The best historical murder mysteries to challenge your brain cells

Why am I passionate about this?

Many years ago, when I’d read my first medieval mystery, I decided I wanted to write my own. But mine would be as realistic as I could manage; I wanted the reader to smell medieval London and to be there with me. A lot had been written about Kings and Queens but not much about ordinary life so that became the center of my academic study leading eventually to my Master's Degree in medieval medicine. As well as my novels I now write popular factual books and I’m pleased to say people have taken the time to say how much they enjoy the fine details I share.


I wrote...

The Colour of Bone

By Toni Mount,

Book cover of The Colour of Bone

What is my book about?

In fifteenth-century London, a nun’s body is found in a tomb but it’s clear she didn’t die until after the lid was closed. When a member of the Duke of Gloucester’s household goes missing, Seb Foxley, our artist-cum-sleuth, must use his sharp eye to unravel the mysteries as murder and arson prowl the grimy streets. But a man returns from the dead and Seb has to appear in court, creating trauma for the Foxley household. Join Seb as he feasts with royalty, struggles to save his business, and attempts to solve the latest crimes in the medieval city.  

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The books I picked & why

Book cover of The Merry Devils

Toni Mount Why did I love this book?

Forget Shakespeare. Nicholas Bracewell and Lord Westfield’s Men are a far more intriguing introduction to Elizabethan theatre. I was there, watching the rehearsals, hearing the applause, and enjoying the play as murder was committed, literally, behind the scenes.

With a bit of alchemy, madness, and passion thrown into the mix, if you love the Elizabethan period this is a not-to-be-missed historical mystery as Nicholas pits his wits against the devil himself. 

By Edward Marston,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked The Merry Devils as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

He had the power to assume a pleasing shape, but would he take to the stage . . . ?

The audience was merry indeed when a third devilish imp bounded onstage to join the two that had been written into the script. But backstage all was uproar. The third demon seemed too much like the real thing. Even Nicholas Bracewell, the company mainstay, was shaken when, next time the play was given, only one devil appeared. The second, poor fellow, was now only a little red heap backstage. Murdered.

Before the curtain rose again, Lord Westfield's Men would suffer…


Book cover of Monk's-Hood: The Third Chronicle of Brother Cadfael

Toni Mount Why did I love this book?

A real classic whodunnit and an old-school case of poisoning.

I loved every word of Ellis Peter’s third book in her Brother Cadfael series, taking me back to the turbulent times of King Stephen and the Empress Matilda in the twelfth century – a period I find intriguing. And with the wise and friendly Cadfael, the abbey’s herbalist and unraveller of dastardly deeds to guide the reader, I was hooked from the start.

And what happens when a celibate monk encounters an old flame? Do sparks fly? I couldn’t wait to find out. Cadfael is a proper page turner. 

By Ellis Peters,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Monk's-Hood as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Brother Cadfael, Benedictine monk and self-appointed detective of Shrewsbury Abbey, defends a young man accused of poisoning his stepfather, a guest at the abbey, and pursues several seemingly obscure clues to expose the murderer


Book cover of Dark Fire

Toni Mount Why did I love this book?

This is the second Matthew Shardlake adventure from the pen of a master craftsman, set at the time of Henry VIII.

I was embroiled in danger alongside the lawyer as he fights to save a girl accused of murder from the hangman’s noose and recover a long-lost ancient secret. I learned that the intriguing machinations going on in a Tudor court of law are as shifty and tangled as those at the royal court in Whitehall.

I visited many a seedy London tavern with side-kick Barak during that searing hot summer of 1540, smelling the sour stink of sweaty humanity as the body count increased and met Shardlake’s nemesis, Richard Rich. Brilliant stuff!    

By C.J. Sansom,

Why should I read it?

4 authors picked Dark Fire as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

When a friend's niece is charged with murder and threatened with torture for her refusal to speak, 1540 lawyer Matthew Sharklake is granted an unexpected two-week reprieve to investigate the case if he will also accept a dangerous assignment to find a legendary weapon of mass destruction. By the author of Dissolution. 25,000 first printing.


Book cover of Prince Edward's Warrant

Toni Mount Why did I love this book?

