The best mystery series set in Regency era England

Who am I?

I have been a mystery fan all my life and an avid reader of Regency fiction—from the mystery authors I’ve recommended to early Regency romance writers, including Jane Austen and Georgette Heyer. When I visited England a few years ago, I dragged my travel companion to all the Regency landmarks left standing and nearly missed a tour bus because I just had to see a Regency assembly room where their dances were held! When I switched from writing fantasy (under the pen name Ally Shields) to writing historical mysteries in 2019, I spent hundreds of hours devouring non-fiction books on this fascinating period of Prince George’s regency (1811-1820).

I wrote...

The Dead Betray None

By Janet L. Buck,

Book cover of The Dead Betray None

What is my book about?

England, 1811. Lucien, Viscount Ware, has recently returned from four years of spying for England on the Continent. Finding themselves restless in the world of the haut ton, he and his fellow agent Andrew Sherbourne agree to secret spy work for the Crown at home and are given the task of locating a stolen code, the key to unlocking Napoleon's war documents. 

Lady Anne Ashburn comes to London to retrieve her cousin's love letters from a blackmailer. Lucien and Lady Anne come face-to-face over a dead body at the Christmastide Ball. What follows—the risks they take, the intrusion of a notorious crime lord, society gossip, and good intentions gone awry—sends them spiraling into danger and potential disaster for England’s war effort.

The books I picked & why

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What Angels Fear: A Sebastian St. Cyr Mystery

By C.S. Harris,

Book cover of What Angels Fear: A Sebastian St. Cyr Mystery

Why this book?

This is my personal favorite of the Regency mystery series. The author is a thorough researcher weaving interesting details into her stories without large information dumps, and she is a master at creating relatable characters. Each plot has plenty of twists to keep you turning the pages.

In book one, Sebastian is accused of murdering a young woman and forced to evade the Bow Street Runners in order to prove his innocence. There is a fascinating group of minor characters who reoccur throughout the series. Don’t pass this one by.

The Hanover Square Affair

By Ashley Gardner,

Book cover of The Hanover Square Affair

Why this book?

Gardner's Captain Gabriel Lacey is a darker protagonist than the other books on my list. He returned from the Napoleonic wars with emotional demons and a war injury that has left him with a limp and chronic pain. Despite these drawbacks, he is getting by when he witnesses a man shot during a riot and offers to help. He learns the man's daughter is missing and gets a renewed sense of purpose. Lacey sets out to discover what happened to her, leading him into both the glittering and the seedy parts of London and into the acquaintance of a variety of characters.

Gardner has a true talent with characterization. Many of her minor characters live lifestyles that are removed from most readers' experiences, yet they are so well-drawn they are thought-provoking and understandable.

Cut to the Quick

By Kate Ross,

Book cover of Cut to the Quick

Why this book?

Kate Ross's books are unique in her choice of protagonist—outwardly a self-obsessed dandy rather than a hero—and in her deftness at creating the classic whodunit.

Although Julian Kestrel's ancestry is a bit vague, he clearly moves among the upper class with ease. After rescuing a young lord from a gaming hell, he is invited to a country house party. Unfortunately, he wakes up next to the body of a beautiful but very dead woman.

The only thing disappointing about this series is its shortness. The author passed away prematurely after writing only four books.

Murder on Black Swan Lane

By Andrea Penrose,

Book cover of Murder on Black Swan Lane

Why this book?

This series is more romance-oriented than the others on this list, yet putting two very different characters together made for some interesting dialogue and scenes. The series started a little slowly with a good story but little depth in the main characters (that improved in subsequent books).

The Earl of Wexford leads a rather reckless lifestyle which has led to a sharp exchange of words with the Rev. Holworthy. When the clergyman is murdered, Wexford comes under suspicion, a situation made worse by the cartoons of A.J. Quill depicting him as a demonic figure. Wexford tracks down the artist only to discover Quill is a widow, Charlotte Sloane. The two eventually agree to work together to discover the truth of what happened to Holworthy. A popular series.

The Anatomist's Wife

By Anna Lee Huber,

Book cover of The Anatomist's Wife

Why this book?

Technically written just after the true Regency period in England (1811-1820), the Lady Darby series has so much in common with Regency novels that it is usually included with those of the earlier era. However, it does have distinct differences. The main protagonist is not only a woman—but a woman who takes up her dead husband's unusual occupation as a human anatomist. She is shunned by polite society and retreats to her sister's home to spend her time painting. When a house guest is murdered, she is asked to use her skills to assist inquiry agent Sebastian Gage in finding the killer.

While book one has a few errors in language and historical detail, the main character is intriguing, and the author's skill in creating atmosphere will keep you reading. The early errors disappear as the series continues, and it is definitely one you should give a try.

5 book lists we think you will like!

Interested in murders, the upper class, and King George III?

5,716 authors have recommended their favorite books and what they love about them. Browse their picks for the best books about murders, the upper class, and King George III.

Murders Explore 331 books about murders
The Upper Class Explore 44 books about the upper class
King George III Explore 10 books about King George III

And, 3 books we think you will enjoy!

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