different bodies — in the center of a bridge that links Sweden and Denmark. If that sounds familiar, it’s because there have been a lot of remakes over the years, including an FX production also known as The Bridge that swapped in the U.S. and Mexico. The original series is better (sorry to America) and finds members of the Danish and Swedish police having to work together to investigate the crime. Like The Killing, it’s one of the Danish shows that has shaped TV around the world.

<em>Shetland</em> Shetland

Shetland

Watch it on: BritBox
Shetland is everything you could want from a good mystery series. Set on the Shetland Islands off the coast of Scotland, the isolated setting can be either quaint and picturesque or remote and claustrophobic depending on what the story requires. Since the series, which follows Douglas Henshall‘s Detective Inspector Jimmy Perez and a small police staff on the islands, deals in murder, it’s usually the latter. Engrossing right off the bat, it becomes even more so once the series transitions from episodic to serialized storytelling. However, if you’re worried about being overwhelmed by dreary doom and gloom, Shetland also dishes out some well-timed bits of humor, making for a well-balanced series you won’t want to stop watching,

Gillian Anderson, <em>The Fall</em> Gillian Anderson, The Fall

The Fall

Watch it on: Amazon Prime
For those X-Files fans who still haven’t gotten enough of Gillian Anderson doing detective things, congrats, The Fall is now at the top of your to-be-watched pile. The actress stars as Stella Gibson, an English detective superintendent trying to catch a serial killer (Jamie Dornan, whom you might know better from all his red room action in Fifty Shades of Grey) in Northern Ireland before he attacks even more women. – Amanda Bell

James Roday and Dule Hill, <em>Psych</em> James Roday and Dule Hill, Psych

Psych

Watch it on: Amazon Prime
If you like your mysteries to make you laugh, Psych is the procedural murder mystery for you. James Roday stars as Shawn Spencer, who pretends to be a psychic detective in order to aid the Santa Barbara Police Department in solving murders. He is helped by his best friend and sometimes unwilling sidekick, Burton Guster (Dule Hill). The show ran for eight seasons and has produced two movies (only one of which is currently out, though), so this will keep you busy for a while.

<em>Wallander</em> Wallander

Wallander

Watch it on: Hulu (Seasons 1, 3), Amazon Prime (Season 2)
Based on the bestselling crime novels by Henning Mankell, Wallander — the Swedish version, not the British version starring Kenneth Branagh — has real staying power. The series, which premiered in 2005 and stars Krister Henriksson as the titular detective, remains a compelling watch and one of the best examples of international crime drama to date. So if by some weird chance you haven’t watched the show’s three seasons, which each consist of feature-length episodes, now would be a good time to rectify that mistake.

Stop searching, start watching! TV Guide’s Watch This Now! page has even more TV recommendations.

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