Genre Spotlight: Historical Mystery


Are you a mystery fan looking for a new spin on solving crime? Maybe it’s time to look into the past and see if a new setting is just the added twist you need.  Whether you’re looking for a more realistic interpretation of the past, or you don’t mind a bit of steampunk or fantasy added to the mix–hey, they didn’t have the crime solving technology we do now–there is a Historical Mystery out there for you.


The Appeal of Historical Mysteries by Holly West

Historical mysteries ignite my imagination more than any other genre. I love stepping into the powerful shoes of a corrupt king, roaming the streets of Victorian London in a hunt for Jack-the-Ripper, or taking a front row seat at a Salem witch trial. Historical mysteries not only allow me to vividly experience daily life in another time and place, they prompt me to ask a vital question: how does the past effect the present?

I enjoy the integration of fiction, true-life events, real historical figures, and of course, a crime to solve. The best novels of the genre weave rich, evocative details seamlessly into the narrative and offer fully developed, complex characters that are true to their settings while enabling modern readers to better understand the human emotions and motivation behind historical events. They can even provide the impetus to learn more about a particular historical event or time period, giving us the opportunity to learn from the past rather than repeat it.

No matter your interests, there’s a historical mystery out there for you. Pick one up and view history from the unique perspective of author’s imagination. Be transported.


New to Historical Mysteries and don’t know where to begin? Here are five recommendations to start you off…including some with Steampunk and Paranormal twists!

mistressoffortuneMistress of Fortune by Holly West

Isabel, Lady Wilde, a mistress to King Charles II, has a secret: she makes her living disguised as Mistress Ruby, a fortune-teller who caters to London’s elite. It’s a dangerous life among the charlatans, rogues and swindlers who lurk in the city’s dark corners, but to Isabel, the risk is worth the reward.

Until magistrate Sir Edmund Godfrey seeks Mistress Ruby’s counsel and reveals his unwitting involvement in a plot to kill the king. When Isabel’s diary containing dangerous details of his confession is stolen, she knows she must find it before anyone connects her to Mistress Ruby. Especially after Sir Edmund’s corpse is discovered a few days later…

Isabel is sure that whoever stole her diary is Sir Edmund’s killer–and could be part of a conspiracy that leads all the way to the throne. But as she delves deeper into the mystery, not even the king himself may be able to save her.


thehollowhouseThe Hollow House by Janis Patterson

Denver, 1919

I decided to use the name Geraldine Brunton. It’s not the name I was born with, nor the name I married, but it will hide who I really am…and what I have done.

I’ve taken a job as companion to wealthy invalid Emmaline Stubbs, whose fragile exterior hides a will of iron. Despite its opulence, the Stubbs household is not a happy one. Emmaline’s equally stubborn daughter and charismatic, untrustworthy son-in-law want control of her fortune, forcing the entire staff to take sides in their power struggle. I must tread carefully in this tension-filled household if I want to keep my job and my secrets.

Events take a deadly turn when Mrs. Stubbs is nearly killed and a maid is found murdered. Though I ought to keep a low profile, it soon becomes clear I must uncover the truth. Because if I don’t, my past will make me the prime suspect…


taintedinnocenceTainted Innocence by Joss Alexander

England, 1524

In Cambridge, the College of the Young Princes brings together all manner of people–with all manner of secrets. Among them is Bryony, an illiterate laundress and a stranger to the town, who lives in constant fear that her unusual upbringing and lack of friends will leave her vulnerable to accusations of witchcraft.

When Matthew Hobson, a scholar at the college, is found murdered and wrapped in linen that Bryony lost, she immediately becomes a suspect. But she is not the only one. Luke Hobson, a taciturn local tradesman who has sacrificed much for his charismatic but selfish brother, also has a motive for the murder.

With the university authorities eager to solve the crime, outsiders Bryony and Luke are forced into a wary alliance, knowing they have to track down the killer if they are to escape hanging. But can they trust in each other’s innocence in order to uncover the truth?


cruelnumbersCruel Numbers by Christopher Beats

After the North loses the War of Southern Secession, money buys power in the Magnocracy, and people can disappear in a blink. War veteran Donovan Schist’s specialty is finding these missing persons. There isn’t much money in it, but he sleeps a little better.

This time, Donovan is looking for a girl named Bridget Cleary. Her family’s had no word from her for months. Donovan’s certain he’ll find her belly-up, but it seems her talent for analytical machines has made her a valuable asset to the powers that be–an asset that they’re determined to keep hidden and out of reach. In over his head, Donovan enlists his friend Verhalen to help. The eccentric inventor may be unstable, but his steam-powered gadgets give Donovan the edge.

Donovan’s no stranger to the rougher edges of society, but when the usual threats turn to attacks on his life, it quickly becomes clear that someone very important does not want him to find Bridget Cleary…


dieonyourfeetDie on Your Feet by S.G. Wong

Crescent City, 1934

In Crescent City, the dead are always close.

At the point of death, people can choose to become Ghosts, tethered to the living. They can remain with their loved ones as invisible companions–or in the case of Crescent City’s ghostly mayor, remain in office forever.

Being a P.I. in Crescent City isn’t easy or glamorous. Luckily Lola Starke has an edge: her Ghost, Aubrey, who can gather valuable clues from other Ghosts in the Ether. When they accept a simple missing-persons case, they’re drawn into a complicated web of lies and double-crosses that involves the most powerful people in the City–including Lola’s own mother, Grace McCall, a famous film star and the mayor’s former lover.

As Lola races to untangle the deceit ensnaring her, she discovers an old enemy at its center carefully orchestrating the perfect moment to betray Lola and destroy Aubrey forever…unless Lola and Aubrey can stop them first.

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