I have recently discovered the pleasure of reading historical mystery novels. I have found them to be well written and frequently less violent than their modern day counterparts. The detectives use their brains to solve crimes rather than resorting to laboratory tests and other methods of modern forensic analysis. This page is not meant to be a comprehensive treatment of the field, but only a list of some of the authors which I have enjoyed.
Susan Wittig Albert - Ms. Albert and her husband, Bill, write a series of Victorian - Edwardian mysteries under the name of Robin Paige. This series features Kate Ardleigh Sheridan and Sir Charles Sheridan who use the newest scientific methods of the day in solving crimes. For more information, visit their web site.
Stephanie Barron - Writes the Jane Austen mystery series as well as historical novels, and under the name Francine Matthews she writes spy novels. In the Jane Austen series, the novelist Austen solves crimes with skill and ingenuity. Ms. Barron was born in Binghamton, NY, graduated from Princeton, and was employed by the CIA before she began her writing career. Find out more at her web site.
Lillian De La Torre (1902 - 1993) - Lillian De La Torre was the first writer to use a real historical figure as the detective solving a crime. She wrote 30 short stories portraying the exploits of Samuel Johnson as a private investigator. She was born in New York city. She received her bachelor's degree from the College of New Rochelle, and then received masters degrees from Columbia University and Radcliffe College specializing in the 18th century. She married George S. McCue in 1932. She taught in the English department at Colorado College for twenty seven years. The story "Dr. Sam Johnson, Detector" appeared in Ellery Queen's Mystery Magazine in 1943. Most of the other Sam Johnson stories appeared in that magazine. De La Torre was president of the Mystery Writers of America in 1979. More information may be found in her obituary in the New York Times. A bibliography of works may be found at the Fantastic Fiction web site.
Ruth Downie - British author who was born in North Devon. She writes a series about Roman doctor Gaius Petreius Ruso who is stationed in Roman Britain. The first book in the series is Medicus which was published in 2006. She has a web site here
Ariana Franklin (1933 - 2011) - The pen name of Diana Norman. She was the author of a series of award winning historical mystery novels which describe the exploits of a woman physician Adelia who was trained in the schools of Salerno in the art of examining dead bodies to determine the true manner of their death. She brings these skills to medieval England in the twelfth century. More about Ariana Franklin may be found at Wikipedia
Laurie King - Laurie King was born and raised in California She is best known for her series about Mary Russell and semi-retired Sherlock Holmes. The first book of this series The Beekeeper's Apprentice was published in 1994. She has also written a series about Kate Martinelli, a San Francisco police detective. The first book in this series A Grave Talent won the Edgar Award for best first novel. For more information, visit her web site
S. J. Parris - This is the pen name of Stephanie Merritt who is the author of a literate and fascinating mystery series in which the series detective is the philosopher Giordano Bruno. These books are set in Elizabethan England which is rife with intrigue and religious controversy. The first book in the series is Heresy which was published in 2010. You will find more information about the author and her books at her web site.
Anne Perry (1938 - ). The majority of Anne Perry's novels are set in the Victorian era in England. One series details the investigations of Inspector Pitt and his wife Charlotte. Another series features private investigator William Monk and his wife Hester. Both series describe the social inequalities and injustices which were common to this period.
Anne Perry's web site.
Ellis Peters (1913 - 1995) Pseudonym of Edith Pargeter. Ellis Peters wrote 90 books but it was only with the publication of the Brother Cadfael novels that she achieved wide spread recognition. The first Cadfael novel A Morbid Taste for Bones was published in 1977. A list of the Cadfael novels may be found on Wikipedia.
Christopher John (C. J.) Sansom - was born in Edinburgh, Scotland. He was a practising lawyer until he decided to quit and become a novelist. He writes a series whose sleuth is Matthew Shardlake, a lawyer in England in time of Henry VIII. An interview with C. J. Sansom may be found at the Guardian web site. Sansom's web site.
