100 books like An Excellent Mystery

By Ellis Peters,

Here are 100 books that An Excellent Mystery fans have personally recommended if you like An Excellent Mystery. Shepherd is a community of 10,000+ authors and super readers sharing their favorite books with the world.

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Book cover of Her Royal Spyness

Harini Nagendra Author Of The Bangalore Detectives Club

From my list on historical crime books with spunky women protagonists.

Why am I passionate about this?

I’m an ecologist who loves history. I love incorporating elements from the past in my non-fiction and fiction writing. I’ve learnt so much about parts of the world I have never visited from historical mysteries, especially those with strong female characters. My grandmother, born in 1907 during the British Raj, fought just to go to school. I love books that offer an insight into the lives and thoughts of fierce, feisty women like her, everyday women who did extraordinary things. Each of the books I’ve selected is the first in a series, and I hope they give you endless hours of reading pleasure, just as they did for me.

Harini's book list on historical crime books with spunky women protagonists

Harini Nagendra Why did Harini love this book?

Who wouldn’t love a fun book about royals and murder?

Lady Victoria Georgiana Charlotte Eugenie, Georgie for short, is waaay down the line of people to inherit, 34th in the queue, to be precise. And she’s flat broke. Thrown out of the Scotland castle that is her childhood home by her greedy sister-in-law, Georgie cleans homes in secret to earn a bit of money.

Things are just beginning to look up when she finds a dead Frenchman in her bathtub! If being suspected of murder is not enough, she’s also been given a job by the Queen to spy on the playboy Prince of Wales.

Georgie is irrepressible and full of spunk. She’s clumsy, makes mistakes, and fails often, but never gives up. A most relatable heroine.

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 FIRST ROYAL SPYNESS MYSTERY!

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...


Book cover of The Face of a Stranger

Jeanne M. Dams Author Of Murder in the Park

From my list on historical mysteries that make the period 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!

Jeanne's book list on historical mysteries that make the period come alive

Jeanne M. Dams Why did Jeanne 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?

3 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 The Case of the Murdered Muckraker

Jeanne M. Dams Author Of Murder in the Park

From my list on historical mysteries that make the period 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!

Jeanne's book list on historical mysteries that make the period come alive

Jeanne M. Dams Why did Jeanne 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 Author Of Murder in the Park

From my list on historical mysteries that make the period 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!

Jeanne's book list on historical mysteries that make the period come alive

Jeanne M. Dams Why did Jeanne 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 One Corpse Too Many

Elizabeth Flynn Author Of Game, Set and Murder

From my list on unravelling knotty murder mysteries.

Why am I passionate about this?

I’ve always enjoyed murder mysteries, with spy novels coming a very close second. I like the puzzle aspect of the story and the unravelling thereof. From early in my childhood I have written and it has never occurred to me to write in any other genre than Crime Fiction. I do like, however, both in my own output and that which I read, to gain an insight into other people’s lives and histories. I like to learn about the surroundings in which the stories are set. Also, for me a must, the characters have to be rounded and three dimensional.

Elizabeth's book list on unravelling knotty murder mysteries

Elizabeth Flynn Why did Elizabeth love this book?

This is the second in a murder series with a historical slant. Brother Cadfael, ex-crusading soldier-turned-monk is an intriguing character in himself. He runs the monastery’s herb garden in Shrewsbury in 12th Century England. When he is asked to bury 94 bodies of people who died because of the fighting between King Stephen and Empress Maud, he discovers a total of 95 corpses and realises that a very clever murder is lurking in the town.  

By Ellis Peters,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked One Corpse Too Many as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Brother Cadfael discovers a murder amid the wreckage of Shrewsbury Castle in this mystery series featuring “a colorful and authentic medieval background” (Publishers Weekly).

In the summer of 1138, war between King Stephen and the Empress Maud takes Brother Cadfael from the quiet world of his garden into a battlefield of passions, deceptions, and death. Not far from the safety of the abbey walls, Shrewsbury Castle falls, leaving its ninety-four defenders loyal to the empress to hang as traitors. With a heavy heart, Brother Cadfael agrees to bury the dead, only to make a grisly discovery: one extra victim that…


Book cover of The Summer of the Danes

Tracey Warr Author Of Daughter of the Last King

From my list on reads in idiosyncratic bookshops and lovely libraries.

Why am I passionate about this?

