Rachel McLean

– Thrillers That Make You Think

Rachel McLean Crime Books: Reading Order

All of my crime books are linked, so you’ll find characters who appear in multiple series.

Each series is designed for the books within it to be read in order. You can read the series themselves in any order you want, but you might want to read them in the order in which they take place.

Detective Zoe Finch Series

The big question in this series is: when do you read the prequel novella? I recommend reading it after Deadly Wishes, meaning you get to know Zoe and her colleagues first. This is the order in which I wrote the books. (It doesn’t matter too much though, if you want to read Deadly Origins first or at any point in the series, it won’t spoil the other books.)

Note: Lesley appears a lot in these books and you learn in detail about the events that led to her being sent to Dorset. If you’ve already read the Dorset Crime books it won’t spoil those, but will give you some background.

Here’s my recommended reading order:

  1. Book 1, Deadly Wishes
  2. Free prequel novella, Deadly Origins
  3. Book 2, Deadly Choices
  4. Book 3, Deadly Desires
  5. Book 4, Deadly Terror
  6. Book 5, Deadly Reprisal
  7. Book 6, Deadly Fallout
  8. Book 7, Deadly Christmas

Dorset Crime Series

The Dorset Crime series takes place after the first six Zoe Finch books, when DCI Lesley Clarke is transferred to Dorset. You can read this series before the Zoe Finch series if you want. I’ve made sure there are no major spoilers in the series.

The prequel novella, The Ballard Down Murder, takes place before these books begin. It focuses on DS Dennis Frampton and Lesley doesn’t appear until late in the book. You can read this at any point while reading the rest of the series – you don’t have to read it first.

Note: Zoe appears in these books as part of a storyline that’s separate from the main series storyline in the Zoe Finch books. So if you read these first, it won’t spoil those books.

  1. Free prequel novella, The Ballard Down Murder (exclusive to my book club on my website)
  2. Book 1, The Corfe Castle Murders
  3. Book 2, The Clifftop Murders
  4. Book 3, The Island Murders
  5. The charity novella The Riverside Murder (a shorter book written to support Ukraine, you don’t need to read this to follow the series but this is where it fits)
  6. Book 4, The Monument Murders
  7. Book 5, The Millionaire Murders
  8. Book 6, The Fossil Beach Murders
  9. Book 7, The Blue Pool Murders (out in February 2023)
  10. The novella The Lochside Murder (you don’t have to read this to follow the series but this is where it fits)
  11. Book 8, The Lighthouse Murders
  12. Book 9, The Ghost Village Murders – the final instalment in which the mystery of DCI Mackie’s death is solved.

McBride & Tanner Series

The McBride & Tanner series is a spin-off featuring Dr Petra McBride, who appears in both the Zoe Finch and Dorset Crime books. It also brings back DS Mo Uddin, who was Zoe’s sidekick in the Zoe Finch books, and introduces a new character, DI Jade Tanner.

The books take place around Loch Lomond and Glasgow and the first instalment will be released in the summer of 2022.

Note: It’s best to read these after the Dorset and Zoe books, especially the Zoe books because of Mo moving to Scotland. But, as always, I’m writing them in a way that means there are no major spoilers if you do read this series first.

  1. Book 1, Blood and Money
  2. The Dorset Crime novella The Lochside Murder (brings the two teams together and isn’t necessary to follow the series but this is where it fits chronologically)
  3. Book 2, Death and Poetry
  4. Book 3, Power and Treachery, out in 2024
  5. …and more to be announced…

Cumbria Crime Series

DI Zoe Finch moves to Cumbria and finds herself heading up a new team, with new villains and new challenges. Carl has moved with her (and Yoda the cat) – will Zoe find herself getting embroiled in a Professional Standards case?

I recommend reading the DI Zoe Finch books in Birmingham (up to Book 6) before starting this series.

  1. Book 1, The Harbour, out in September 2023
  2. Book 2, The Mine, out in 2024
  3. …and more to be announced…

London Cosy Crime Series

Featuring amateur sleuth Diana Bakewell, her sidekick Zaf Williams (from the Zoe Finch series) and Gus the cat. Diana is a tour guide who repeatedly finds herself in the middle of murder cases. Can Diana solve the cases the police can’t? (Of course she can, it’s a cosy mystery.)

  1. Book 1, set in Westminster, title tbc, out in Autumn 2023
  2. Book 2, set in the West End’s theatreland, title tbc, out in Autumn 2023
  3. Book 3, set on Tower Bridge, title tbc, out in Autumn 2023
  4. …and more to be announced…

Freya Garside Mystery Series

Freya Garside is an octogenarian busybody living in Kings Heath, Birmingham. She finds herself at the heart of unsolved mysteries and her natural interest in people (or rather, her nosiness) helps her to solve them.

This series will also feature DC Connie Williams from the Zoe Finch books and her partner Rav, who move in down the road from Freya. Freya can’t resist haranguing poor Connie for information about local crimes.

  1. Deadly Christmas – not part of the Freya series (it’s a Zoe book) but this is where she first appears.
  2. Murder in the Bookshop – a charity story written for the Little Shop of Murders anthology. This comes before the series itself but you don’t have to read it to know what’s going on. It raises money for children’s charities.
  3. Book 1 – Murder in the Park – to come in late 2024
  4. …and more to come in 2024 and 2025…

And when you’ve finished them all…

If you want to read more of my books, there are two series and one standalone novel to choose from. These aren’t crime books.

The Village series is a post-apocalyptic psychological thriller trilogy focusing on a family whose past catches up with them. If you liked Survivors or Lost you’ll enjoy these.

The Division Bell trilogy consists of three political thrillers taking place in an imagined dystopian near future. If you liked House of Cards or Bodyguard you’ll enjoy these.

Unborn is a standalone dystopia combined with a legal thriller, taking place in an imagined near future USA. If you liked The Handmaid’s Tale this might be your cup of tea.

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12 responses to “Rachel McLean Crime Books: Reading Order”

  1. Theresa Scott says:

    Hi ,I’ve read all Zoe’s books ,fantastic! Now starting on Lesley’s stories

  2. John Dillon says:

    Tbankyou for the timeline. I found Corfe Castle on amazon kindle and have just finished the clifftop murders breathless more coffee and dash to work

  3. Lorna says:

    My friend told me about your books. Really enjoyed the Zoe books and just finished the third Lesley story. Like that Zoe has turned up in Dorset. Wonder if Lesley will stay in Dorset ??!!

  4. URL says:

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  5. Sarah says:

    I have been listening to the Dorset murder series 1-3 on audible. Back to back! I know the area and enjoy the setting. Will the other books be available on audio ?

    • Rachel McLean says:

      They will – book 4 should be out in a few weeks, and the rest will come as soon as we can record them.

  6. yvonne52 says:

    I am reading all of your Dorset murder books with Leslie. They are absolutely fantastic and thrilling. All the twists and turns make sense. All the details are correct. Amazing. Thank you for those books.

  7. Lyn Jones says:

    Hi Rachel I have been reading the Dorset Murders, Corfe Castle, Clifftop and just finished Monument Murders, at the end of the book it says to find out what happened to McKie click on the link, but that is not on Amazon, I am now on your site and each time I click on Monument Murders to find the link it takes me back to Amazon. Can you help please?

  8. gyoungphd says:

    Your writing blows me away! I just finished the second Dorset novel and left a five-star review on Amazon and Goodreads. I have really high standards ( professional writer, editor, and college instructor for decades), and you’ve met or surpassed them. Thank you!

  9. Lauren says:

    Read all the Zoe finch well listened to (audible) and starting on my first Lesley book love them keep them coming Rachel

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