100 books like The Clerk's Tale

By Margaret Frazer,

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

Shepherd is reader supported. When you buy books, we may earn an affiliate commission.

Book cover of The Beekeeper's Apprentice

Bruce Stachenfeld Author Of Faythe of North Hinkapee: The Saga of a Young Woman’s Quest for Justice and Love in Colonial America

From my list on irrepressible, exciting and heroic female lead characters that you will never forget.

Why am I passionate about this?

I made up Faythe of North Hinkapee by being a jerk! I was ranting about how bad a "best seller" book I had read was. My wife looked at me and said, "So, could you write a bestseller?" I was challenged, and then, somehow, this book just tumbled out. It was about a girl in Colonial Timesher family burned as witchesvowing vengeance and how she gets it. My wife looked at me and said: “My God, that could be a bestseller!’ My kids also loved the story. For about twenty years, I planned to write it, and after a ton of work, I finally finished.

Bruce's book list on irrepressible, exciting and heroic female lead characters that you will never forget

Bruce Stachenfeld Why did Bruce love this book?

I was hooked in the first chapter when the protagonist, Mary Russell, meets Sherlock Holmes, who is retired. There – do I have to say more?

She is a young woman and Sherlock is, well, Sherlock, and yet she matches wits with him while they end up in the middle of a creative and a bit scary Sherlock Holmes-ish tale. I couldn’t wait to get and read the sequels.

By Laurie R. King,

Why should I read it?

6 authors picked The Beekeeper's Apprentice as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

In 1915, Sherlock Holmes is retired and quietly engaged in the study of honeybees when a young woman literally stumbles into him on the Sussex Downs. Fifteen years old, gawky, egotistical, and recently orphaned, the young Mary Russell displays an intellect to impress even Sherlock Holmes--and match him wit for wit. Under his reluctant tutelage, this very modern twentieth-century woman proves a deft protegee and a fitting partner for the Victorian detective. But even in their first case together, the pair face a truly cunning adversary who will stop at nothing to put an end to their partnership.


Book cover of The Ides of April

Lisa E. Betz Author Of Death and a Crocodile

From my list on female sleuth mysteries from centuries past.

Why am I passionate about this?

I’m an engineer-turned-mystery-writer, and my taste in fiction is as unconventional as my career. I love books set in obscure periods of the past, with underdog characters who rise to the occasion through cleverness and grit. I write the kind of books I love to read, which explains why I set my novels in ancient Rome. The engineer side of my brain thrives on doing historical research while my creative side imagines quirky, imperfect characters who find unconventional ways to solve tricky mysteries. I hope you enjoy my list of clever, spunky sleuths from various periods who solve murders in unique ways. 

Lisa's book list on female sleuth mysteries from centuries past

Lisa E. Betz Why did Lisa love this book?

Reading a Lindsey Davis novel is a guilty pleasure. Why? She’s wickedly funny. She brings ancient Rome to vivid life, from the fancy fringe on a tunic hem to the steaming pile of donkey dung in the street. Her sleuth, a tough, no-nonsense woman named Flavia Albia, is assisted (whether she likes it or not) by an extended family of eccentric and sometimes meddlesome characters. I also appreciate how Davis adds just enough historical detail to bring the plot to life without bogging down the action. 

In this book, I particularly enjoyed the interplay between Albia and the officious aedile, Manlius Faustus, who turns out to be nicer (and more interesting) than he first appeared. While each novel is stand-alone, I recommend starting here to get the full backstory.

By Lindsey Davis,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

Chosen by The Times as one of the Top Ten Crime Novels Written by Women since 2000

Flavia Albia is the adopted daughter of a famous investigating family. In defiance of tradition, she lives alone on the colourful Aventine Hill, and battles out a solo career in a male-dominated world. As a woman and an outsider, Albia has special insight into the best, and worst, of life in ancient Rome.

