RSS Feed Print
What are your favorite historical mysteries?
Posted: Tuesday, March 8, 2011 12:43 AM
Joined: 3/3/2011
Posts: 15

I felt bad for Mystery, not getting any discussions. (Thrillers too, but I'm not a huge thriller reader so I'll leave that for someone else.) I pulled historical mysteries out of the hat because that's the sub-category that will always make me at least take a look. Maisie Dobbs is a new favorite, but I also like Carola Dunn, who did the same period (England just after WWI) but in a more lighthearted way. I'm tired tonight, and my memory seems to be shot, so I'm going to have go research author names for other faves. A series I loved that I want to read more of is one combining Viennese psychiatrist in the early Freud days with a Viennese policeman. The two guys are friends outside work because they get together to sing Schubert lieder. I love it!

Rhonda Lane
Posted: Tuesday, March 8, 2011 10:40 PM
Joined: 3/7/2011
Posts: 4

I enjoyed Caleb Carr's THE ALIENIST, as well as its supposedly lesser sequel ANGEL OF DARKNESS. Granted, those might be more thrillers than historical mysteries.
Colleen Lindsay
Posted: Wednesday, March 9, 2011 3:41 AM
Joined: 2/27/2011
Posts: 356

Oh, I loved The Name of the Rose by Umberto Eco, and also really enjoyed the Caleb Carrs. I actually reviewed both Caleb Carr books for the San Francisco Chronicle many years ago.
Posted: Thursday, March 10, 2011 3:40 PM
Joined: 3/3/2011
Posts: 15

The Alienist was great, although I didn't ever really get into the sequel. I was a bit put off by the idea of The Name of the Rose being "literachoor." Is it really actually accessible, Colleen?

Somebody who I don't think of as a mystery writer but does actually have a detective plot (and reminds me strongly of Caleb Carr) is David Liss. Anyone else read these? I liked The Coffee Trader especially, although another one that I am blanking on the title of got more attention (and has more mystery).
Posted: Saturday, March 12, 2011 1:31 AM
Joined: 3/11/2011
Posts: 157

Oh, there are so many. I have to read every Elizabeth Peters that comes out. Though if you haven't read them before, you have to start at the beginning to learn the whole cast of characters.

Laurie R. King is my fav for Sherlock Holmes mysteries. Her take on Holmes is unique.

Oh, and Ellis Peters is no longer with us, but if you want medieval mysteries, read her Cadfael series.
Posted: Tuesday, March 15, 2011 2:55 PM
Joined: 2/27/2011
Posts: 15

Hnn other than Hercule Poirot the only other non-contemporary mysteries I've read are the Letitia Talbot books by Barbara Beverly and the "Her Royal Spyness" books by Rhys Bowen. Oh and the YA series by YS Lee (I forget what its name however).

Posted: Tuesday, March 15, 2011 3:41 PM
Joined: 3/11/2011
Posts: 157

Hmm, LexieGirl brings up an interesting point -- what qualifies a book as historical. I know some publishers have breakdowns for the time periods for books. At least the romance publishers do. Hercule Poirot wasn't written to be historical, but readers these days will certainly feel like Murder on the Orient Express has historical elements. Dame Christie's books don't seem to be endanger of being considered "dated." But would we consider historical?
Alexander Hollins
Posted: Tuesday, March 15, 2011 6:48 PM
Joined: 3/13/2011
Posts: 416

To me, a mystery would be an historical mystery if it was written about a period that was historical when it was written. So no, Christie would not be considered historical mystery, to me. Just awesome.
Posted: Tuesday, March 15, 2011 10:23 PM
Joined: 3/15/2011
Posts: 10

I lost track of Elizabeth Peters' Amelia Peabody series a long time ago (when Ramses was still little) but I loved them. I read the first few Anne Perry Monk books, but didn't keep up with those. I never really got into her Pitt books.

Read all the original Holmes books and quite a few more modern Holmes one. I'm totally blanking on titles but favorites were by Loren Estleman and Michael Dibdin and I do remember Seven Percent Solution by Nicholas Meyer.
Posted: Wednesday, March 16, 2011 2:54 AM
Joined: 3/11/2011
Posts: 157

Anne Perry lost me when the history lesson started overtaking the mystery. There's one of the Pitt books where the characters journey to the American South during the Civil War. Down here we have people who recreate the civil war for fun so the history in the book felt a bit like overkill. Never did finish it. But Amelia and the gang I manage to keep up with even if it's more like visiting with the crazy but interesting relatives these days.

Oh, Laura Joh Rowland is another favorite. Here's are set in Japan during the samurai era. And Barbara Hambly for historical New Orleans with her Benjamin January series that starts with "A Free Man of Color."
Posted: Wednesday, March 16, 2011 12:09 PM
Joined: 3/14/2011
Posts: 7

I love Elizabeth Peters, but only her Amelia Peabody series. The others just haven't appealed to me. And I started Amelia, not at the beginning, but with The Last Camel Died at Noon, which I devoured while on vacation at the shore. I loved the humor, the strong characters, and those interesting turns of phrase that Peabody is prone to.