Mel Starr is an American author who deserves to be better known for his Chronicles of Hugh de Singleton set in late fourteenth-century England.

Hugh is a surgeon as well as bailiff of Brampton. In this eleventh tale, Hugh is escorted to Kensington Palace, his expertise required to treat the ailing Black Prince. But I knew things had to get more serious than that and, sure enough, murder is committed.

Mel Starr’s research is impeccable and I found myself in the heart of medieval England, encountering royalty, rogues, and worse villains. But Hugh’s medical knowledge means he can tell an accident from a deliberate killing and there’s no deceiving him when he’s on a murderer’s trail.

By Mel Starr,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Prince Edward's Warrant as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

'Another delightful and absorbing mystery from Mel Starr, keeping the reader guessing as the corpses pile up in Prince Edward's palace. Hugh de Singleton, of the dry wit and engaging humility, is one of my favourite sleuths.' Penelope Wilcock, British author and blogger

Master Hugh won the Black Prince's favour when he helped to ease the Prince's illness.

Now, in the autumn of 1372, the prince is suffering a relapse and sends to Bampton for Master Hugh to attend him. While at dinner in Kennington Palace, Sir Giles, the knight who escorted Hugh to London, is stricken and dies. Poison!…


Book cover of The Bookseller's Tale

Toni Mount Why did I love this book?

Again, we are in the fourteenth century, in Oxford, but following the first terrible onslaught of the Black Death. The title made this a must-read for me because my own sleuth, Seb Foxley, is involved with the making and selling of books, just like Ann Swinfen’s hero, Nicholas Elyot. I wasn’t disappointed.

The characters came alive for me and I too was sad when a good student was found drowned in the river. But the bookseller is suspicious and uncovers a villainous plot, putting him, his family and friends in danger.

A beautifully-woven medieval mystery; I had to read it in one go – forget the washing up. Fortunately, this is book 1 of the Oxford Medieval Mysteries so there’s more fun to come.

By Ann Swinfen,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

Oxford, Spring 1353. When young bookseller Nicholas Elyot discovers the body of student William Farringdon floating in the river Cherwell, it looks like a drowning. Soon, however, Nicholas finds evidence of murder. Who could have wanted to kill this promising student? As Nicholas and his scholar friend Jordain try to unravel what lies behind William’s death, they learn that he was innocently caught up in a criminal plot. When their investigations begin to involve town, university, and abbey, Nicholas takes a risky gamble – and puts his family in terrible danger.


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Rip Current

By Sharon Ward,

Book cover of Rip Current

Sharon Ward Author Of In Deep

New book alert!

Why am I passionate about this?

Even as a kid, I was intrigued by the underwater world, so as an adult, I learned to scuba dive. I took to it like a fish to water, and my husband and I spent the next several years traveling to tropical islands to experience the local dive conditions whenever possible. I loved learning how every island had a different culture and a different undersea environment. Since I love tropical islands, scuba diving, mysteries, and adventure stories, these books really hit my sweet spot.

Sharon's book list on mysteries set on a tropical island

What is my book about?

Unsettled weather has caused life-threatening rip currents to sprout up seemingly at random in the usually tranquil sea around Grand Cayman. Despite posted warnings to stay out of the surf, several women lose their life when caught in the turbulent waters. Fin attempts some dangerous rescues, and nearly loses her own life in the process.

Meanwhile, Fin and the team at RIO are struggling to find more sources of funding for the Institute’s important research, and danger arises from an unexpected source while Fin and hot movie star Rafe Cummings are filming an upcoming documentary. When a young internet influencer…

Rip Current

By Sharon Ward,

What is this book about?

Unsettled weather has caused life-threatening rip currents to sprout up seemingly at random in the usually tranquil sea around Grand Cayman. Despite posted warnings to stay out of the surf, several women lose their life when caught in the turbulent waters. Fin attempts some dangerous rescues, and nearly loses her own life in the process.
Meanwhile, Fin and the team at RIO are struggling to find more sources of funding for the Institute’s important research, and danger arises from an unexpected source while Fin and hot movie star Rafe Cummings are filming an upcoming documentary.
Soon after a young internet…


5 book lists we think you will like!

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