The best historical mysteries with women in non-traditional jobs

Why am I passionate about this?

I’ve been fascinated with historical fiction, especially the World War II era, ever since I listened to my mother playing her Big Band Records. I’ve also loved mysteries since I picked up my first Nancy Drew book. Once I discovered historical mysteries, I haven’t been able to separate the two. I’ve recently expanded my interest to include the first world war. There are so many great stories that I’m afraid I’ll never get to read them all. It was really hard to narrow down my list to five books and I hope you’ll love the ones I’ve chosen for you.

I wrote...

Death On A Deadline

By Joyce St. Anthony,

Book cover of Death On A Deadline

What is my book about?

As World War II rages in Europe and the Pacific, the small town of Progress is doing its part for the soldiers in the field with a war bond drive at the annual county fair. Town gossip Ava Dempsey rumors that Clark Gable will be among the participating stars. Instead of Gable, the headliner is Freddie Harrison, a B-movie star. When Freddie turns up dead in the dunk tank, Irene Ingram, editor-in-chief of The Progress Herald, starts chasing the real headline.

Irene discovers there’s more than one person who might have wanted Freddie dead. As Irene draws on her well-honed reporter’s instincts to find the killer—nothing is what it seems in Progress, and now her own deadline could be right around the corner.

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The books I picked & why

Book cover of The War Against Miss Winter

Joyce Tremel Why did I love this book?

This book was one of the first historical mysteries I read that was set during World War II.

I love the protagonist, Rosie. She is feisty and a bit of a smart aleck. I connected with her immediately. Rosie is an actress, and because parts are hard to come by during wartime, she finds work as a secretary for a private investigator. When he ends up dead, she takes the case to find out why.

By Kathryn Miller Haines,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked The War Against Miss Winter as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

It's 1943, and the war escalating in Europe and the Pacific seems far away. But for aspiring actress Rosie Winter, the war feels as if it were right in New York City—what with food rationing and frequent blackouts . . . and a boyfriend she hasn't heard word one from since he enlisted in the navy. Now her rent is coming due and she hasn't been cast in anything for six months. The factories are desperate for women workers, but Rosie the Thespian isn't about to become Rosie the Riveter, so she grabs a part-time job at a seamy, lowbrow…

Book cover of The Lessons We Learn: A Homefront Mystery

Joyce Tremel Why did I love this book?

This book is the third in Liz Milliron’s Homefront series. The protagonist, private detective wannabe Betty Ahern is worried because her friend, Lee Tillotson, is on the verge of being arrested for his father’s murder. Betty will do just about anything to prove his innocence before it’s too late.

I really like Betty’s can-do attitude and I love the support she gets from her family—especially her father. Even though she wants an unconventional career, her father knows she’s capable of anything she sets her mind to. It’s a wonderful book to show the importance of friends and family in chasing your dream.

By Liz Milliron,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

March 1943. As the Buffalo winter ends, the father of Betty Ahern's friend, Lee Tillotson, disappears. At first his absence is a relief, providing Lee, his mother and sisters refuge from the man's frequent drunken rages. But when Mr. Tillotson is discovered drowned in the Buffalo River and the police charge Lee with the murder, the family's newfound peace shatters.

Worse, Lee becomes secretive and unwilling to cooperate with Betty or the police. Betty is certain of Lee's innocence, but there she has very little time to investigate before he must enter his plea in court. To prove Lee's innocence,…

Book cover of His Majesty's Hope

Joyce Tremel Why did I love this book?

I adore this entire series, and especially this third book. Maggie Hope, who started out as a typist for Winston Churchill is now a full-blown spy for MI-5 and is sent to Germany.

I love seeing Maggie’s development throughout the series. Even when faced with what seem like insurmountable odds, she doesn’t give up. Maggie is the epitome of a woman working not only in a job that was likely considered “man’s work” but doing it splendidly.

By Susan Elia MacNeal,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked His Majesty's Hope as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

NEW YORK TIMES BESTSELLER • For fans of Jacqueline Winspear, Laurie R. King, and Anne Perry, whip-smart heroine Maggie Hope returns to embark on a clandestine mission behind enemy lines where no one can be trusted, and even the smallest indiscretion can be deadly.

