I’ve been so badly organised recently that I had no idea what this month’s Historical Musings post would be about until yesterday, when I sat down to start reading Sovereign, the third book in CJ Sansom’s Shardlake mystery series, set in Tudor England. I enjoy reading historical mysteries for the same reasons that I enjoy reading historical fiction in general (escaping into the past, learning through fiction etc) but also because I like to see mysteries being solved through traditional methods – questioning witnesses, making observations, searching for clues – without the use of modern technology.
I loved the first two Shardlake novels, yet it has taken me more than a year to get round to picking up this third one; the problem with historical mysteries is that they all seem to be part of a long series! I can’t think of many standalones that I’ve read; The Name of the Rose by Umberto Eco is one, The Unburied by Charles Palliser is another, and then there are some of Andrew Taylor’s books (The Anatomy of Ghosts and The American Boy) – but historical mystery series are in abundance! Although I seem to be very good at starting them, I’m not so good at remembering to continue with them.
Here are a few that I have in progress at the moment:
Shardlake series by CJ Sansom (Tudor) – read the first two books and currently reading the third
Sebastian St Cyr series by CS Harris (Regency) – read the first book
Amelia Peabody series by Elizabeth Peters (19th/20th century, Egypt) – read the first two books
Mary Russell series by Laurie R King (early 20th century) – read the first two books
Justin de Quincy series by Sharon Penman (medieval) – read the first book
Charles Horton series by Lloyd Shepherd (19th century) – read the first two books
Adelia Aguilar series by Ariana Franklin (medieval) – read the first book
Thomas Hawkins series by Antonia Hodgson (18th century) – read the first two books and starting the third soon
As you can see, I’ve got a lot of reading to do!
This month, then, I’d like to hear your thoughts on historical mysteries. Do you enjoy reading them? Which are your favourites?