Historical Mystery Lovers discussion

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Books & Reading > What historical mysteries are you reading?

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message 1: by Spuddie (new)

Spuddie | 27 comments Mod
Anyone actually reading historical mystery at the moment? Or have you just finished something?

Both, for me. I finished Alan Gordon's An Antic Disposition, which is the fifth book in the Fools Guild medieval mysteries and as usual, enjoyed it immensely.

Currently I'm reading The Grim Reaper by Bernard Knight which is one of the "Crowner John" mysteries set in Exeter, UK in 1195. It's about a serial killer who leaves notes with Biblical references by the bodies--so they figure it has to be a priest or cleric of some kind since they were just about the only ones who could read at that time--and certainly the only ones with references to the Bible. Crowner John is such a curmudgeon, but I like this series a lot. It's not cozy, rather gritty and doesn't mask the realities of the day.

How about ya'll? Anything interesting in the works?


message 2: by MBP (new)

MBP | 8 comments I just read The Limehouse Text by Will Thomas - 3rd in the Barker & Llewelyn series, set in Victorian England. I enjoyed it, but I didn't think it was as good as the first two. Still planning to read #4, The Hellfire Conspiracy.

Another recent read was A Dangerous Mourning, #2 in the William Monk series by Anne Perry. So far I'm finding this series a bit slow paced, but with great details about life in Victorian England, and interesting main characters.

The best historical mystery I've read recently is Revelation by C. J. Sansom, #4 in the Shardlake series set in Tudor England. Sansom explores many issues of the time (religious differences, mental illness, social class) without coming across as preachy or heavy-handed. Not a over-romanticized version of the Tudor era, and with a compelling plot and intriguing characters.

I'll have to look into the Crowner John series - sounds great, and I love that time period.

Susanna - Censored by GoodReads (susannag) | 452 comments I have really, really enjoyed all the books in the Shardlake series. Dissolution was the best book I read last year.

David Liss' A Conspiracy of Paper and A Spectacle of Corruption are both fun, though I don't think either are quite as good as any of the Shardlakes. They are set in the London of about 1720. The Coffee Trader I didn't like so much.

message 4: by Courtney (new)

Courtney (courtneyclift) | 4 comments OMG...Hi, I'm Courtney and I'm a history/mystery book addict...

I just joined and I just started my current fave author David Liss' new book THE WHISKEY REBELS (already a page turner). I loved all of his previous books, but have not heard about "Shardlake" series. Anyone care to make my day and enlighten me?


Susanna - Censored by GoodReads (susannag) | 452 comments The Shardlake series is by C.J. Sansom. There are four books in it so far (three out in the US - I think Revelation is due out here in February):

Dark Fire

Matthew Shardlake is a London lawyer in the 1530s and 1540s. A hunchback with religious doubts, he works originally for Thomas Cromwell, and then for the Archbishop of Canterbury, Thomas Cranmer. These are some of the best novels that I have read about the Tudor period.

message 6: by Spuddie (new)

Spuddie | 27 comments Mod
I really enjoy C.J. Sansom's Matthew Shardlake books also, the first two were awesome! I have Sovereign here waiting and hoping to acquire Revelation soon.

Courtney, I also enjoyed The Whiskey Rebels, I did an ARC for review last month. I'm really looking forward to Liss's next Benjamin Weaver mystery series book, too--I think that's due out next spring sometime.


message 7: by Courtney (new)

Courtney (courtneyclift) | 4 comments Thanks Susanna...I guess I have a new "to-read" author!

Cheryl, I am definitely enjoying WHISKEY REBELS. It's so interesting how he captures that as much as things change in terms of people and the economy. I feel like I am Joan and can't wait to delve further into her life.


Susanna - Censored by GoodReads (susannag) | 452 comments A new Benjamin Weaver? That sounds fun.

message 9: by Amanda (new)

Amanda (amandareid) | 3 comments You all should check out The Liebermann Papers series by Frank Tallis. The title of the first one is different in the UK and in the U.S. so if you're in the U.S. you want to look for Death in Vienna (horrible name) and in the UK it's Mortal Mischief.