A female client dies in mysterious circumstances. Albia investigates and discovers there have been many other strange deaths all over the city, yet she is warned off by the authorities.…


Book cover of The Last Camel Died at Noon

Kathleen Kaska Author Of Murder at the Menger

From my list on lighthearted mystery series to laugh out loud.

Why am I passionate about this?

I read to relax and remind myself that life doesn’t have to be so difficult and serious. I’m a Texas writer who turned to writing humor as a way to deal with Catholic guilt issues. Growing up in a small Czech/Catholic community provided me with a lot of fodder on which to spin my stories. Add that to traveling the backroads across the country, pitching my tent in every state except Hawaii while keeping a journal, gave me even more to write about. I’ve written six humorous mysteries set in the 1950s, each in a different historic hotel. So kick back and enjoy the amusing books I’ve recommended.

Kathleen's book list on lighthearted mystery series to laugh out loud

Kathleen Kaska Why did Kathleen love this book?

Is there a better book title than The Last Camel Died at Noon? When I saw this book in the bookstore, I bought it instantly. What curious mind wouldn’t? I had to know the who, what, where, when, and why of this story. And to my delight, it was set in the early twentieth century in one of my favorite, exotic countries, Egypt. Archeologist couple Amelia Peabody and husband Radcliffe Emerson, are Nick and Nora Charles, Mary Russell and Sherlock Holmes, and Tommy and Tuppence Beresford all rolled into one. The Last Camel is the sixth book in Elizabeth Peter’s humorous, mystery series. I’ve read them all many times over. I recommended starting with the first book, Crocodile on the Sandbank

By Elizabeth Peters,

Why should I read it?

3 authors picked The Last Camel Died at Noon as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Join our plucky Victorian Egyptologist, together with her devastatingly handsome and brilliant husband Radcliffe, in another exciting escapade

This time Amelia and her dashing husband Emerson set off for a promising archaeological site in the Sudan, only to be unwillingly drawn into the search for an African explorer and his young bride who went missing twelve years back.

They survive the rigours of the desert, the death of their camels, and the perfidy of their guides, only to find themselves taken prisoner in a lost city and civilisation. Amelia and Emerson must bravely continue making archaeological finds while doing their…


Book cover of Queen of Ambition

Lisa E. Betz Author Of Death and a Crocodile

From my list on female sleuth mysteries from centuries past.

Why am I passionate about this?

I’m an engineer-turned-mystery-writer, and my taste in fiction is as unconventional as my career. I love books set in obscure periods of the past, with underdog characters who rise to the occasion through cleverness and grit. I write the kind of books I love to read, which explains why I set my novels in ancient Rome. The engineer side of my brain thrives on doing historical research while my creative side imagines quirky, imperfect characters who find unconventional ways to solve tricky mysteries. I hope you enjoy my list of clever, spunky sleuths from various periods who solve murders in unique ways. 

Lisa's book list on female sleuth mysteries from centuries past

Lisa E. Betz Why did Lisa love this book?

Who would expect a queen’s lady-in-waiting might be a spy? 

Ursula Blanchard is a genteel but penniless female trying to survive in the cut-throat world of Elizabethan court intrigue. She proves her intelligence and resourcefulness to Queen Elizabeth’s spymaster, who takes her under his protective wing—a two-edged sword, since it means Ursula is often called into dangerous undercover missions. The vivid, impeccably researched backdrop of Elizabethan England adds to the drama and provides fascinating color.   

In addition to her ability to unravel complicated plots, I appreciate how Ursula often faces ethical dilemmas. In this novel, she is forced to choose between saving a friendship and protecting the queen. She also proves certain male “experts” wrong when she cracks a series of coded messages.

