The best medieval murders and mysteries in fiction

Why am I passionate about this?

After enjoying Josephine Tey’s wonderful Daughter of Time, in which she exonerates Richard III from the crime of murdering the princes in the tower, followed by the Brother Cadfael mysteries, I became hooked on historical crimes and decided to try writing them myself! It was quite a challenge researching both the history and the settings from Australia, but the novels became a wonderful excuse for lengthy visits to travel around Great Britain and France. As well as writing the Janna Chronicles, my passion for history has also prompted several other published novels and series, including the Shalott trilogy.


I wrote...

Blood Oath

By Felicity Pulman,

Book cover of Blood Oath

What is my book about?

A young woman, alone and on the run in a medieval kingdom at war, goes in search of her unknown father, hoping to avenge her mother’s murder with his help. In this six-book series, Janna follows the clues as she flees from forest to farm, to abbey, Stonehenge, and, finally, to the royal court at Winchester.  Along her journey she solves many crimes and mysteries, including the secrets of her birth, and of her heart. Torn between love and duty, Janna is forced to take sides in the bitter fight for the crown between King Stephen and Empress Matilda: a decision that could keep her safe – but break her heart. 

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The books I picked & why

Book cover of A Morbid Taste for Bones

Felicity Pulman Why did I love this book?

I loved this series featuring Brother Cadfael, a herbalist and healer at Shrewsbury Abbey who solves crimes and mysteries at the time of the civil war between King Stephen and Empress Matilda mid-12th century. Both his character and that period of history inspired my Janna Chronicles. Once a warrior and crusader, Brother Cadfael is more worldly than the other Brothers, so is at home solving crimes both within the abbey and in the ‘world outside’ along with his friend, Hugh Beringar, Deputy Sheriff of Shrewsbury. In this series, I learned a lot about the medieval treatment of disease, and also picked up clues on how to solve murders and mysteries without the benefit of modern technology! 

By Ellis Peters,

Why should I read it?

6 authors picked A Morbid Taste for Bones as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

In the gentle Shrewsbury spring of 1140 the midnight matins at the Benedictine abbey suddenly reverberates with an unholy sound - a hunt in full cry. Pursued by a drunken mob, the quarry is running for its life. When the frantic creature bursts into the nave to claim sanctuary, Brother Cadfael finds himself fighting off armed townsmen to save a terrified young man. Accused of robbery and murder is Liliwin, a wandering minstrel who performed at the wedding of the local goldsmith's son. But his supposed victim, the miserly craftsman, is still alive, although a strongbox lies empty. Brother Cadfael…


Book cover of Fortune Like the Moon (Hawkenlye Mysteries)

Felicity Pulman Why did I love this book?

Because my character Janna seeks refuge in an abbey while on her quest to find her father, I found it interesting and instructive to read about Abbess Helewise and life at Hawkenlye Abbey in more detail. I also enjoyed trying to second-guess whodunit as the Abbess and her helpmate, lord of the manor, Josse d’Acquin, solve the many crimes that come their way. And I was intrigued by the supernatural elements introduced by Alys Clare, with the abbey being situated so close to the ancient forest in the Great Weald, and how the two worlds often intertwine. 

By Alys Clare,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Fortune Like the Moon (Hawkenlye Mysteries) as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Shortly before his unexpected coronation, King Richard passed a law letting all of England's prisoners go free. Shortly afterwards a young nun is found, gruesomely murdered. Richard swiftly employs an old military colleague of his, Josse d'Acquin, to unravel this hideous mystery. Who could have wanted to kill this innocent young novice, and, more worryingly, why?

Josse goes to Hawkenlye Abbey to find out the answers to these questions. He is having little success until meets the Abbess Helewise, a woman who quickly proves herself to be his equal, both as an amateur sleuth, and as a figure the community…


Book cover of The Queen's Man

Felicity Pulman Why did I love this book?

Bastard-born Justin de Quincy becomes ‘the Queen’s Man’ after carrying an important letter from a dying man to Eleanor of Aquitaine. He is charged by Eleanor to keep her son John out of mischief and thwart his efforts to become king while she sets about raising the ransom money to bail Richard the Lionheart out of his prison in Austria. As a roving trouble-shooter, Justin is supported by the under-sheriff of Hampshire and a sergeant, Jonas, but things become complicated after he falls for the Lady Claudine, who is close to John, while the Queen’s double agent, Durant, also poses a threat. I enjoyed reading about all the intrigues of the court as Justin solves crimes and murders. 