World War II has finally come home to Britain, but it takes more than nightly air raids to rattle intrepid spy and expert code breaker Maggie Hope. After serving as a secret agent to protect Princess Elizabeth at Windsor Castle, Maggie is now an elite member of the Special Operations Executive—a black ops organization designed to…

Book cover of The Invisible Woman

Joyce Tremel Why did I love this book?

I love this book. Although it’s a novel, Virginia Hall was a real person. She was recruited by the Allies to be a spy.

The book is written in present tense—which I usually find distracting—but it works in this book. It really lends an air of immediacy to the story. My heart didn’t stop pounding through the entire book. Even though I knew the basics of Virginia Hall’s life, this novel really brings it to life. She was an extraordinary woman.

By Erika Robuck,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

“An extraordinary profile of immense courage and daring.”—Chanel Cleeton, New York Times bestselling author of Before We Left Cuba
“If you only read one WWII book this year, make it this one."—Natasha Lester, New York Times bestselling author of The Paris Orphans
In the depths of war, she would defy the odds to help liberate a nation…a gripping historical novel based on the remarkable true story of World War II heroine Virginia Hall, from the bestselling author of Hemingway’s Girl
France, March 1944. Virginia Hall wasn't like the other young society women back home in Baltimore—she never wanted the debutante…

Book cover of This Side of Murder

Joyce Tremel Why did I love this book?

This book is the first in the Verity Kent series set just after World War I in England.

Verity is a war widow and had worked for the Secret Service during the war. After declining an invitation to attend a party on a secluded island, she changes her mind when she receives a letter intimating that her husband had been a traitor. The partygoers are mostly former soldiers who had served under her husband.

This book has it all—a secluded island, many secrets, a storm, and a huge surprise. And I mean huge. Verity doesn’t know who she can trust but somehow manages to figure it all out. I’m way behind on reading this series but I mean to catch up soon!

By Anna Lee Huber,

Why should I read it?

2 authors picked This Side of Murder as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

A WWI widow investigates murder—and her late husband’s secrets—in “this engrossing series launch” by the Daphne Award-winning author (Publishers Weekly).
England, 1919. Verity Kent’s grief over the loss of her husband pierces anew when she receives a cryptic letter suggesting her beloved Sidney may have committed treason before his untimely death. Determined to dull her pain with revelry, Verity’s first impulse is to dismiss the claim. But the mystery sender knows too much—including the fact that during the war, Verity worked for the Secret Service, something not even Sidney knew. 
Lured to Umbersea Island to attend the engagement party of…

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Thorn City

By Pamela Statz,

Book cover of Thorn City

Pamela Statz

New book alert!

What is my book about?

Dressed to kill and ready to make rent, best friends Lisa and Jamie work as “paid to party” girls at the Rose City Ripe for Disruption gala, a gathering of Portland's elite.

Their evening is derailed when Lisa stumbles across Ellen, a ruthless politician and Lisa’s estranged mother. And to make matters worse, Lisa’s boyfriend, Patrick, crashes the party to meet his new boss, Portland's food cart drug kingpin. Lisa makes a fateful choice that traps her, Jamie, and Patrick in Ellen’s web. In this gripping thriller, Lisa must reconcile a painful past and perilous present.

Thorn City

By Pamela Statz,

What is this book about?

Suspected murder, eclectic food trucks, and artisanal cocaine: just another day in Thorn City.

It’s the night of the Rose City Ripe for Disruption gala—a gathering of Portland’s elite. Dressed to kill in sparkling minidresses, best friends Lisa and Jamie attend as “paid to party” girls. They plan an evening of fake flirtations, karaoke playlists, and of course, grazing the catering.

Past and present collide when Lisa stumbles across Ellen, a ruthless politician who also happens to be Lisa’s estranged mother. Awkward . . . When Lisa was sixteen, Ellen had her kidnapped and taken to the Lost Lake Academy—a…

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