By Fiona Buckley,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

Ursula Blanchard, loyal lady of the Queen's Presence Chamber and gifted sleuth, is at home amid the glittering complexities of the royal court. Now, Ursula has a new part to play in the service of her Queen -- a role that exposes her to hidden dangers in the famed university town of Cambridge. Assigned as a harbinger for the Queen's upcoming Summer Progress to Cambridge, Ursula is placed in charge of not only Her Majesty's comfort, but also her safety. For Ursula, that means undertaking menial employment in a pie shop to investigate rumored political perils behind a swashbuckling student…


Book cover of A Vow of Silence

Elizabeth Bailey Author Of The Gilded Shroud

From my list on mysteries to escape the now and voyage the past.

Why am I passionate about this?

Even as a child, I wanted to escape from current times and visit bygone or future eras. History and literature were favourites and I gleaned most of what I know of the past by reading. Then I found Georgette Heyer, prompting a lifetime love affair with all things Georgian and Regency. Agatha Christie got me into mystery. I loved both the puzzle of whodunit and being whirled away into Poirot, Marple, or Cadfael territory. A good mystery and a deep dive into history as well? Heaven! Best of all is the author who draws me so completely into their imaginary world that the real one fades away.

Elizabeth's book list on mysteries to escape the now and voyage the past

Elizabeth Bailey Why did Elizabeth love this book?

Sister Joan is yet another religious sleuth. Set in the early 1990s, I think this series now qualifies as a historical mystery. It is a lighter read than my other choices, but one I absolutely loved and, like Cadfael, I dived in and devoured the lot. Vow of Silence is the first and hooked me straight away. The religious life fascinates me and I enjoyed the way the ceremonial routine of the convent was woven into the mysteries. This detail serves to immerse you in the life of Sister Joan, a down-to-earth heroine who drew my admiration. The mysteries unfold naturally into the setting and don’t seem incongruous. A more gentle read than the others I have chosen, but acutely satisfying.

By Veronica Black,

Why should I read it?

2 authors picked A Vow of Silence as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

When one nun dies in a bizarre accident and another disappears, hushed whispers of virgin sacrifice, Mother Goddess worship, suicide, and murder spread among the Sisters at Cornwall House convent and Sister Joan is sent to investigate


Book cover of Absolution by Murder

Theresa Tomlinson Author Of A Swarming of Bees

From my list on throwing light into the Dark Ages.

Why am I passionate about this?

I spent much of my childhood living close to Whitby Abbey and heard many stories of the famous Saint Hilda. As a mother of three, I began writing stories, initially to entertain my children, and eventually published many historical stories for children and young adults – twice shortlisted for the Carnegie Medal. I moved back to the Whitby area in my 60s determined to write for an older age group and indulge my lifelong fascination for the Anglo-Saxon period. I took the half pagan Fridgyth character from my Young Adult adventure mystery – Wolfgirl - and developed her role as a warm, curious, flawed, investigator. I'm working on a third Fridgyth the Herbwife novel.

Theresa's book list on throwing light into the Dark Ages

Theresa Tomlinson Why did Theresa love this book?

I read this book many years ago - loved the strong female protagonist and was impressed by the writer’s detailed knowledge of the period, which must have come from vast research. The setting was familiar to me, as I had spent much of my childhood within view of Whitby Abbey. Though utterly fascinated by the story, I had a somewhat different take on what might have happened there in the year 664 and felt inspired to try my own hand at a historical murder mystery.

By Peter Tremayne,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

The King of Northumbria has requested the services of a wise counsel to decide the people's religious future. Among the select priests, elders, and scholars from Ireland and Rome is Sister Fidelma of Kildare. Trained as an advocate of the courts, she was expecting to rule on issues of law. Instead she was plunged into unholy murder.

Dead was the Abbess Etain, a leading Celtic speaker, her throat slashed. With the counsel in an uproar and civil war threatening, the desperate king has turned to the sharp-witted Sister Fidelma for help. With the aide of her dear friend Brother Eadulf…


Book cover of Doubt: A Parable

Will Dunne Author Of The Dramatic Writer's Companion: Tools to Develop Characters, Cause Scenes, and Build Stories

From my list on plays with characters who leap off the page.