By Sharon Kay Penman,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked The Queen's Man as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

England, 1193: a land rife with rumours about the fate of its missing king. Justin de Quincy travels from Winchester to London. With a promise to a dying man, he is plunged into the conspiracy surrounding the disappearence of Richard the Lionheart, and under oath to reveal the truth to the Queen.


Book cover of A Plague on Both Your Houses

Felicity Pulman Why did I love this book?

Set in Cambridge in the 14th century, Matthew Bartholomew is a doctor trying to instill knowledge into his students while surviving the rigours of life in an under-funded college, and the censure of fellow physicians who still believe in astrological charts, and who dismiss Matthew’s new-fangled notions of cleanliness. Although keen to focus on his students and his studies, Matthew invariably becomes involved in the town vs gown troubles, along with murders and mysteries when his help is invoked by the Proctor, Brother Michael. Great reads about life in a university town along with medieval medical practice.

By Susanna Gregory,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked A Plague on Both Your Houses as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

For the twentieth anniversary of the Matthew Bartholomew series, Sphere is delighted to reissue the first three books with beautiful new series-style covers. Matthew Bartholomew, unorthodox but effective physician to Michaelhouse college in medieval Cambridge, is as worried as anyone about the pestilence that is ravaging Europe and seems to be approaching England. But he is distracted by the sudden and inexplicable death of the Master of Michaelhouse - a death the University authorities do not want investigated. But Matt is determined to get to the truth, leading him into a tangle of lies and intrigue that cause him to…


Book cover of Dissolution

Felicity Pulman Why did I love this book?

Set during and after the reign of Henry VIII, this series features the hunchback lawyer, Matthew Shardlake. First employed by Cromwell, he is sent to Scarnsea to solve the murder of a commissioner sent to ‘persuade’ the abbot to surrender the abbey during the dissolution of the monasteries. The seven novels in the series chart Shardlake’s shifting fortunes as his allegiance shifts from Cromwell to Henry and his last wife, Catherine Parr, and finally to the Lady Elizabeth and her advisor, the wily William Cecil. The crimes are carefully plotted, the characters keep you guessing, and the series presents a detailed and compelling view of these tumultuous times. An excellent read! 

By C.J. Sansom,

Why should I read it?

14 authors picked Dissolution as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Awarded the CWA Diamond Dagger - the highest honor in British crime writing

From the bestselling author of Winter in Madrid and Dominion comes the exciting and elegantly written first novel in the Matthew Shardlake Tudor Mystery series

Dissolution is an utterly riveting portrayal of Tudor England. The year is 1537, and the country is divided between those faithful to the Catholic Church and those loyal to the king and the newly established Church of England. When a royal commissioner is brutally murdered in a monastery on the south coast of England, Thomas Cromwell, Henry VIII's feared vicar general, summons…


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The Last Whaler

By Cynthia Reeves,

Book cover of The Last Whaler

Cynthia Reeves Author Of The Last Whaler

New book alert!

Why am I passionate about this?

Author Arctic adventurer Eternal optimist Unrealistic realist Foodie Teacher

Cynthia's 3 favorite reads in 2023

What is my book about?

This book is an elegiac meditation on the will to survive. Tor, a beluga whaler, and his wife, Astrid, a botanist specializing in Arctic flora, are stranded during the dark season of 1937-38 at his remote whaling station in the Svalbard archipelago when they misjudge ice conditions and fail to rendezvous with the ship meant to carry them back to their home in southern Norway. 

Beyond enduring the Arctic winter’s twenty-four-hour night, the couple must cope with the dangers of polar bears, violent storms, and bitter cold, as well as Astrid’s unexpected pregnancy.

The Last Whaler concerns the impact of…

The Last Whaler

By Cynthia Reeves,

What is this book about?

The Last Whaler is an elegiac meditation on the will to survive under extreme conditions. Tor, a beluga whaler, and his wife, Astrid, a botanist specializing in Arctic flora, are stranded during the dark season of 1937-38 at his remote whaling station when they misjudge ice conditions and fail to rendezvous with the ship meant to carry them back to their home in southern Norway. Beyond enduring the Arctic winter's twenty-four-hour night, the couple must cope with the dangers of polar bears, violent storms, and bitter cold as well as Astrid's unexpected pregnancy. The Last Whaler concerns the impact of…


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