I love a library, an eccentric bookshop, or the roadside book exchange cupboards where I live in rural southwest France. There is serendipity and synergy in what can be found through browsing (as opposed to purposeful searching). I am the author of five historical novels set in medieval Europe and centred on strong female leads. Idiosyncratic bookshops and lovely libraries bring unexpected twists to my research and writing. My six-year-old grandson recently started to read after his mum and I read many bedtime stories to him. It was a thrilling moment to hear him join the ranks of readers. Writing is inspired by and learned from voracious reading. 

Tracey's book list on reads in idiosyncratic bookshops and lovely libraries

Tracey Warr Why did Tracey love this book?

Found at Animal Kitchen Bookshop in Narberth, Wales, which has now, sadly, disappeared.

A bookshop that looked like a pet shop from the outside and was piled high with books in absolutely no order inside. After an hour’s happy trawling, I asked the owner if he had any Ellis Peters.

He fished out a box from under his desk and I took as many as I could carry.

This is my favourite Cadfael medieval murder mystery because of its setting in Gwynedd Wales and the appearance of Cadwaladr, who I was very interested in researching at the time.

Like my Welsh trilogy, The Summer of the Danes is set during ‘The Anarchy’, the civil war between King Stephen and Empress Matilda.

By Ellis Peters,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

In the summer of 1144, a strange calm has settled over England. The armies of King Stephen and Empress Maud have temporarily exhausted each other. Brother Cadfael considers peace a blessing, but a little excitement never comes amiss to a former soldier and Cadfael is delighted to accompany his young friend, Brother Mark, on a mission of church diplomacy to his native Wales, not expecting to be caught up in yet another royal feud. The Welsh prince Owain Gwynedd has banished his brother Cadwaladr, accusing him of the treacherous murder of an ally. The reckless Cadwaldr has retaliated by landing…


Book cover of Matilda: Empress, Queen, Warrior

Elizabeth Norton Author Of Elfrida: The First Crowned Queen of England

From my list on England’s medieval queens.

Why am I passionate about this?

I have been fascinated by England’s medieval queens since picking up a copy of Norah Lofts’ Queens of Britain as a child. I studied Archaeology at the universities of Cambridge and Oxford, focussing on the Anglo-Saxons. While my PhD and later work primarily focuses on the Tudor period, I have remained passionate about medieval queenship, writing the first biography of Queen Elfrida, as well as a longer book, England’s Queens, containing mini-biographies of every woman who served as reigning queen, consort or king’s wife. It has been a pleasure to share my top picks (from amongst many other wonderful titles), which I feel really bring England’s medieval queens to life.

Elizabeth's book list on England’s medieval queens

Elizabeth Norton Why did Elizabeth love this book?

There is no better place to start this list than with Empress Matilda, England’s first reigning queen. Matilda, who vied for the English throne against her cousin, King Stephen, has always been a personal favourite of mine. She came tantalisingly close, in 1141, to securing her coronation and recognition of her rule. I was therefore very excited to read Catherine Hanley’s expertly written biography. I love the detail given on Matilda’s actions, with Hanley’s research impeccably detailed. This is one of the most valuable accounts of the life of an early English monarch.

By Catherine Hanley,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

A life of Matilda-empress, skilled military leader, and one of the greatest figures of the English Middle Ages

"[Matilda] will attract a growing audience interested in stories of women challenging the male-dominated European past."-Alexandra Locking, Medieval Review

"A lively and authoritative account."-Katherine Harvey, Times Literary Supplement

Matilda was a daughter, wife, and mother. But she was also empress, heir to the English crown-the first woman ever to hold the position-and an able military general.

This new biography explores Matilda's achievements as military and political leader, and sets her life and career in full context. Catherine Hanley provides fresh insight into…


Book cover of A Mortal Bane

Cara Hogarth Author Of My Lady of the Whip

From my list on medieval sexuality.

Why am I passionate about this?

Cara Hogarth emigrated from England to Australia as a child, but always wished she hadn’t. So she studied medieval history at university in order to travel back in time and place. Now that she’s bagged a PhD (on Chaucer’s raunchy Wife of Bath), she prefers to write historical fiction in order to truly immerse herself and her readers in the past. She finds academic history a fantastic inspiration for her fiction writing, but is always seeking out historical novels that hit just the right balance between research, humor, and page-turning plot. Warning: her novels can get quite steamy!

Cara's book list on medieval sexuality

Cara Hogarth Why did Cara love this book?

A medieval murder mystery set in a brothel! Prostitution was one of the few ways in which a woman might earn an independent living in the Middle Ages.

