Obsessed with true crime? Love being swept away to a different era? Is figuring out “whodunit” before your favorite literary sleuths your ideal Friday night? This collection of award-winning, breathtaking, mind-bending historical mysteries and thrillers will scratch the itch. With classic cozies, psychological suspense, and everything in between this list ranges from fresh takes on familiar whodunits to subtle, emotional investigations into human motivation and desire. Settle into your favorite antique chair by the fireplace and prepare to be transported to a time not so long ago…
8 Historical Mysteries to Solve Before the End of the Summer
1896, New York. John Moore and Dr. Laszlo Kreizler pair up in the wake of a brutal murder to make controversial moves into the realm of criminology and build a psychological profile of the disturbed killer. Hypnotic and eerie, THE ALIENIST captivated fans of historical suspense from its first publication in 1994 and continues to appeal to fans of true crime today, both as a book and an original hit show on TNT.
Fast-paced and gripping, infused with a historian's exactitude, The Alienist conjures up the Gilded Age and its untarnished underside: verminous tenements and opulent mansions, corrupt cops and flamboyant gangsters, shining opera houses and seamy gin mills. Here is a New York during an age when questioning society's belief that all killers are born, not made, could have unexpected and mortal consequences.
In this follow up to A TALENT FOR MURDER, famed crime writer Agatha Christie boards a cruise ship headed to the Canary Islands to solve the violent murder of a British Secret Intelligence Service agent. But a seemingly unrelated act of violence that occurs on the ship sparks Agatha’s curiosity and soon she’s on the case to track down what might connect these two deaths. Using one of the genres most beloved authors as inspiration, Andrew Wilson crafts a mystery that will inspire nostalgia even in its originality.
THE CLOCKMAKER’S DAUGHTER traces parallel stories across time, from an artist’s retreat gone wrong in the nineteenth century, to the London archivist over a century later who uncovers the detritus of what happened during that hazy summer long ago. Narrating it all is a charming, enigmatic woman who may hold the key to what happened. But is she the victim or the perpetrator? An impeccably plotted novel, THE CLOCKMAKER’S DAUGHTER is perfect for a late night alone.
The mystery of Anastasia Romanov, the youngest daughter of Russia’s Tsar Nicholas II, has captivated the public’s imagination for over a century. I WAS ANASTASIA intertwines the story of the Grand Duchess Anastasia before she was taken before a firing squad in 1918 and the battered, unknown woman, Anna Anderson, who is found years later, claiming to be the princess. Ariel Lawhon presents her character’s case as if the reader is the jury, but ultimately questions of identity are not so easily determined.
A follow-up to THE STRANGE CASE OF THE ALCHEMIST’S DAUGHTER, Theodora Goss’s second novel rejoins her monstrously fun female crime-fighting elite. Mary Jekyll, along with her literary crew, must solve the disappearance of Lucinda Van Helsing, even if it means traveling across Europe and facing down the demons of their own pasts. Pure fan-fiction fun for lovers of the Victorian detective novel, this book invites readers to join its ragtag group of unexpectedly powerful women in a rat race to reclaim their own stories.
As cobwebbed and low-lit as the chapel in which it takes place, THE LOST HISTORY OF DREAMS is an atmospheric ghost story that delights in its gothic traditions. Robert Highstead, a post-mortem photographer in the Victorian era, is tasked with transporting the body of his dead cousin, the famed poet Hugh de Bonne, to his final resting place beside his wife, Ada. But the more Robert learns about Ada and Hugh’s tumultuous relationship, the more he begins to consider the macabre secrets behind his own marriage.
When famed Byronesque poet Hugh de Bonne is discovered dead in his bath one morning, his cousin Robert Highstead, a post-mortem photographer, is charged with a simple task: transport Hugh's remains for burial in a chapel. This chapel, a stained-glass folly set on the moors, was built by de Bonne sixteen years earlier to house the remains of his beloved wife and muse, Ada. Since then, the chapel has been locked and abandoned, a pilgrimage site for the rabid fans of de Bonne's last book, The Lost History of Dreams. However, Ada's grief-stricken niece refuses to open the glass chapel for Robert unless he agrees to her bargain: before he can lay Hugh to rest, Robert must record Isabelle's story of Ada and Hugh's ill-fated marriage over the course of five nights. As the mystery of Ada and Hugh's relationship unfolds, so too does the secret behind Robert's own marriage--including that of his fragile wife, Sida, who has not been the same since a tragic accident three years earlier and the origins of his morbid profession that has him seeing things he shouldn't...things from beyond the grave. Blurring the line between the past and the present, truth and fiction, and ultimately, life and death, The Lost History of Dreams is "a surrealist, haunting tale of suspense where every prediction turns out to be merely a step toward a bigger reveal" (Booklist).
In THE THIRTEENTH TALE, Vida Winter, a famous author now on the brink of death, calls biographer Margaret Lea to her side to reveal her secretive past. Vida’s tale becomes stranger and stranger, filled with grand haunted houses, uncanny twins, and tragic histories of violence. As Margaret listens to Vida’s origin story, she is sent spiraling into her own past and is left reeling from what she discovers there. Elegant, finely wrought, and deeply unnerving, THE THIRTEENTH TALE is surely a landmark modern gothic.
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In this novel, biographer Margaret Lea is approached by a well-loved but gravely ill author with a surprising request: she wants Margaret to capture her life story before it’s too late. Although Margaret has never read the author’s work, she’s intrigued, and soon gets immersed in her strange and troubling history. Now both women will have to confront their pasts—and grapple with the ghosts that still haunt them.
An ambitious young woman, left tracing the origins of a gory discovery. A young houseboy on a mission to save his dead master’s soul. And, all the while, rumors of mysterious deaths, ghostly dreamscapes, and men who can turn into tigers persist. In 1930s Malaysia, two young people embark on intertwined adventures that will change the course of their lives in this spellbinding, lavish exploration of superstition and belonging.