Feature Image Credit: @panmacmillan
Inspectors, love, scandals, murders, a chance to travel back in time … have we enticed you yet? Historical fiction mysteries are some of our favorite books to read. It’s the nostalgia of reading about Sherlock Holmes and watching Peaky Blinders. These books will give you everything you desire and more, from accusing to being accused, and dark truths to brutal crimes of history. Enjoy these tales of varying eras, places and crimes—they may just catch you by surprise.
A Girl Like You: Henrietta and Inspector Howard Series by Michelle Cox
It’s 1935 and Henrietta Von Harmon is working as a 26 Girl at a corner bar on Chicago’s northwest side, it’s the only way that she can take care of her melancholy mother and younger siblings after her father committed suicide. When she takes a job as a taxi dancer, things take a turn when her floor matron turns up dead. Inspector Clive Howard gets Henrietta to go undercover and in no time she is sucked into the dark underworld of Chicago. Book 1 in the series is the start of this unsuitably attracted pair of sleuths. These are the elegant murder mysteries that you’ve been waiting for.
Murder on Black Swan Lane by Andrea Penrose
The Earl of Wrexford finds himself as the chief suspect in a murder case when his newly acclaimed nemesis, Reverend Josiah Holworthy, is found brutally murdered. It isn’t until Wrexford discovers the true identity of popular satirical cartoonist, A.J. Quill, as Charlotte Sloan. Instead of giving her up, he proposes that she use her sources to unveil the shadows that the clergyman had been involved in and help unmask the real murderer. They are soon plunged into the hidden world among London’s enclaves. Will they become the new victims of the next experiment in villainy or discover who is truly behind this heinous crime?
Blood and Sugar by Laura Shepherd-Robinson
In 1781, a very dark time in British history, a man’s body is discovered hanging from a hook at Deptford dock. Brutally tortured and murdered, the people are wondering if this is a warning of some kind. It isn’t until a couple of days later when war hero Captain Harry Corsham is visited by the sister of an old friend, who tells him that her brother is missing. The Captain starts to think the murder and disappearance are linked. Corsham’s friend, Tad Archer, is a passionate abolitionist, and Corsham learns that his friend had some secrets he was going to expose that would cause irreparable damage to the British slaving industry. Conspiracies start to unfold—and the truth behind this gruesome crime is not for the faint of heart.
The Doll Factory by Elizabeth Macneal
This is a tale of love, art and obsession. The Great Exhibition is growing in Hyde Park, and in the dazzled and gazing crowd, two people meet almost by fate. The swooningly attractive artist, Iris, isn’t fazed at all by the moment, but Silas can’t help but be enchanted by this possible new beginning. When Iris is asked to model for Pre-Raphaelite artist Louis Frost, she agrees on the condition that he will also teach her to paint. Her dreams and aspirations finally start to shine through, but soon the shadows start to close in. Evil is waiting around the corner, obsession becoming an art form, and hauntings that will stay with you and Iris long after the end.
A Rising Man by Abir Mukherjee
Captain Sam Wyndham just arrived in Calcutta in 1919. He is looking for a new start, recruited to head up a new post in the police department. It doesn’t take long for this new Scottland Yard to be immersed into the murder of a British Official; a murder that threatens the entire city. A note found in the senior official’s mouth warns the British to leave India, or else. With the help of his two new colleagues, Wyndham must solve this mystery before the entire city erupts.
The Sympathizer by Viet Thanh Nguyen
He is a Communist double agent; a man with “two minds.” The Sympathizer is a half-French, half-Vietnamese army captain who arranges to come to America after the Fall of Saigon, and while building a new life with other Vietnamese refugees in Los Angeles, is secretly reporting back to his Communist superiors in Vietnam. A story about refugees and the American dream, the narrator tells his story of war and survival.
The Confessions of Frannie Langton by Sara Collins
Frannie Langton is a seductress, a witch, a master manipulator, and the accused murderer of her employers, scientist George Benham and his French wife, Marguerite. The evidence is damning, as she was covered in the victims’ blood—but Frannie claims that she doesn’t remember what happened that fateful night, literally. Her story might not be the murder of her employers, but it is one of her childhood on a Jamaican plantation that set her onto the path of the Benhams’ home and into the forbidden relationship in which she was so passionately entwined. Nothing is as it seems, and she will unravel the English society as a whole as the true murderer is unmasked.
The Christie Affair by Nina de Gramont
The book is based on the mystery surrounding Agatha’s disappearance just before Christmas 1926. No reason was ever given by Christie for this period in her life, theories and explanations have been widespread. The story is told from the point of view of Nan O’Dea, who is the mistress and subsequent second wife of Archie Christie.
Confessions of the Fox by Jordy Rosenberg
It’s eighteenth-century London: thieves that are lovers with an unknown story, infamous confessions that have never been found – sound exciting? Heart-broken scholar Dr. Voth discovers the gender-defying manuscript of Jack Sheppard and Edgeworth Bess. As Dr. Voth is delving deeper and deeper into the tales of Jack and Bess, he must figure out if their lives are real or a hoax, and if their lives are fatefully intertwined in the underworld resistance and gender transformation. They may all need saving, and only a miracle will do.
The Dying Day by Vaseem Khan
Persis Wadia is India’s first female police detective, and she has been summoned to the Bombay Royal Asiatic Society. She is tasked to recover Dante’s priceless Divine Comedy, which has coincidentally disappeared along with Englishman William Huxley. Coded clues, a series of murders, and a conspiracy so dark that shadows run from its existence. Can Persis solve the riddle, or will she die trying?