Books for people who like historical mysteries


Top Ten Tuesday is a weekly meme I take part in when I can think up answers! It’s a great meme hosted by The Broke and the Bookish blog. Every week a new topic is presented. It’s not only fun to think about my list, but to read what other people come up with!

This week I’m talking about books for readers who like historical mysteries. These books make history as well as the mystery a primary focus of the stories.

Other top ten bloggers are talking about other types of books readers might like. I’m looking forward to reading what kinds of books they suggest.

What Angels Fear by C. S. Harris

  • Series: Sebastian St. Cyr #1
  • Setting: Regency England
  • Synopsis: It’s 1811, and the threat of revolution haunts the upper classes of King George III’s England. Then a beautiful young woman is found raped and savagely murdered on the altar steps of an ancient church near Westminster Abbey. A dueling pistol discovered at the scene and the damning testimony of a witness both point to one man, Sebastian St. Cyr, Viscount Devlin, a brilliant young nobleman shattered by his experience in the Napoleonic Wars.
  • What I liked about this book: I was surprised that after the French Revolution, British upper classes including the King were concerned about a revolution in England.

And Only to Deceive by Tasha Alexander

  • Series: Lady Emily #1
  • Setting: England, 1800’s
  • Synopsis: For Emily, the sudden proposal of Philip, Viscount Ashton, freed her from her overbearing mother, set on a grand match. When the new groom died on safari, she felt little grief. Two years later, his journals reveal surprises, a gentleman scholar and antiquities collector deeply in love with his wife. In his beloved quiet British Museum, she finds a dangerous secret while juggling two suitors, one whose intentions may go beyond marriage. Her search to solve the crime leads to more surprises about Philip, and questions about her role as a woman in Victorian society.
  • What I liked about this book: When Emily’s husband died she really didn’t know him very well. It was after his death she discovers his love for her. That was sad, but also made the book so interesting.

Silent in the Grave by Deanna Raybourn

  • Series: Lady Julia Grey #1
  • Setting: London, England, 1886
    These ominous words, slashed from the pages of a book of Psalms, are the last threat that the darling of London society, Sir Edward Grey, receives from his killer. Before he can show them to Nicholas Brisbane, the private inquiry agent he has retained for his protection, Sir Edward collapses and dies at his London home, in the presence of his wife, Julia, and a roomful of dinner guests.
    Prepared to accept that Edward’s death was due to a long-standing physical infirmity, Julia is outraged when Brisbane visits and suggests that Sir Edward has been murdered. It is a reaction she comes to regret when she discovers the damning paper for herself, and realizes the truth. Determined to bring her husband’s murderer to justice, Julia engages the enigmatic Brisbane to help her investigate Edward’s demise. Dismissing his warnings that the investigation will be difficult, if not impossible, Julia presses forward, following a trail of clues that lead her to even more unpleasant truths, and ever closer to a killer who waits expectantly for her arrival.
  • What I liked about this book: Julia doesn’t believe her husband was murdered at first. When she realizes he was she does everything she can to find out who did it.

Murphy’s Law by Rhys Bowen

  • Series: Molly Murphy #1
  • Setting: New York City, early 1900’s
  • Synopsis: Molly Murphy makes her own laws. When she commits murder in self-defence, she flees her cherished Ireland for anonymous New York. But a man is murdered on Ellis Island, last seen arguing with Molly. She seeks the killer on her own, pounds notorious streets of Hell’s Kitchen on New York’s Lower East Side, to clear her name, before her past comes back to haunt her future.
  • What I liked about this book: Reading about an Irish immigrant coming through Ellis Island and trying to live in NYC in the early 1900’s.

Murder on St. Mark’s Place by Victoria Thompson

  • Series: Gaslight Mystery #2
  • Setting: Early 1900’s New York City
  • Synopsis: As a midwife in the turn-of-the-century tenements of New York City, Sarah Brandt has seen suffering and joy, birth and death-and even murder. And the crime ridden streets of the teeming city offer little relief from either.Thinking she has been summoned by German immigrant Agnes Otto to usher a new life into the world, Sarah Brandt is greeted by the news of an untimely death instead. It seems that Agnes’s beautiful younger sister, Gerda, had fallen into the life of a “Charity Girl.” Caught up in the false glamour of the city’s nightlife, she would trade her company – and her favors – not for money, but for lavish gifts and an evenings’ entertainment. And now she was dead; victim, no doubt, of one of her “gentlemen friends.”No one cares much about the fate of girls like Gerda, but Sarah does. And she vows to find her killer. To do so, she turns to Sergeant Frank Malloy. As the two pursue an investigation that leads from the bright lights of Coney Island to the stately homes of Fifth Avenue, they find that their shared passion for justice may cost them dearly…
  • What I liked about this book: Reading about a midwife in the early 1900’s New York City was fascinating. This is a great series. I like this book and others because they show the different stratas of society.

A Test of Wills by Charles Todd

  •  Series: Inspector Ian Rutledge #1
  • Setting: 1919 England
  • Synopsis: In 1919, Scotland Yard Inspector Ian Rutledge remains haunted by World War I, where he was forced to have a soldier executed for refusing to fight. When Rutledge is assigned to investigate a murder involving the military, his emotional war wounds flare. It is a case that strikes dangerously close to home–one that will test Rutledge’s precarious grip on his own sanity.
  • What I liked about this book: I really like police procedurals and Inspector Rutledge is a good policeman, but suffering from post traumatic stress from his WWI war years.

