The best historical mysteries that make the period and the people come alive

Why am I passionate about this?

I used to hate history, until I made the startling discovery that history wasn’t about dates and wars—the stuff we had to memorize in high school—but about people. And what can be more absorbing than people? When I started my first historical series, set in the very early 20th century in my hometown of South Bend, Indiana, I delved into the local newspaper and learned that the people of the time and their problems were very much like today’s. That pulled me in, and never let go. Now, researching the 1920s, I’m meeting people who might live next door. It’s so much fun!

I wrote...

Murder in the Park

By Jeanne M. Dams,

Book cover of Murder in the Park

What is my book about?

Murder in the Park began when I thought it would be fun to set a book in the Chicago area during prohibition. When I discovered that the very small nearby suburb of Oak Park was (then) so extremely conservative as to have a thriving chapter of the women’s Ku Klux Klan, haters of almost everyone but especially Catholics and foreigners, I could see some conflict with huge Chicago, at that time virtually owned by Al Capone, Italian Catholic gangster. So I proceeded to exploit that conflict. 

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The books I picked & why

Book cover of An Excellent Mystery

Jeanne M. Dams Why did I love this book?

I love all of Ellis Peters’ Brother Cadfael books for so many reasons.

One is the crisp excellence of writing, one is her illuminating description of her medieval setting, one is her endearing protagonist, one is her exceptional plotting. This particular title has a most intriguing plot and a thoroughly satisfying resolution.

I chose the book (which I have reread many times) with a satisfied smile. And finally, the books are set in the England I so love, even if her setting is 11 centuries ago. 

By Ellis Peters,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked An Excellent Mystery as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

In the year of our Lord 1141, August comes in golden as a lion, and two monks ride into the Benedictine abbey of Saint Peter and Saint Paul bringing with them disturbing news of war- and a mystery. The strangers tell how the strife between the Empress Maud and King Stephen has destroyed the town of Winchester and their priory. Now Brother Humilis, who is handsome, gaunt and very ill, and Brother Fidelis, youthful, comely- and mute- must seek refuge at Shrewsbury.

From the moment he meets them, Brother Cadfael senses that they are bound by something deeper than their…

Book cover of The Case of the Murdered Muckraker

Jeanne M. Dams Why did I love this book?

Again, I love this series featuring Daisy Dalrymple, and this is my favorite book of the series.

Set in the 1920s and essentially in England, this one takes Daisy to New York and then to Oregon—by plane! (No easy matter in 1923.)

The action is non-stop, the characters get themselves into the funniest predicaments, and the introduction of real people like Bessie Coleman helps to make the story real as today’s newspaper. 

By Carola Dunn,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked The Case of the Murdered Muckraker as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

In late 1923, the newly married Daisy Dalrymple and her husband Detective Chief Inspector Alec Fletcher of Scotland Yard, come to America for a honeymoon visit. In the midst of a pleasure trip, however, both work in a bit of business - Alec travels to Washington, D. C. to consult with the U.S. government, Daisy to New York to meet with her American magazine editor.

While in New York, Daisy stays at the famed Chelsea Hotel, which is not only close to the Flatiron Building offices of Abroad magazine, where she'll be meeting with her editor, but home to many…

Book cover of Death at Devil's Bridge

Jeanne M. Dams Why did I love this book?

I dearly loved the Robin Paige books and was so sorry when Susan and Bill Albert (the authors behind the pseudonym) stopped writing them.

These books were always entertaining and always provided me with a place where I wanted to live for a while with people I wanted to know.

Real people were always creeping into the story, in this case Messrs. Rolls and Royce, in a fictional account of their first meeting. So redolent of the time, late 1800s, and the place, coziest England.

A little witchcraft, a balloon race, an automobile race featuring a steamer, an electric, and a gasoline-powered auto—what could be more atmospheric, more fun, or more conducive of a fascinating murder?

By Robin Paige,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Death at Devil's Bridge as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Newlyweds Charles and Kate Sheridan have moved into Kate's ancestral Georgian home Bishop's Keep, where Kate plans to devote herself to her writing and Charles to the responsibilities of the landed gentry. He agrees to host an automobile exhibition and balloon race at Bishop's Keep attended by Europe's foremost investors and inventors, among them the young Mr. Charles Rolls and Henry Royce.

But speed, competition, and money prove to be more explosive than gasoline - and for one automobile builder, more deadly....

Book cover of The Face of a Stranger

Jeanne M. Dams Why did I love this book?

Anne Perry is too well known for me to add anything about her or her many books.

This particular one, though, the first in the William Monk series, intrigues me particularly because of the startling idea of a detective who doesn’t know who he is, knows nothing about his past. What a challenge to the writer!

Monk is understandably ill-tempered and extremely touchy, but this, oddly enough, makes him, for me, a sympathetic character.

As always, the brooding descriptions of Victorian London set the scene perfectly, and I was desperately hoping for Monk to resolve not only the crime but his personal problems. And, as with all books that I love, it’s beautifully written. 

By Anne Perry,

Why should I read it?

4 authors picked The Face of a Stranger as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

He is not going to die, after all, in this Victorian pesthouse called a hospital. But the accident that felled him on a London street has left him with only half a life, because his memory and his entire past have vanished. His name, they tell him, is William Monk, and he is a London police detective; the mirror reflects a face that women woud like, but he senses he has been more feared than loved.
Monk is given a particularly sensational case: the brutal murder of Major the Honourable Joscelin Grey, Crimean war hero and a popular man about…

Book cover of Her Royal Spyness

Jeanne M. Dams Why did I love this book?

This is a romp, no other word for it.

Lady Georgie is way down the list of heirs to the throne of England in the early 1930s. She is also flat broke and desperate for some way to earn money, with opportunities limited by her title and lineage. An Honorable can’t just wait tables in a tea shop!

Then Queen Mary asks her to spy on the Prince of Wales, who seems to be getting much too close to an American woman named Wallis Simpson. I do love it when real people wander into fiction! And these particular people—wow!

The trouble Georgie can get into is limitless and very, very funny! This series continues, and I’ve read every one of them. 

By Rhys Bowen,

Why should I read it?

5 authors picked Her Royal Spyness as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?


The New York Times bestselling author of the Molly Murphy and Constable Evan Evans mysteries turns her attentions to "a feisty new heroine to delight a legion of Anglophile readers."*

London, 1932. Lady Victoria Georgiana Charlotte Eugenie, 34th in line for the English throne, is flat broke. She's bolted Scotland, her greedy brother, and her fish-faced betrothed. London is a place where she'll experience freedom, learn life lessons aplenty, do a bit of spying for HRH-oh, and find a dead Frenchman in her tub. Now her new job is to clear her long family name...

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The Pact

By Lisa Darcy,

Book cover of The Pact

Lisa Darcy Author Of The Pact

New book alert!

Why am I passionate about this?

Author Cat lover Traveler Reader Amateur tennis player Foodie

Lisa's 3 favorite reads in 2023

What is my book about?

The Pact is a contemporary fiction novel about Australian sisters, Samantha and Annie, who are doubles tennis champions. This story amplifies the usual sibling issues and explores their professional partnership and personal relationships – similarities, differences, motivation, competition, abandonment, and grief – and how they each respond to the stress of constantly being under the media spotlight.

What happens when, at the pinnacle of fame, it all falls apart?

With dreams shattered and egos destroyed, how do they cope?

I have an older sister and although our rapport isn’t as dramatic, or as close, for that matter, I was able…

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