Historical Mystery Lovers discussion

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Q & A Discussions > Historical Mysteries in a War Time Setting

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message 1: by Lauren (new)

Lauren (laurenjberman) | 1693 comments Mod
I've been a bit lax in my weekly Q & A's - sorry about that. My renovations are taking a huge chunk of my time.

Anyhoo....

Reading Charles Todd this month got me thinking about historical mysteries set during or in the immediate aftermath of a war, and the affect that wartime experiences have both on the mystery plot and the character development.

Does the focus on war add to or detract for these? Any preferences on the war setting itself (Napoleonic, American Civil War, WWI, WWII, etc.?)


message 2: by Michell (new)

Michell Karnes (royalreader) | 80 comments I think the background of war adds to the mystery. Sometime showing how murder continues no matter that war is going on. It can contribute by giving a background to spying, covert actions or ways in which the enemy is trying to hinder the nation they are fighting, such as the mystery where Princess Elizabeth needs protecting during WWII. Also, in the case of the Charles Todd novels the gives a realism to the after effects of the war such as Hamish and to Bess's interactions with patients. I personally like the backdrop of WWI and II from the British point of view. But then I am a sucker for anything with British History in it.


message 3: by Tracey (last edited Jul 27, 2016 10:57AM) (new)

Tracey (stewartry) | 218 comments James R. Benn has a series starting with Billy Boyle, in which a young Boston cop is recruited for some top secret type work during WWII. The war is the focus, and the ones I've read have been very good.


message 4: by Veronica (last edited Jul 27, 2016 11:07AM) (new)

Veronica  (readingonthefly) | 694 comments Tracey wrote: "James R. Benn has a series starting with Billy Boyle, in which a young Boston cop is recruited for some top secret type work during WWII. The war is the focus, and the ones I've read ..."

I just saw one of these books at my library and I was going to get it but then figured my armload of books was enough to last me for a couple of weeks. The retro cover really caught my eye.


message 5: by Meghan (new)

Meghan | 267 comments I'm a sucker when it comes to historical fiction involving either WWI or WWII, so add a mystery to it and I'm in. I particularly liked Elizabeth Spellman's (sadly short-lived) series, and I am enjoying the way Charles Todd takes on the war in different was in the Bess Crawford vs. Ian Rutledge series. The American Civil War was nicely used in P.B. Ryan's series, so I think it can be done and done well.


message 6: by Lauren (new)

Lauren (laurenjberman) | 1693 comments Mod
Tracey wrote: "James R. Benn has a series starting with Billy Boyle, in which a young Boston cop is recruited for some top secret type work during WWII. The war is the focus, and the ones I've read ..."

If the focus is on the war, wouldn't you say this was more historical fiction than mystery?


message 7: by Lauren (new)

Lauren (laurenjberman) | 1693 comments Mod
Meghan wrote: "The American Civil War was nicely used in P.B. Ryan's series, so I think it can be done and done well. ."

I'm enjoying this series as well.


message 8: by Michelle (new)

Michelle Cox | 221 comments Tracey wrote: "James R. Benn has a series starting with Billy Boyle, in which a young Boston cop is recruited for some top secret type work during WWII. The war is the focus, and the ones I've read ..."

I bought the first in this series. Haven't gotten to it yet, but it looks good!


message 9: by Frances (new)

Frances McNamara (fdmcnama) | 9 comments I bought the most recent in this series last year when I met the author at NE Crimebake. I got that one because it is about Jack Kennedy as a PT Boat skipper in the South Pacific and my father was a PT Boat ensign then skipper and got a silver star. I enjoyed it so I need to go back and read the earlier books when I get a chance.


message 10: by happy (last edited Aug 02, 2016 05:23PM) (new)

happy (happyone) | 148 comments Ralph Peters writing as Owen Parry, has a mystery series set in the American Civil War that I enjoyed. He hasn't added any in a few yrs though


https://www.goodreads.com/series/4174...


Susanna - Censored by GoodReads (susannag) | 463 comments I've enjoyed historical mysteries with a war setting. (One of C.J. Sansom's Shardlakes falls into that category - Heartstone.)

I like historical fiction and mystery equally, so I'm fine with ones where the book is more historical fiction - it does have to be a success in at least one or the other, though.


message 12: by Meghan (new)

Meghan | 267 comments Susanna - Censored by GoodReads wrote: "I like historical fiction and mystery equally, so I'm fine with ones where the book is more historical fiction - it does have to be a success in at least one or the other, though. "

I'm the same way!


message 13: by Melanie (last edited Jan 29, 2017 08:24AM) (new)

Melanie Fraser (melaniefraservoiceuk) Michell wrote: "I think the background of war adds to the mystery. Sometime showing how murder continues no matter that war is going on. It can contribute by giving a background to spying, covert actions or ways i..."

Michell, you might like The Guy Winter Mysteries series by James Philip. I've just finished reading book 3, Winter's Exile (which could be read as a stand alone book), and is more of a cozy mystery in a WWII setting in England. The other books in the series have a strong espionage slant.

https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/2...
https://www.amazon.co.uk/Winters-Exil...


message 14: by Julie (new)

Julie Anderson | 1 comments It's interesting - I chaired a discussion recently at Clapham Book Fest about historical writing and there were three other writers there who set their historical fiction during or shortly after a war. Jane Thynne's Sarah Vine books follow an English spy in Nazi Germany, Elizabeth Buchan's latest is about a marriage, during the aftermath of WWII, between a British officer and a German woman and Elizabeth Fremantle sets her novels in and around the Tudor court. All found that the wartime setting offered heightened drama and allowed the exploration of themes against a background of peril and danger. My own 'Reconquista' is set during the wars of religion in southern Spain and explores the impact of war on young people. One character becomes a refugee, another finds he cannot settle into 'ordinary' life and a third takes advantage of the war to pursue her own life. I blogged about historical writing at http://thestorybazaar.com/seduced-by-... and about the Clapham Book fest at http://thestorybazaar.com/seduced-by-...


message 15: by Tracey (new)

Tracey (stewartry) | 218 comments Lauren wrote: "Tracey wrote: "James R. Benn has a series starting with Billy Boyle, in which a young Boston cop is recruited for some top secret type work during WWII. The war is the focus, and the ..."

Wow, I never saw this, sorry! In case anyone's interested (*facepalm*), part of Billy Boyle's top secret work is investigating a series of murders, and meanwhile trying to keep the investigation and the possibility of a serial killer under wraps, while being under active fire the whole time.


message 16: by happy (last edited May 26, 2017 01:28PM) (new)

happy (happyone) | 148 comments Edward Marston has a couple of series set in wartime. My favorite is the Home Front Detective - set in WW I London - currently at seven books

https://www.goodreads.com/series/6440...

and the Captian Rawson series - set in the War of Spanish Successon - currently at 5 books

https://www.goodreads.com/series/4516...

These are not greate literture by any means, but I find them a great way to kill a couple/three hours


message 17: by Gary (new)

Gary Inbinder | 15 comments I liked Stephen Kelly's The Language of the Dead, a murder mystery/police procedural set in rural England during WWII. Strong plot, engaging characters and good period detail and setting.

The Language of the Dead


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