Why am I passionate about this?

I’m a playwright who loves not only writing plays but also teaching dramatic writing workshops – mostly through my San Francisco program and Chicago Dramatists where I’m a Resident Playwright. My plays have received many awards and honors, including three selections for the National Playwrights Conference at the Eugene O’Neill Theatre Center, and have been presented in Europe, Russia, and Australia as well as the U.S. Meanwhile my workshops and script consultations have given me the opportunity to work with thousands of writers over the past 35 years. This led me to begin writing books for writers, starting with The Dramatic Writer’s Companion, now in its Second Edition.

Will's book list on plays with characters who leap off the page

Will Dunne Why did Will love this book?

You don’t have to grow up Catholic to like this play, but It sure doesn’t hurt.

Set in a Catholic elementary school in the Bronx, Doubt introduces us to Sister Aloysius, an uncompromising principal who runs her school as if it were a Marine bootcamp. This regime gets shaken when suspicions of sexual child abuse begin to arise.

What I like most about this play is how four flesh-and-blood characters – a school principal, a history teacher, a priest/gym instructor, and a student’s mother – can bring an entire school and community onstage in an incredibly vital way.

It’s why I think the play is superior to the later film adaptation and also why the play received so many awards, including a Tony for Best Play and a Pulitzer for Drama. 

By John Patrick Shanley,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

“A superb new drama written by John Patrick Shanley. It is an inspired study in moral uncertainty with the compellingly certain structure of an old-fashioned detective drama. Even as Doubt holds your conscious attention as an intelligently measured debate play, it sends off stealth charges that go deeper emotionally. One of the year’s ten best.”—Ben Brantley, The New York Times

“[The] #1 show of the year. How splendid it feels to be trusted with such passionate, exquisite ambiguity unlike anything we have seen from this prolific playwright so far. Blunt yet subtle, manipulative but full of empathy for all sides,…


Book cover of The Daylight Gate

Clarissa Pattern Author Of Airy Nothing

From my list on wherein a fictional Shakespeare enters stage right.

Why am I passionate about this?

When I first saw Shakespearean text, I could not get how anyone related to things written so many centuries ago. It took me several years before my soul awakened to these words that now felt fresh, like they could have been whispered to me that very day by a best friend who understood all the pain and all the laughter of my life. Very little is known about the man himself leaving writers a lot of room to create their own version of Shakespeare. I know my Shakespeare is just that: my magical, enigmatic, wise Shakespeare. It’s exciting to see how others give him life in their own stories.

Clarissa's book list on wherein a fictional Shakespeare enters stage right

Clarissa Pattern Why did Clarissa love this book?

I am secretly, or not so secretly now, in love with Jeanette Winterson. So I was very happy to discover that Winterson wrote a novel based on the 1612 Lancashire Witch Trials featuring an appearance by Mr. William Shakespeare. Not that this is a happy novel. It is brutal and made more horrific by the facts behind it, but that just makes it all the more enthralling to contemplate what humans are capable of doing to each other.

By Jeanette Winterson,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

'Utterly compulsive' Daily Telegraph
'A gripping gothic read' Sarah Hall, Guardian
'So seductive ... I was hooked' Independent

The Forest of Pendle used to be a hunting ground, but some say that the hill is the hunter - alive in its black-and-green coat cropped like an animal pelt.

Good Friday, 1612. Two notorious witches await trial and certain death in Lancaster Castle, whilst a small group gathers in secret protest. Into this group the self-made Alice Nutter stakes her claim and swears to fight against the rule of fear. But what is Alice's connection to these witches? What is magic…


Book cover of Morality Play

Rosemary Poole-Carter Author Of Only Charlotte

From my list on readers who act out novels in their heads.

Why am I passionate about this?

