The best historical detective fiction, exploring a mixture of fascinating historical fact with lively fiction

Who am I?

As a great reader from birth, I love books. I am a retired teacher of English literature and love history, particularly the medieval period, inspired by my love of Chaucer. I found my chosen authors entertaining, informative, and able to lead me into my happy place, unaware of my surroundings whilst reading. I read very fast, however, and none of them write fast enough for me so I started to write my own books. Words have the power to move, to excite, to console, to entertain. I hope anyone reading my chosen list will enjoy and may feel like exploring my own books.

I wrote...

A Quenchless Fire: The Second Sherborne Medieval Mystery

By Rosie Lear,

Book cover of A Quenchless Fire: The Second Sherborne Medieval Mystery

What is my book about?

This is the second book in the Matthias Barton Medieval mysteries series, set in Sherborne, Dorset. The young schoolmaster, Matthias Barton, finds himself involved with a seriously injured man and the fire which consumed part of Sherborne Abbey in 1437.

An injured soldier arrives on the scene bringing bad news to his friend, the Coroner, Sir Tobias Delaware. Matthias travels to France to discover the truth behind his message, meanwhile, the frustrated townspeople of Sherborne agitate against the haughty Abbot. Matthias encounters danger in Paris where the death of a young prostitute causes him both pain and shame. His return coincides with the uprising in Sherborne and the terrible wounding of the injured soldier to whom Matthias has offered shelter.

The books I picked & why

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The Apothecary Rose: The Owen Archer Series - Book One

By Candace Robb,

Book cover of The Apothecary Rose: The Owen Archer Series - Book One

Why this book?

Set in Medieval York I loved the detail of life in this book. The passion of Lucie Wilton, the apothecary’s wife is apparent and very real. Her anguish at his death and her guilt over her love for Owen Archer, her assistant incite pity and hunger in the reader. It taught me to try and include small details in my own writing and to make my characters come alive as Candace Robb does. I was truly hungry for the next book...and the next...and the next!

Owen Archer became a real fictional hero of mine.

Satan in St. Mary's

By Paul Doherty,

Book cover of Satan in St. Mary's

Why this book?

Another medieval setting, this time far more political, working with the crown, but eminently readable. Doherty’s love of history and his extensive knowledge are infused in this, the first Hugh Corbett Book.

The detail of the medieval streets of London, the smells, the violence, the intrigue, the patchwork of characters had me hooked from the beginning.

Hugh Corbett is a damaged soul at the beginning and grows with the pace of the book into a man with a purpose. His personal loneliness inspires pity and there is humour in his manservant Rafe picked from the condemned minutes before a hanging.

Hugh Corbett has become another fictional hero—I follow him through his many adventures and watch him grow.


By Maggie O'Farrell,

Book cover of Hamnet

Why this book?

This remarkable and moving book is a must for all Shakespeare lovers.

Set in Elizabethan times the narrator takes us through the eyes of the wife of Will Shakespeare without mentioning names. We are given a picture of a strange existence—a pregnancy outside marriage, devotion—and a sense of a deep love for the twins, Judith and Hamnet.

The death of Hamnet is heartbreaking in its intensity.

Read it! You won’t be able to put it down!

Master and God

By Lindsey Davis,

Book cover of Master and God

Why this book?

This lengthy story covering many years is set in Ancient Rome, during the reign of the despot Domitian. It follows two particular characters—a young hairdresser who has clients at the Imperial palace, and the scarred soldier devoted at first to the service of the Emporer.

The historical facts of Domitian’s reign of terror are very real and are set against the hard lives of our two main characters, the passion, the love, and sometimes the hate are very powerful.

Lyndsey Davis writes with humour, honesty, and some fine knowledge.

I have read this book over and over again, each time learning more and enjoying it freshly each time.

Love of Seven Dolls

By Paul Gallico,

Book cover of Love of Seven Dolls

Why this book?

This is my indulgence! My all-time favourite and definite pick me up if miserable.

Mouche, a discarded dancer, is about to throw herself Into the Seine.

Walking through the fair she passes a puppet booth, and these seven puppets engage her in conversation. They give her advice and she talks aloud to them as if they are real. Of course the actual voice comes from the puppeteer, an evil man who rapes her whilst at the same time talking to her through the puppets. This Dichotomy of good versus evil existing in just the one person is a lesson in the depths of despair, the depths of deprivation and the power of love. A hauntingly beautiful book.

5 book lists we think you will like!

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