S. D. Sykes - A british novelist whose first nevel Plague Land is set in 14th century England following the ravages of the Black Death. This well-researched novel describes the efforts of young Oswald de Lacy, the new Lord of Somershill Manor to find the murderer of two women in the village. The villagers believe that the murders were committed by demonic dog-headed men, but Oswald looks for a human murderer. Visit the author's web site.
Charles Todd - Charles Todd is a mother and son writing team who are Americans. Their series detective is Ian Rutledge who has returned from World War I shell-shocked and accompanied always by the voice in his head of Hamish, a British soldier whom he had executed on the battlefield for refusing to fight. Todd's books are gripping and well-written looks at England immediately after World War I. They also write a series about Bess Crawford, a nurse who has returned from the WWI battlefields.Charles Todd Web Site.
Nicola Upson - A real treat for fans of Josephine Tey. Nicola Upson writes a series of mysteries which feature Josephine Tey as the sleuth. The first book An Expert in Murder was published in 2006, and more books in the series have followed. Ms. Upson has also written nonfiction books, and has been the mystery critic for the New Statesman. For more information, visit the Fantastic Fiction web site.
Jacqueline Winspear (1955 - ) - The author of the Maisie Dobbs series which explores life in England in the aftermath of World War I. Maisie was a nurse during the war, and became a private detective after the war was over. Ms. Winspear was born in Kent, England, and in 1990 moved to the United States. The first novel in the series Maisie Dobbs was published in 2003, and won an Agatha Award for best first novel. For more information visit her web site.
Boris Akunin (1956 - ) - Follow the adventures of Erast Fandorin as he solves crimes in 19th century Russia. Akunin worked as a translator before becoming a writer.
Lindsey Davis (1939 - ) was born in Birmingham, read English at Oxford, and then worked in the civil service until 1985. She is best known for her series about Marcus Didius Falco, who solves crimes in Rome in the 70's (No not the 1970's, the 70's AD). The first novel of the series, The Silver Pigs was published in 1989. She is now writing a second series about Flavia Alba, Falco's adopted daughter. Ms. Davis has won many awards including the CWA Cartier Diamond Dagger which honours outstanding achievement in the field of crime writing. For more information, visit her web site
Michael Gregorio - is the pen name of the writing and married couple, Daniela De Gregorio and Michael G. Jacob. Their series deals with the investigations of magistrate Hanno Stiffeniis in Prussia during the occupation by Napoleon. In the first books of the series, The Critique of Criminal Reason. Hanno calls upon the investigative skills of Immanuel Kant, the philosopher. You will find their web site here.
Giulio Leoni - The author of The Mosaic Crimes in which the detective is Dante Alighieri who seeks a murderer in 14th century Florence. Leoni's web site.
Judith Rock - Writes a series of novels featuring Jesuit Charles du Luc which are set in seventeenth century Paris. The first book The Rhetoric of Death is a fascination introduction to the this world of royal schemers and religious controversy. Miss Rock has a Ph.D. in art and theology, and has done extensive research in this time period. Her web site.
Cordelia Francis Biddle - Author of a the Martha Beale series of mysteries set in Philadelphia in the 1840's. She is also half of the mystery writing team of Nero Blanc. Her web site.
Maureen Jennings - Author of the Murdoch Mystery series set in turn of the century Toronto from which the Murdoch Mystery TV show has been developed. Her biography and information about her books may be found at her web site. Look here for an interview with Ms. Jennings.
J. J. Murphy - Author of a series about Dorothy Parker and the members of the Algonquin Round Table. If you enjoy the Dorothy Parker's witty comments, you will enjoy this series. Visit the Round Table Mysteries web site for more information.
Michael Pearce (1933 - ) - British author of a series about the Mamur Zapt, the chief of the secret police in Cairo, Egypt, in the years leading up to the First World War. The first book in the series is Mamur Zapt and the Return of the Carpet. Pearce was born in Anglo-Egyptian Sudan. You will find a bibliography of his books at Fantastic Fiction.
If this has stimulated your interest is historical mysteries, click here for lists prepared by real experts on the subject.
This site is maintained by Linda Bertland,
Philadelphia, PA. Please address any comments, additions, or corrections to firstname.lastname@example.org