Make-believe is my vocation, calling to me since earliest childhood. Not too surprising, for I was raised in a Southern Gothic household, simmering with mendacity and thwarted desires. Back then, I plotted stories for my dolls and scribbled plays of love and murder for backyard productions with the neighbor girls. Living and schooling were necessary preparation for the next story or play. To this day, while truly embracing my lived-life with passion and wonder, I still make sense of it, in part, through make-believe—an act that is both solitary and collaborative—writing dialogue for actors to interpret and novels for readers to perform in their own active imaginations.

Rosemary's book list on readers who act out novels in their heads

Rosemary Poole-Carter Why did Rosemary love this book?

In the plague years of 14th century England, a young runaway priest, Nicholas Barber, hides himself by joining a troupe of traveling players and thereby finds himself a new role in a wider world. Nicholas’s story begins at an inflection point, when the residents in a particular town are more interested in an actual crime of murder than in seeing yet another iteration of the traditional religious Morality play. To captivate and keep their audience, the actors—with Nicholas now one of them—create a play of real life about the town’s murder. Their drama evolves in a series of performances as they discover more details of the mystery, at last leading them to its resolution. A fascinating interplay of history, mystery, theater, and human nature! I love this book.

By Barry Unsworth,

Why should I read it?

2 authors picked Morality Play as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

A New York Times Notable Book

In medieval England, a runaway scholar-priest named Nicholas Barber has joined a traveling theater troupe as they make their way toward their liege lord’s castle. In need of money, they decide to perform at a village en route. When their traditional morality plays fail to garner them an audience, they begin to stage the “the play of Thomas Wells”—their own depiction of the real-life drama unfolding within the village around the murder of a young boy. The villagers believe they have already identified the killer, and the troupe believes their play will be a…


Book cover of God's Traitors: Terror and Faith in Elizabethan England

Claire Ridgway Author Of The Fall of Anne Boleyn: A Countdown

From my list on the Tudors that really grab you.

Why am I passionate about this?

I’m a blogger, vlogger, historian, and author of 14 history books, and have a true passion for Tudor history. Tudor history grabbed me at the age of 11, when I had to do a project on Henry VIII and his six wives, and has never let me go. Anne Boleyn is my historical heroine and area of expertise, but I love anything to do with the Tudors. I’m a complete Tudor nut and if I’m not researching and writing about Tudor history, I’m talking about it or getting lost in a good book about it. I love any book that brings my favourite character to life or transports me back to the 16th century. 

Claire's book list on the Tudors that really grab you

Claire Ridgway Why did Claire love this book?

This is my all-time favourite history book. It’s non-fiction, but is far from dry or academic, it grabs you from the get-go and is like a thriller, a real page-turner.

We all know about the religious persecutions of Mary I’s reign, a queen who has gone down in history as Bloody Mary, but in God’s Traitors, historian Jessie Childs explores just how dangerous it was being a Catholic in Elizabethan England.

Childs focuses on the Vaux family and their experiences of being Catholic as Elizabeth I swings from religious tolerance to viewing Catholics as the enemy.

It’s a fantastic read.

By Jessie Childs,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

*Winner of the PEN Hessell-Tiltman Prize*
*Longlisted for The Samuel Johnson Prize for Non-Fiction*
*A Sunday Times Book of the Year*
*A Daily Telegraph Book of the Year*
*A Times Book of the Year*
*An Observer Book of the Year*

A woman awakes in a prison cell.

She has been on the run but the authorities have tracked her down and taken her to the Tower of London - where she is interrogated about the Gunpowder Plot.

The woman is Anne Vaux - one of the ardent, brave and exasperating members of the aristocratic Vauxes of Harrowden Hall.

Through the…


5 book lists we think you will like!

Interested in Nuns, detectives, and presidential biography?

10,000+ authors have recommended their favorite books and what they love about them. Browse their picks for the best books about Nuns, detectives, and presidential biography.

Nuns Explore 25 books about Nuns
Detectives Explore 2,685 books about detectives
Presidential Biography Explore 19 books about presidential biography