This series takes place in early 20th century Vienna. The main character is Max Liebermann, a young Jewish psychoanalyst who is a student of Freud (at this time still highly controversial) and a good friend of Detective Inspector Reinhardt. While the first book's mystery is a bit weaker than the following two, I found myself so wrapped up in how he describes the cafe culture of Vienna that I didn't really mind. They have short chapters which make for quick page-turning. I'm confident you will really enjoy this series. If nothing else it will make you want to visit Vienna!

Now, on to Matthew Shardlake...so excited to start this series!

message 10: by Terri (new)

Terri (terrilovescrows) | 26 comments Hi! I just joined. I have read only the first Alan Gordon Fool book bt I loved it. A great way to hide and not be noticed and spy!

message 11: by Terri (new)

Terri (terrilovescrows) | 26 comments I just finished MJ Trow's Lestrade and the Guardian Angel (8th in the series). lestrade is a character Trow took out of the Sherlock Holmes stories and breathed life into. he is an inspector from Scotland Yard and works cases in Victorian England. There is a lot of word play and puns and I really enjoy them.

message 12: by Spuddie (new)

Spuddie | 27 comments Mod
Welcome new folks--and Amanda, I'll be on the lookout for that series by Frank Tallis. 20th century is a bit later than my preferred "time zone" but it does sound interesting.

Terri, I read one of the Lestrade books years ago and never went back to it--it was some book I got at a garage sale and was in the middle of the series so never paid much attention to it. I like (okay, I'm *fanatical* about) reading series in order so I really should go back and start at the beginning.

Historical mystery I'm currently reading is Victoria Thompson's Murder on Marble Row, one of the gaslight mysteries set in early 1900's New York when Teddy Roosevelt was still the Commissioner of Police. I'm enjoying it! How about the rest of you--where in time and place are you stuck at the moment?


Susanna - Censored by GoodReads (susannag) | 452 comments I'm re-reading Dissolution, and am expecting The Tainted Relic: An Historical Mystery in the mail tomorrow.

message 14: by Amanda (new)

Amanda (amandareid) | 3 comments Just finished Dissolution - very good indeed! I'm looking forward to the rest of this series...

message 15: by MBP (last edited Oct 23, 2008 12:55PM) (new)

MBP | 8 comments I'm reading The Hidden Man A Novel of Suspense by Anthony Flacco, which is set in San Francisco in 1915, just prior to the opening of the World's Fair. I'm not sure yet if I'll like this one: the setting is great, but the pacing is erratic. I like the main series characters, but the author is spending less time with them and more with two of the antagonists, which is frustrating. I'll have to see how this one ends.

Susanna - Censored by GoodReads (susannag) | 452 comments Just finished The Tainted Relic last night - it was quite good.

message 17: by Laura (new)

Laura | 22 comments I am planning to read Revelation by C.J.Sansom

message 18: by Jamie (new)

Jamie Collins (jamie_goodreads) | 9 comments I've put Sansom's Dissolution on my Christmas list. Those sound like something I would like.

I'm getting close to the end of Steven Saylor's Roma Sub Rosa series - only two more to go until I've caught up with him. I recently finished A Mist of Prophecies, which was not one of the better books in the series. It was mostly interesting because it was centered around several famous Roman women.

message 19: by Spuddie (new)

Spuddie | 27 comments Mod
I'm currently reading The Difficult Saint by Sharan Newman, one of the middle Catherine LeVendeur series. So far am enjoying it! I also just started The Historian by Elizabeth Kostova. Finally! I've had that on my TBR shelf for ages and the weather is sufficiently cold and damp that I feel like curling up with such a lengthy tome now. :)


message 20: by Laura (new)

Laura | 22 comments In intend to read Revelation by C.J.Sansom and I also loved The Historian.

Susanna - Censored by GoodReads (susannag) | 452 comments I started Belladonna At Belstone by Michael Jecks last night.

It features murder and intrigue at a nunnery on Dartmoor, in 1321. OK so far.

