Thrilling Historical Mysteries to Transport You to Another Time
History and thrillers. What’s not to love? You get a historical novel with a mystery book and action and adventure. Pack my bags and sign me up! Or, you know, I’ll just buy the book and do it via my armchair—air conditioning is nice.
It’s 1546, and the government is up for grabs as Protestant and Catholic councilors fight for control while King Henry VIII lays on his deathbed. Enter a secret, confessional book, Lamentation of a Sinner (what a name!), written by Queen Catherine Parr which is now missing with only one page found, and it was in a murdered victim’s hand. Dun dun dun. It’s up to Matthew Shardlake, summoned by the Queen, to retrieve the book among all the politics and chaos. Godspeed!
For fans of Victorian London ,here’s another book inside a book! Memoir author of Confessions of an English Opium-Eater(again, what a name!), Thomas De Quincey, is now a murder suspect thanks to an essay in his book. But clearing his name is not a job he can do on his own—thanks to the aforementioned opium addiction—so he’ll be needing his daughter Emily and Scotland Yard detectives to help him out of this very serious pickle. Bonus: If you’re looking for a nice little thrills marathon, line up the next two books, Inspector of the Dead and Ruler of the Night—where you get a murder on the brand new railways!
Opium and Absinthe
Kang writes great historical mysteries that feel like will-there-or-won’t-there-be-fantasy. Like, is it everyday murder or vampire murder? That’s what Tillie Pembroke is left asking after her sister is murdered in the street, drained of her blood. In New York City, 1899, Pembroke is trying to heal from a broken bone and finds herself unknowingly addicted to pain medication, grieving her sister, reading Dracula, and trying to make sense of the life she wants and the one that is being planned for her. Enter late night escapes to explore the city with a newsie but that only gets her labeled a hysterical woman and pumped with more drugs. She’ll have to get a hold of her addiction, and outwit everyone around her, if she wants to solve the murder of her sister… Bonus: Kang has a great backlist of historical mystery titles especially perfect for fans of medical history.
by James Patterson
by Andrew Gross
For Patterson fans looking for page-turning thrills here's one set in 1096 France. Upon his return from the Crusades, Hugh de Luc finds that his son has been murdered and his wife kidnapped. What’s a man to do? Avenge his son’s death and search for his wife by posing as a Jester, of course. If you’re looking for a medieval revenge tale, here you go!
A Study in Scarlet Women
Looking for mystery, history, adventure, and love Sherlock? Have I got the perfect series for you. Charlotte Holmes basically blows up her social standing and ends up solving mysteries under the name Sherlock Holmes—as a lady must do. This is a very smartly written and executed gender swapping of Sherlock Holmes filled with murder, scandal (!), of course Watson, desserts, adventure, action, and witty dialogue. A series to love, and perfect for fans of Deanna Raybourn’s Veronica Speedwell series.
Related: More Amateur Sleuths Saving the Day
Joe R. Lansdale
Looking for historical thrills and love a western? With his mentor dead Young Willie changes his name to Nat Love, to honor his mentor, and leaves his small Texas town, heading west. Landing in Deadwood, South Dakota Territory, Nat becomes a Buffalo Soldier and has a bit of a name change again when he’s nicknamed Deadwood Dick—for reasons. But the man he once fled, avoiding a lynching, will resurface...This is the fictional memoir tale of a man born a slave and how he became the legendary Deadwood Dick. Adventures abound!
Going only slightly back in time, O’Malley’s novel is set in 1950’s Boston, where the War has ended and the largest robbery in the history of the United States, the Great Brink's Robbery, has recently taken place. Now Cal O'Brien and Dante Cooper, struggling to find their place in the world, decide to solve who murdered the latest victim in a string of serial killer killings targeting women. For Dante it’s personal since it was his sister-in-law. But what happens when the case leads to the highest ranks of city government and suddenly people don’t want this case solved?
What to Read Next
Jamie Canavés is a Book Riot contributing editor and Tailored Book Recommendations coordinator. She writes the Unusual Suspects mystery newsletter, never says no to chocolate or ‘80s nostalgia, and can hold a conversation using only gifs. Tweets: @Oh_Dinky.