It’s hard for me to believe that once upon a time I did not like “historical mysteries”. Then I read Anne Perry’s books and I was launched on an entirely new reading experience. These are some, but not all, of my favorites.
Lindsey Davis –Marcos Falco in 1st century Rome proves that a private eye is a private eye no matter what time period he lives in. Marcos, who “works” for the Emperor Vespasian, has the cynicism of any modern-day detective. The characters are colorful and will keep you reading the entire series. Start with Silver Pigs.
Ariana Franklin – Adelia is a unique woman. Trained as a doctor and pathologist in the medical school in Salerno she is sent to England to solve a mysterious case for King Henry II. Mistress of the Art of Death, the first book in the series, won the 2008 Macavity Award for Best Historical Novel.
Simon Hawke – A couple of young lads, an actor named Tuck Smythe and an aspiring writer of plays named Will Shakespeare, are our sleuths.
Bruce Alexander – Sadly, the death of Alexander means that there are only eleven books in the series featuring Sir John Fielding, Sir John is the blind magistrate and founder of London’s police force in the 1700’s. The stories are related through the eyes of Jeremy Proctor, a 13-year-old boy, who becomes the eyes and ears of Sir John. Blind Justice is the first book in the series. It’s good to read them in order as Jeremy grows up over the course of the books.
Maureen Ash – Her early 13th c. reluctant hero is Bascot de Marins, a Templar Knight recovering from imprisonment during the Crusades. The Alehouse Murders is where we first meet him
Laurie King – I always found further adventures of Sherlock Holmes unsatisfying, but I truly enjoy Ms King’s series featuring Mary Russell. Mary is a young student of Sherlock Holmes and eventually marries him in spite of the difference in their ages.
Anne Perry – Both her series with Thomas Pitt and the one with William Monk (and their wives) must rank as my favorites. Perry is a wonderful writer and her characters are deep and thoughtful. I keep a notebook handy when I read them as there are so many ideas expressed that I want to remember and think about at another time. She also has a series that takes place in WWI.
Charles Todd – Ian Rutledge is a shell-shocked veteran of WW I returning to his job at Scotland Yard. During the war he had to order the battlefield execution of a Scotsman whose “ghost” continually ‘natters’ at him. A Test of Wills was the very much acclaimed first novel in his series.
Caleb Carr – Carr’s two books, The Alienist and The Angel of Darkness, move us to New York City while Teddy Roosevelt is the police commissioner dealing with a serial killer. No “light-weight” book here – The Alienist is about 500 pages, and every one of them is a page turner. (An alienist would be called a psychologist today).
James R. Benn – Billy Boyle is one of the newer historical series I have been reading. Billy was a Boston cop, who comes from a family of Boston cops. His Irish family is also distantly related to General Eisenhower and, after enlistment, Billy gets posted to Eisenhower’s staff to help him solve a crime. Billy is tremendously likable.
Kathryn Miller Haines – Another WWII era series features Rosie Winter, a New York City gal trying to make it as an actress. This series is enjoyable not only because they are good mysteries, but they offer something that I haven’t come across a lot – a view of how the war affected the day to day living of people here in the US. I find the entire series well worth the read. The first book is The War Against Miss Winter.