Susanna - Censored by GoodReads (susannag) | 452 comments I finished Belladonna at Belstone last night, and it was a nice little historical mystery. Now I'm reading The Holy Thief: The Nineteenth Chronicle of Brother Cadfael, by Ellis Peters. It's starting better than the last one of hers that I read, which was The Heretic's Apprentice, which gave me the overall impression that she was just phoning that one in.

Susanna - Censored by GoodReads (susannag) | 452 comments Just finished A Moorland Hanging: A Knights Templar Mystery, another Michael Jecks novel, last night. It was also quite enjoyable. This one involves tin mining, not exactly the standard medieval setting, which was a nice change.

message 24: by Donna (last edited Dec 17, 2008 07:33PM) (new)

Donna Currently reading Full Dark House by Christopher Fowler which is maybe a historical mystery. It is set in modern London and London during the Blitz. Very interesting, fast paced. I am aleady attached to the main characters.

Reading through this thread I see lots of my favorites, Michaek Jecks, C J Sansom, and Anne Perry to name a few but I also see a few new names to check out - thanks!

message 25: by MBP (new)

MBP | 8 comments I've been on a medieval mystery kick lately - I've read the following in the last month:

Company of Liars by Karen Maitland - a group of travelers thrown together, trying to avoid the Black Death, and each with a secret. Very atmospheric; would have loved it if the ending hadn't felt tacked-on.

Veil of Lies by Jeri Westerson - featuring Crispin Guest, disgraced former knight. Enjoyable, but hard to warm up to the main character.

The Apothecary Rose by Candace Robb - first in the Owen Archer series. Really liked this, and am planning to read more in this series.

I'm currently reading The Harper's Quine by Pat McIntosh. I'm about halfway through and enjoying it, but I wish the author had included notes or a glossary - it's set in medieval Glasgow, and she uses many Scottish terms that I'm not familiar with.

Susanna - Censored by GoodReads (susannag) | 452 comments Recently I've read Absolution by Murder, by Peter Tremayne, which was a disappointment, and One Corpse Too Many: The Second Chronicle of Brother Cadfael, by Ellis Peters, which was, I think, the best Brother Cadfael I've read.

Currently I'm reading The Judgment of Caesar, by Steven Saylor. Gordianus "the Finder" is not in Rome in this one, but in Egypt, trying to find a cure for his wife's mysterious illness. Pompey and Caesar have also shown up, as it is 48 BC.

message 27: by Donna (new)

Donna For a change of pace, I just finished Flying Too High: Phryne Fisher by Kerry Greenwood. Set in Melbourne, Australia, in the 1920s with a lively amature sleuth, Phryne Fisher, it is light, fluffy, and thoroughly enjoyable.

Susanna - Censored by GoodReads (susannag) | 452 comments I'm currently reading Maisie Dobbs by Jacqueline Windspear. The part I have read so far is set in 1929 London; the section I am about to begin is London in 1910-1917. It's interesting so far.

message 29: by Donna (new)

Donna The Maisie Dobbs series is wonderful. I hope you enjoy as much as I have.

message 30: by Laura (new)

Laura | 22 comments I started And Only to Deveice by Tasha Alexander, seems quite interesting.

message 31: by Courtney (new)

Courtney (courtneyclift) | 4 comments Anya Seton's "Katherine" is spectacular so far...


message 32: by Laura (new)

Laura | 22 comments Courtney wrote: "Anya Seton's "Katherine" is spectacular so far...


message 33: by Laura (new)

Laura | 22 comments Courtney, do you considered it like a historical or historical fiction? I also loved Katherine as well as Dragonwyck

Susanna - Censored by GoodReads (susannag) | 452 comments I am very much enjoying Maisie Dobbs, and yes, Katherine is pretty spectacular, Courtney.

message 35: by Courtney (new)

Courtney (courtneyclift) | 4 comments Laura,

It is fiction, but very accurate historical fiction. The preface tells which is which so you know going in who or what is based in fact. I'm loving it!

message 36: by Laura (new)

Laura | 22 comments I also loved this book and Dragonwyck is even better, is more gothic but also breathless, I hope you like it also.

