Monday, March 10, 2014

Crimes of the Past

Charlie Harris from the best-selling "Cat in the Stacks" series by Miranda James

Last week, during one of my volunteer stints at the reference desk at Athena Public Library, a woman came to the desk and asked for recommendations. She was looking for historical mysteries, and since I love reading historical mysteries, I had no trouble talking to her about them. She wanted to know what my most favorite historical mysteries are, and I gave her a list. Others have since asked to see the list, so here it is. The books are in no particular order, except for number one, basically as they came to mind.

  1. Crocodile on the Sandbank by Elizabeth Peters -- the first Amelia Peabody novel
  2. A Morbid Taste for Bones by Ellis Peters -- the first Brother Cadfael novel
  3. The Face of a Stranger by Anne Perry -- the first William Monk/Hester Latterly novel
  4. Catilina's Riddle by Steven Saylor -- the third Gordianus the Finder novel
  5. Dissolution by C. J. Sansom -- the first Matthew Shardlake novel
  6. Cursed in the Blood by Sharan Newman -- the fifth Catherine le Vendeur novel
  7. Maisie Dobbs by Jacqueline Winsper -- the first Maisie Dobbs novel
  8. The Murder Stone by Charles Todd -- a standalone
  9. Alexandria by Lindsey Davis -- the nineteenth Marcus Didius Falco novel
  10. The Return of Captain John Emmett by Elizabeth Speller -- the first Laurence Bartram novel
  11. A Mortal Bane by Roberta Gellis -- the first Magdalene la Batarde novel
  12. Her Royal Spyness by Rhys Bowen -- the first Lady Georgie novel
  13. Remedy for Treason by Caroline Roe -- the first Isaac of Girona novel
  14. A Famine of Horses by P.F. Chisholm -- the first Sir Robert Carey novel
  15. Hearts and Bones by Margaret Lawrence -- the first Hannah Trevor novel
  16. The Anatomist's Wife by Anna Lee Huber -- the first Lady Darby novel
  17. India Black by Carol K. Carr -- the first India Black novel
  18. O Jerusalem by Laurie R. King -- the fifth Mary Russell novel
  19. Silent in the Grave by Deanna Raybourn -- the first Lady Julia Grey novel
  20. The Vanished Child by Sarah Smith -- the first Alexander von Reisden novel
I could have given her more, but I thought twenty was a fair start. One of the joys of being a librarian is being able to share the books you love with readers who are looking for good books. I dare say that the woman to whom I give the list might not like every book or author on it, but she ought to a lot of excellent reading here.

What are your favorite historical mysteries?


  1. I have to give a shout out to Rhys Bowen's other historical series, the Molly Murphy series (starting with Murphy's Law). Both of her historical series are great.

  2. Great list, Charlie! I'd suggest a couple other heavy hitters, too: The Dante Club by Matthew Pearl and, of course, The Alienist, by Caleb Carr. (I've also heard of some historicals about the Algonquin Round Table in the Roaring 20s...But I sound out of tune when I toot my own horn.)

  3. Dorothy, I thought The Alienist was pretty good, though it was drowning in historical detail that wasn't always necessary. Haven't read The Dante Club.

  4. Mark, I have read some of the Molly Murphy books, and they are very good. I just get such a kick out of Lady Georgie!

  5. Wonderful list. May I suggest the Feudal Japan Mysteries written by Laura Joh Rowland and the Tudor England mysteries by Nancy Bilyeau?

  6. Catriona McPherson's Dandy Gilver series is so great and smart. I'm addicted.

  7. On the lighter side, I like Joanna Campbell Slan's books.

  8. Lori, I agree on the Dandy Gilver books. Terrie, I also agree on Laura Rowland's books. Tried the first Nancy Bilyeau and just couldn't get into it, I'm afraid.