Maisie Dobbs by Jacqueline Winspear

  •  Series: Maisie Dobbs #1
  • Setting: England, after WWI
  • Synopsis: Maisie Dobbs isn’t just any young housemaid. Through her own natural intelligence—and the patronage of her benevolent employers—she works her way into college at Cambridge. When World War I breaks out, Maisie goes to the front as a nurse. It is there that she learns that coincidences are meaningful and the truth elusive. After the War, Maisie sets up on her own as a private investigator. But her very first assignment, seemingly an ordinary infidelity case, soon reveals a much deeper, darker web of secrets, which will force Maisie to revisit the horrors of the Great War and the love she left behind.
  • What I liked about this book: This is another book which takes place after WWI. Maisie was a nurse at the front and her years there still haunt her and others around her.

 A Monstrous Regiment of Women by Laurie King

  • Series: Mary Russell & Sherlock Holmes #2
  • Setting: 1921, England
  • Synopsis: Mary Russell–Sherlock Holmes’s brilliant apprentice, now an Oxford graduate with a degree in theology–is on the verge of acquiring a sizable inheritance. Independent at last, with a passion for divinity and detective work, her most baffling mystery may now involve Holmes and the burgeoning of a deeper affection between herself and the retired detective. Russell’s attentions turn to the New Temple of God and its leader, Margery Childe, a charismatic suffragette and a mystic, whose draw on the young theology scholar is irresistible. But when four bluestockings from the Temple turn up dead shortly after changing their wills, could sins of a capital nature be afoot? Holmes and Russell investigate, as their partnership takes a surprising turn.
  • What I liked about this book: I love both Mary and Sherlock from these books. This is one of my favorites in the series. The New Temple of God is interesting, the way Sherlock and Mary work together, the way Sherlock helps and protects Mary.

Mr. Churchill’s Secretary by Susan Elia MacNeal

  • Series: Maggie Hope Mysteries #1
  • Setting: London, 1940
  • Synopsis: Winston Churchill has just been sworn in, war rages across the Channel, and the threat of a Blitz looms larger by the day. But none of this deters Maggie Hope. She graduated at the top of her college class and possesses all the skills of the finest minds in British intelligence, but her gender qualifies her only to be the newest typist at No. 10 Downing Street. Her indefatigable spirit and remarkable gifts for codebreaking, though, rival those of even the highest men in government, and Maggie finds that working for the prime minister affords her a level of clearance she could never have imagined—and opportunities she will not let pass. In troubled, deadly times, with air-raid sirens sending multitudes underground, access to the War Rooms also exposes Maggie to the machinations of a menacing faction determined to do whatever it takes to change the course of history. Ensnared in a web of spies, murder, and intrigue, Maggie must work quickly to balance her duty to King and Country with her chances for survival. And when she unravels a mystery that points toward her own family’s hidden secrets, she’ll discover that her quick wits are all that stand between an assassin’s murderous plan and Churchill himself.
  • What I liked about this book: It was fascinating to read about Winston Churchill’s typists, the way ordinary citizens reacted to the war, the air raids and bombings.

The Sweetness at the Bottom of the Pie by Alan Bradley

  •  Series: Flavia de Luce #1
  • Setting: England, 1950
  • Synopsis: It is the summer of 1950–and at the once-grand mansion of Buckshaw, young Flavia de Luce, an aspiring chemist with a passion for poison, is intrigued by a series of inexplicable events: A dead bird is found on the doorstep, a postage stamp bizarrely pinned to its beak. Then, hours later, Flavia finds a man lying in the cucumber patch and watches him as he takes his dying breath.For Flavia, who is both appalled and delighted, life begins in earnest when murder comes to Buckshaw. “I wish I could say I was afraid, but I wasn’t. Quite the contrary. This was by far the most interesting thing that had ever happened to me in my entire life.”
  • What I liked about this book: Flavia is a great character. Very intelligent and precocious, but also lonely.

Author: Jan

I love to read--especially mysteries, science fiction and fantasy. I also love blogging, photography, gardening, playing Mah Jonng, reading with a cat on my lap, throwing a ball for a dog, creating cards to send to family and friends, reading book blogs, using my computer.

11 thoughts on “Books for people who like historical mysteries”

  1. I love this theme! I’ve meaning to start reading the Flavia de Luce series for awhile now, but some of these others look great.


    1. I’ve liked all these series a lot though I’ve fallen behind in a few of them so need to start reading them again!


  2. Great topic and great choices! I love Laurie R. King and Deanna Raybourn and am about to start the audio of the Flavia de Luce series on audio. I’ve had a Victoria Thompson on my bookshelf for years and for some reason have never read it. Must fix that soon!


    1. Sorry to take so long to answer your comment, Katherine. It’s been a busy month…LOL. This was a fun topic. Helped me remember some of these series I need to catch up with!


  3. This is one of my favorite sub-genres as well and I think did a list like this on my blog at some point! I’ve read most of these and think your choices are great. I have been really wanting to try the Churchill’s Secretary books so glad to read an endorsement. Since you like the C.S. Harris books, I would recommend, if you haven’t already, Kate Ross’ Julian Kestrel series. It’s just 4 books, sadly, because the author dies young, but they are fantastic!


  4. I read the first couple in the Murphy’s Law series but then got distracted and wandered off. I may try again. I read one book by Raybourne and wasn’t impressed. I want to try the Charles Todd books and the C.S.Harris books. Thanks for all the info about each series, that really helps.


    1. I get distracted all the time, Bea. I forget about books and authors and series. I’ve started keeping a list so I can at least remember to check on books and authors. And it’s one reason I started my blog–so I would maybe remember…LOL.


      1. For me,it’s the blog and goodreads. They’re how I keep track of what I’ve read and want to read. Without them, I would have an almost impossible time keeping track.


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