Historical Mystery Series: A Baker's Dozen

Historical fiction can be a fun way to get a feel for a particular time period or place in history.  Here are thirteen historical mystery series for you to try!

Ancient Egypt (Reign of King Tutankhamen)
Lynda S. Robinson
Lord Meren series
Start with:  Murder in the Place of Anubis

The teenage Pharaoh, Tutankhamen, calls on his trusted investigator, Lord Meren when a killer desecrates the sacred Place of Anubis.  Unfortunately, the victim was universally hated and there is no shortage of suspects.  Lord Meren must use his cunning to uncover the killer before the king's authority is undermined--or the killer strikes again!

Roman Empire (Reign of Emperor Vespasian)The Silver Pigs
Lindsey Davis
Marius Didius Falco series
Start with:  The Silver Pigs

Marius Didius Falco, a Roman informer and imperial agent who acts as a sort-of fixer and mystery solver, travels to Roman Britain in this first novel in the long-running series.   
 

 

12th Century England/Wales (Civil War of 1139-1153)A Morbid Taste for Bones
Ellis Peters
The Brother Cadfael Mysteries
Start with:  A Morbid Taste for Bones

Brother Cadfael, a former crusader, lives a contented life as an herbalist and Benedictine monk at Shrewsbury Abbey in Western England.  His life is not quiet, however, owing to abbey politics, civil unrest, and an unnatural number of murders in the neighborhood.  Cadfael's combination of wisdom, faith, and a world-weary shrewdness makes him a formidable opponent to any murderer who crosses his path.

 

12th Century England (reign of Henry II)Mistress of the Art of Death
Ariana Franklin
Mistress of the Art of Death series
Start with: Mistress of the Art of Death

Adelia Aguilar, a female physician trained at the liberal School of Salerno, travels to an England that is much less forgiving of unconventional professions for women.  As an accomplished "mistress of the art of death", she has been sent by the King of Sicily to help his cousin Henry II solve a politically explosive series of murders.  Once in England, she must battle prejudice while outwitting a brutal killer.

 

Tudor England (Reign of Henry VIII)Dissolution
C.J. Sansom
Shardlake series
Start with:  Dissolution

When a royal commissioner is brutally murdered while carrying out his duty, lawyer Matthew Shardlake is assigned to investigate the case.  In the process of finding the murderer, Shardlake and his protégé uncover a complex mass of plots and political intrigue.

 

Regency EnglandBellfield Hall
Anna Dean
Miss Dido Kent Mysteries
Start with:  Bellfield Hall

Miss Dido Kent, a spinster lady of modest means, is accustomed to being shuttled between the homes of her married brothers, expected to be of use to her sisters-in-law.  When she is summoned by her niece to come immediately to Bellfield Hall--the home of the niece's fiancé-- to figure out why the young man has suddenly called off their engagement, she goes without question.  Soon she is embroiled in a baffling murder mystery that threatens her niece's happiness forever.   Anyone who enjoys Jane Austen will probably like this series.

Napoleonic Wars England (1810's)What Angels Fear
C.S. Harris
Sebastian St. Cyr series
Start with: What Angels Fear

Sebastian St. Cyr, Viscount Devlin, the youngest--and only surviving-- son of the Earl of Hendon, has recently returned to England after fighting Napoleon's army in France.  His war experiences haunt him, and he wants nothing more than to settle back into his old life.  Estrangement from his father, questions about his past, and a brutal murder disrupt his plans.  He must solve the crime before he is taken in as the murderer--or becomes another victim himself.

 

1830's ScotlandThe Anatomists Wife
Anna Lee Huber
Lady Darby Mysteries
Start with:  The Anatomist's Wife

Lady Kiera Darby's arranged marriage to a physician of some repute was supposed to offer her a comfortable, protected life.  When he dies suddenly, however, it is revealed that her much older husband had been forcing Kiera to use her artistic talents for a shocking purpose.  The resulting scandal ruins her reputation and threatens her very life.  Kiera is now trying to live a quiet existence in Scotland with her sister and brother-in-law, but murder intervenes, throwing her once again into danger and joining her in a wary partnership with inquiry agent Sebastian Gage. 

Pre-Civil War United States (1840's-60's)
Miriam Grace Monfredo
Seneca Falls Series
Start with:  Seneca Falls Inheritance

Glynis Tryon, librarian for the town of Seneca Falls and committed suffragette, has been asked by Elizabeth Cady Stanton to help organize an event.  Before she can fulfill her responsibilities, however, a dead body in the canal disrupts all of her plans.  She must use all of her ingenuity to solve the mystery.

Tsarist Russia The Winter Queen
Boris Akunin
Erast Fandorin series
Start with: The Winter Queen

When a young law student commits suicide in the middle of Moscow's Alexander Gardens, Erast Fandorin is assigned to find out the motive.  Boredom and decadence are suspected, but Fandorin begins to believe that there is more to it than just the malaise of a rich young man.  His investigation leads him to uncover a larger crime with overreaching implications.

 

Victorian England (1880's)Silent in the Grave
Deanna Raybourn
Lady Julia Gray/Nicholas Brisbane series
Start with: Silent in the Grave

Lady Julia Gray's quiet life is turned upside down when her husband dies suddenly right in front of her at a party they are giving in their London mansion.  To make matters worse, Nicholas Brisbane--a professional "inquiry agent", is on the scene and claims that her husband hired him to find out who had been threatening him.  Thus begins Julia's first foray into the shadowy world of detection inhabited by tall, dark, and mysterious Brisbane.  Rest assured, it won't be her last!

Post World War I England (1919, 1920's)
Charles Todd
Ian Rutledge series
Start with:  A Test of Wills

When Inspector Ian Rutledge returns to England and his job at Scotland Yard, he wants nothing more than to leave the horrors of the war behind.  Complicating this desire is the fact that Rutledge is suffering from "shell shock" (what we now call PTSD) and lives with a constant, persistent reminder of his time in France.  As he tries to keep his condition a secret from his superiors, he is drawn into a horrifying murder case that will test his skill and his sanity. 

1920's AustraliaCocaine Blues
Kerry Greenwood
Phryne Fisher Mysteries
Start with: Cocaine Blues 

The Honorable Phryne Fisher returns to her native Melbourne, Australia only to find an old family friend in dire need of help.  The clever and fashionable Phryne leaps into action to solve the mystery.  This is the first in Greenwood's 20 volume (and counting) series feature that courageous, beautiful, and unflappable flapper Phryne Fisher.

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