Susanna - Censored by GoodReads (susannag) | 452 comments Maisie Dobbs was very good. I have a couple more of the books in that series, and may read the second one next.

message 38: by Pat (new)

Pat | 5 comments Hi Everyone, I'm glad I found you. I was tracking Laura's comments and it led here.
I am also a big Matthew Shardlake fan (C.J. Sansom.) I ordered his latest book Revelation from the UK because I couldn't wait for it
to be released here in the US. I hope there are many more to come.
I'd like to make a couple of recommendations for books I have recently read:
The Shadow of the Wind by Carlos Ruiz Zafon..takes place around 1945 Barcelona, and
Child 44 by Tom Rob Smith..which takes place in Soviet Russia from the early 1930's to the mid 1950's.
They are the first novels for both authors, and quite possibly my favorites from 2008.
The time period made be a little too current for some of you, but they are certainly great mysteries IMO.
Because of your great suggestions I've been able to add to my 'must read' list. Thanks.

message 39: by Donna (new)

Donna I just started The House Without a Keyby Earl Derr Biggers. It is an original Charlie Chan mystery written in 1925.

Susanna - Censored by GoodReads (susannag) | 452 comments I couldn't wait last spring when the US release date for Revelation was in September! Luckily, a friend here at GoodReads sent me a copy - from Sweden.

I'm sure you'll like it, Pat - it was every bit as good as the others in the series. I too hope there are more books to come.

message 41: by Laura (new)

Laura | 22 comments Susanna, I think our Swedish friend is putting BookMooch into Goodreads. I also have a copy of this book in Brazil.

message 42: by MBP (new)

MBP | 8 comments Hi Pat - I ordered Revelation from the UK too, and I was glad I did! Why the different UK/US release dates, anyway? It's not like they need time to translate...

I'm in the middle of 2 historical mystery series right now:

Candace Robb - Owen Archer series, set in England in the mid-1300s. I just finished The King's Bishop and am enjoying each one more than the last. Well researched; interesting series characters.

Pat McIntosh - Gil Cunningham series, set in 15th century Scotland. Also good, but sometimes the Scottish dialect slows down the pace.

message 43: by Pat (new)

Pat | 5 comments MPB, I don't know why the release delays, but it sure is frustrating. I've had to order a couple of other books by UK authors that way too. I use 'The Book Depository' because of their free shipping, and the books usually arrive faster than if they had been shipped in the US.

message 44: by Sharon (new)

Sharon (damekay) | 15 comments I'm new. I am reading Deryn Lake's DEATH IN THE DARK WALK. It is set in Georgian England and the characters are actual historical figures including Sir John Fielding, the famous blind justice.

message 45: by Julie (new)

Julie | 18 comments I just finished the third Shardlake/Sansom book, Sovereign. I really like that series.

I'm going to start four new-to-me series in the next couple of days:

The Joliffe series by Margaret Frazer
The Templar Knight series by Maureen Ash
The Marcus Didius Falco series by Lindsey Davis
The Mystery at Queen Elizabeth I's Court by Fiona Buckley (at least, I think this last one is the first in a series)

Susanna - Censored by GoodReads (susannag) | 452 comments I think the fourth Shardlake is out here in the States in February (unless they've put it back yet again), Julie. It's called Revelation.

message 47: by Sharon (new)

Sharon (damekay) | 15 comments I am reading THE VIRGIN QUEEN'S DAUGHTER which is kind of a mystery and certainly historical. It perpetuates the possibility that Queen Elizabeth I gave birth to a child by Thomas Seymour, her stepmother's husband. The story has been around for centuries and the mystery is still compelling.

Susanna - Censored by GoodReads (susannag) | 452 comments I started Steven Saylor's The House of the Vestals last night. He really is quite good at the short story length.

message 49: by Laura (new)

Laura | 22 comments Susanna wrote: "I started Steven Saylor's The House of the Vestals last night. He really is quite g..."

I started The Prophecy of Death by Michael Jecks

message 50: by Dfunky1 (new)

Dfunky1 I'm also reading The Whiskey Rebels A Novel and so far find it to be compelling.

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