Sleuthing as a Second Career

In our discussion on genres we mentioned the alternative history genre where only small details are changed. One of the most popular forms of this sub-genre is when the writer takes a real life person or a fictional character (who wasn’t a detective) and turns them into a sleuth.

Irene Adler – She was “the” woman to Sherlock Holmes. In a series by Carole Nelson Douglas you get to know her better. It’s a very enjoyable series that begins with Good Night, Mr. Holmes. In this book you see the Scandal in Bohemia story from Irene’s point of view. I think any Holmes fan would enjoy this series.

Beatrix Potter – Beatrix isn’t just the creator of Peter Rabbit and other wonderful tales. In this series by Susan Wittig Albert, she becomes a solver of mysteries after she moves to Hill Top Farm. The first is The Tale of Hill Top Farm. It’s a charming cozy complete with animals. It’s as delightful as Potter’s own stories.  Albert writes with the same flavor as Potter.  She also includes at the end of the book a very informative section telling how these stories follow Potter’s history.

Oscar Wilde – Oscar, playwright and poet, appears as a detective in more than one author’s offerings, but the best series is by Gyles Brandreth. Oscar Wilde and a Death of No Importance is the first.

First Lady Eleanor Roosevelt – The series by her son, Elliott Roosevelt, is enjoyable because the First Lady’s character is consistent with her real life “see-to-it-ness”. Try Murder and the First Lady, the first in the series.

Ben Franklin – Robert Lee Hall has a series about Ben Franklin that is quite a cozy read. Benjamin Franklin Takes the Case is the first. I thoroughly enjoyed it and plan to read the entire series.  Ben is also featured in a fantasy series by J. Gregory Keyes called the Age of Unreason.

Theodore Roosevelt The Alienist and The Angel of Darkness take place while Roosevelt is the Police Commissioner in NYC before he became President. Well written by Caleb Carr, these books are not cozies. They are deeply complex. After reading, I bought both of them so I could read them again.

Canaletto – The 18th century Italian painter arrives in London and is hired by Paymaster William Pitt in Canaletto and the Case of the Westminster Bridge. The series is by Janet Laurence.

Mrs. Hudson – Sherlock Holmes’ housekeeper has learned a thing or two from having Mr. Holmes around. Sydney Hosier has made her an accidental detective in her own right in his charming series.  Elementary, Mrs. Hudson is the first.

Leonardo da Vinci – Leonardo and his apprentice, Dino, are quite the pair. The series, by Diane A. S. Stuckart, is very entertaining and begins with Queen’s Gambit. It’s a wonderful portrayal of the time period.

The Rat Pack – The boys (Sammy Davis Jr., Frank Sinatra and Dean Martin) aren’t really the detectives here, but the stories center around them as they get casino pit boss Eddie G. to help solve the mysteries. For a real nostalgic romp start with Everybody Kills Somebody Sometime. Robert J. Randisi is an accomplished writer and this series may be his best yet. In one of the books Eddie G. helps out Marilyn Monroe and in another, Ava Gardner.  I’ve finished the series and am eagerly awaiting publication of the next.

The Fireside Poets – Oliver Wendell Holmes, Henry Wadsworth Longfellow and James Russell Lowell join forces with publisher J.T. Fields to catch a serial killer in Matthew Pearl’s The Dante Club. Not a cozy!

Published in: on March 23, 2011 at 4:04 pm  Leave a Comment  
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