Can't forget Georgette Heyer, who wrote across a few genres, including historical fiction. Great characters, dialogue and plotting, adding up to a great read.
Posted: Wednesday, March 23, 2011 7:52 PM
Joined: 3/15/2011
Posts: 2

Like Colleen, I found The Name of the Rose a good read. It wasn't too high-falutin' to obscure a rollicking good yarn. As I recall, the pace held up well, and the motivations were clear from scene to scene. There was always something to grip you in the page at hand.

Along with Ellis Peters, I'd recommend Lindsey Davis' Falco series. It's set in ancient Rome, and the main character has a nice story arc through the books. It's wry and somewhat satirical, but the plots are good and the sense of time and place remains strong.
Posted: Wednesday, March 23, 2011 8:35 PM
Joined: 3/16/2011
Posts: 27

Having only recently discovered how much I enjoy historical mystery, I don't have any names of favorite authors to share yet. Just thought I'd say hi and let y'all know that I'm shamelessly writing down the authors you've mentioned : ) Thanks for all the great suggestions!
Posted: Thursday, March 31, 2011 7:26 PM
Joined: 3/29/2011
Posts: 20

Elizabeth Peters' Amelia Peabody series is an all-time favorite of mine, and I'm also quite fond of Sharon Kay Penman's historical mysteries, such as The Queen's Man.
Philip Tucker
Posted: Thursday, May 5, 2011 9:32 PM
Joined: 4/26/2011
Posts: 77

re: Name of the Rose

See the movie! It conveys the eerie medieval mindset.
Trailer Bride
Posted: Tuesday, May 10, 2011 10:54 PM
Joined: 5/8/2011
Posts: 31

Rennie Airth's three books about detective John Madden are very good. They span the period from the "Great" War to the end of the Second World War.

Highly recommended.
Ian Simpson
Posted: Wednesday, June 1, 2011 9:56 AM
Joined: 4/27/2011
Posts: 6

Lord Edward Corinth and his side-kick, Verity Brown, are David Roberts' characters. They solve murders during the 1930s. The books are well-written and historically accurate. Ideal if you want to give noir a rest.
Urooj Humayun
Posted: Wednesday, June 15, 2011 9:13 AM
Joined: 6/15/2011
Posts: 3

I would like to read Cleopatra Being an Account of the Fall and Vengeance of Harmachis is a novel written by the author H. Rider Haggard, the author of King Solomon's Mines and She.

It is difficult to keep tracks on legendary books especially when I cannot find anything accept for Wiki Pedia....

Dave McClure
Posted: Thursday, November 17, 2011 8:20 PM
Joined: 11/17/2011
Posts: 21

I like historical fiction, but the research required to keep it real can be exhaustive.  Writing something on the level of "The Name of the Rose" would keep me in research for years and years, just to make sure the mustard recipes are accurate for the time.  And I do so dislike books where the author tries to fake it.  My books revolve around historical facts, but the mystery itself is current.  Kind of the way that Nevada Barr did with "Flashback."  Or some of the Clive Cussler books.  Darn!  Forgot to put both on my list of fav authors...
Posted: Tuesday, January 10, 2012 8:37 AM
Joined: 7/18/2011
Posts: 25

I haven't read that much historical fiction, but I really wish that someone would take a Bestselling stab at the Roanoke Colony disappearances. I remember reading the one paragraph description in history class and thinking ooh I want more...
Colleen Lindsay
Posted: Wednesday, June 20, 2012 9:43 AM
Joined: 2/27/2011
Posts: 356

Bumping up for new members to see.

Lucy Silag
Posted: Monday, September 23, 2013 1:51 PM
Joined: 6/7/2013
Posts: 1359

Hi, @Eliza--I am reading MAISIE DOBBS right now, and I love it!!


I'll check out Carola Dunn, too!


In fact, I will add all of these to our mystery pinboard . . . which also features Benedict Cumberbatch in a Hawaiian grass skirt.


Thanks for recs, guys!



Book Country Community and Engagement Manager

Nevena Georgieva
Posted: Thursday, September 26, 2013 10:48 AM
Joined: 2/9/2012
Posts: 438

The best historical mystery I've read recently is DOKTOR GLASS by Thomas Brennan. It's set in Victorian England and has a supernatural twist that is super intriguing. Let me just say that it features the industrial marvel The Transatlantic Span, a bridge that connects Liverpool and New York... Cool, right?



BC Coordinator

Posted: Tuesday, November 10, 2015 11:49 AM
Joined: 8/29/2015
Posts: 16

Elizabeth Peters is an all-time favourite of mine. I also like Carolla Dun. A series that is new to me, although not new since there are 20 mysteries in the series, is the Miss Fisher books by Kerry Greenwood. They are set in the late 1920's.

Jump to different Forum...