Not that I’m recommending it as a career choice, mind you. Roberta Gellis has created quite the unusual whorehouse under her unfortunately beautiful Madam, Magdalene. Her employees include a blind woman, a mute Saracen, a woman of childlike intelligence, and the brothel’s cook too is deaf. Magdalene herself was accused of murder and has to live in disguise.

This is a wonderfully well-researched historical mystery that illuminates the circumstances that might force a medieval woman into prostitution. 

By Roberta Gellis,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked A Mortal Bane as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Roberta Gellis, acclaimed author of The Roselynde Chronicles, brings medieval London to life--and death--with her latest tale of splendor and squalor. Magdalene la Bâtarde is the madam of the Old Priory Guesthouse in Southwark. She and her women are expected to engage in a number of sinful delights, but bloody murder isn't one of them--until Baldassare, the messenger, dies.

Though Baldassare wasn't a regular client of the Old Priory Guesthouse, Magdalene and her women refuse to allow his death to go unavenged. Of course, their efforts aren't completely altruistic. Chances are if they don't find the killer, they will be…


Book cover of The Pillars of the Earth

Why am I passionate about this?

I’ve been fascinated by history since I was eight. I remember reading through the biography section of my grade school library, cleaning out the names from the Revolution, the Civil War, famous pioneers, and the Wild West. I also had some unbelievable professors in college. One of my first courses was entitled “The World Since 1919.”  It began with Herman Muller blinking in the Hall of Mirrors as he signed the Treaty of Versailles. The course material took us from that moment until the morning news on the last day of class. We learned that history isn’t about the past but how we came to the present.

J.'s book list on books that sweep through time and immerse you in a story so compelling that you don’t even realize you’re learning about history

J. Boyce Gleason Why did J. love this book?

Despite his success as a spy/thriller novelist, Ken Follett had trouble finding a publisher when he tried his hand at historical fiction. Fortunately, he persisted and published this book, which outsold every novel he'd ever written.

When it was first released, my wife refused to let me read it as I was in the midst of writing my own book. “It’s too similar to your story,” she said. It may throw you off.” Although set several centuries after my book's story, the world had changed little and featured similar conflicts between pagans and the church. Where my book tells the story of what happens to Charles Martel's family upon his death, Pillars tells the story of Britain after the loss of a host of nobles, including the heir to the British throne, on a boat that sank in the English Channel. 

It's a great book, a fun read, and it…

By Ken Follett,

Why should I read it?

17 authors picked The Pillars of the Earth as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

#1 New York Times Bestseller

Oprah's Book Club Selection

The "extraordinary . . . monumental masterpiece" (Booklist) that changed the course of Ken Follett's already phenomenal career-and begins where its prequel, The Evening and the Morning, ended.

"Follett risks all and comes out a clear winner," extolled Publishers Weekly on the release of The Pillars of the Earth. A departure for the bestselling thriller writer, the historical epic stunned readers and critics alike with its ambitious scope and gripping humanity. Today, it stands as a testament to Follett's unassailable command of the written word and to his universal appeal.

The…


Book cover of Stephen: The Reign of Anarchy

Marc Morris Author Of The Anglo-Saxons: A History of the Beginnings of England

From my list on medieval Britain.

Why am I passionate about this?

I fell into medieval history from the moment I arrived at university, when I looked at a lecture list that included the Norman Conquest, King John and Magna Carta, Edward I – in short, the subjects of the books I have gone on to write. The attraction for me was that the medieval centuries were formative ones, shaping the countries of the British Isles and the identities of the people within them. After completing my doctorate on the thirteenth-century earls of Norfolk I was keen to broaden my horizons, and presented a TV series about castles, which was a great way to reconnect with the reality of the medieval past.

Marc's book list on medieval Britain

Marc Morris Why did Marc love this book?

The reign of King Stephen (1135–1154) was characterized by chaos and disorder, as he and his cousin Matilda fought over the succession to the English throne. This makes it a challenge to offer a coherent account, but Carl Watkins succeeds where others have failed in his short history of Stephen’s reign. The whole book, minus its academic endnotes, runs to under 90 pages, but it packs a considerable punch, thanks to Watkins’ elegant and enviable prose style. 

By Carl Watkins,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

'Stephen risked being seen as a man who never quite transcended the essential flawed-ness of his claim to be king. His actions betrayed uneasiness in his new skin'

Remembered as a time in which 'Christ and his saints slept', Stephen's troubled reign plunged England into anarchy. Without clear rules of succession in the Norman monarchy, conflict within William the Conqueror's family was inevitable. But, as this resonant portrait shows, there was another problem too: Stephen himself, unable to make good the transition from nobleman to king.


5 book lists we think you will like!

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