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8 Engrossing Mysteries Spanning Multiple Time Periods

November 29 2022
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Need a deeply immersive, transporting read to settle into as the days cool down? Check out one of these eight engrossing mysteries, all of which span multiple time periods. In turns thrilling, emotionally poignant, and intellectually complex, these stories all weave together tales from decades apart to bring to life the life-changing events and unresolved conflicts that haunt us through the decades. Often richly researched and always mesmerizingly atmospheric, each of these titles offers a time-traveling puzzle box that will beguile readers until the final page.

Moonlight and the Pearler's Daughter
by Lizzie Pook

Young Eliza Brightwell arrives on the shores of Western Australia with her family in 1886, wary of the place that has beguiled her father with its oceans full of pearls. A decade later, Eliza has acclimated to the glamor of her new life; but when the boat her father captains returns without him on board, Eliza is determined to discover what really happened to him. Richly textured with author Lizzie Pook’s research on the pearl industry and British colonial rule, MOONLIGHT AND THE PEARLER’S DAUGHTER is an adventure tale with a headstrong woman at its helm.

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Moonlight and the Pearler's Daughter
Lizzie Pook

For readers of The Light Between Oceans and The Island of Sea Women, a feminist adventure story set against the backdrop of the dangerous pearl diving industry in 19th-century Western Australia, about a young English woman who sets off to uncover the truth about the disappearance of her eccentric father.

Western Australia, 1886. After months at sea, a slow boat makes its passage from London to the shores of Bannin Bay. From the deck, young Eliza Brightwell and her family eye their strange, new home. Here is an unforgiving land where fortune sits patiently at the bottom of the ocean, waiting to be claimed by those brave enough to venture into its depths. An ocean where pearl shells bloom to the size of soup plates, where men are coaxed into unthinkable places and unspeakable acts by the promise of unimaginable riches.

Ten years later, the pearl-diving boat captained by Eliza’s eccentric father returns after months at sea—without Eliza’s father on it. Whispers from townsfolk point to mutiny or murder. Headstrong Eliza knows it’s up to her to discover who, or what, is really responsible.

As she searches for the truth, Eliza discovers that beneath the glamorous veneer of the pearling industry, lies a dark underbelly of sweltering, stinking decay. The sun-scorched streets of Bannin Bay, a place she once thought she knew so well, are teeming with corruption, prejudice, and blackmail. Just how far is Eliza willing to push herself in order to solve the mystery of her missing father? And what family secrets will come to haunt her along the way?

A transporting feminist adventure story based on Lizzie Pook’s deep research into the pearling industry and the era of British colonial rule in Australia, Moonlight and the Pearler’s Daughter is ultimately about the lengths one woman will travel to save her family.

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The English Monster
by Lloyd Shepherd

Based on the terrifying Ratcliffe Highway murders, THE ENGLISH MONSTER revisits the labyrinthine back alleys of Wapping in London, 1811, where the bustle of trade drowns out the sounds of nearby crime. When two families are gruesomely murdered, a senior officer of the Thames River Police Office must find the culprit to satisfy the public. But years before the Age of Empire, in the Age of Discovery, Billy Ablass is boarding a ship in 1564, eager to make his fortune. But on this, England’s first official slaving voyage, Billy, too, will find himself bound to something terrible.

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The English Monster
Lloyd Shepherd

A page-turning historical thriller combining two tales that ultimately converge: the investigation into a brutal series of murders in 1811 London and the seafaring adventures of a young man in Elizabethan England.

Two moments in England’s rise to empire, separated by centuries, yet connected by a crime that cannot be forgiven . . .

London, 1811. Along the twisting streets of Wapping, bounded by the ancient Ratcliffe Highway and the modern wonder of the London Dock, many a sin is hidden by the noise and glory of Trade. But now two families have fallen victim to foul murder, and Charles Horton, a senior officer of the newly formed Thames River Police Office, must deliver revenge to a terrified populace.

Plymouth, 1564. Young Billy Ablass arrives in the busy seaport with the burning desire of all young men: the getting and keeping of money. Setting sail on a ship owned by Queen Elizabeth herself seems the likely means to a better life. But the kidnapping of hundreds of human souls in Africa is not the only cursed event to occur on England’s first official slaving voyage. On a sun-blasted Florida islet, Billy too is to be enslaved.

Based on the true story of the gruesome Ratcliffe Highway murders, The English Monster is a breathtaking voyage across centuries, from the Age of Discovery to the Age of Empire, illuminating what happens to Britain as she gains global power but risks losing her soul.

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Build Your House Around My Body
by Violet Kupersmith

In this complexly woven debut that is part mystery, part ghost story, and part revenge tale, the disappearances of two women decades apart will reveal a much more expansive tapestry of violence and possession across fifty years of Vietnamese history. In 1986, the teenaged daughter of a wealthy family runs away from her raging father and gets lost amid an abandoned rubber plantation. In 2011, a disillusioned Vietnamese American woman vanishes from her new house in Saigon. Only a chorus of other characters and timelines can piece their stories back together.

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Build Your House Around My Body
Violet Kupersmith

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The Unforgotten
by Laura Powell

In this chilling and suspenseful debut, it is the summer of 1956, and teenaged Betty Broadbent has never gone far beyond the confines of the ramshackle boarding house her unpredictable mother runs in the fishing village of St. Steele. But when a string of gruesome murders bring a slew of journalists to stay at Hotel Eden, Betty finds herself drawn to Mr. Gallagher, a mysterious reporter twice her age. As their improper and passionate relationship deepens, the two find themselves confronted with a horrible choice, one that will have repercussions for years to come.

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The Unforgotten
Laura Powell

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The Devlin Diary
by Christi Phillips

In 1672, a murderer is loose in Charles II’s court, leaving a trail of bodies all carved up with mysterious markings. Centuries later, in 2008 Cambridge, Claire Donovan’s dream of being a history professor at Trinity College has finally come true. But when a fellow professor is found dead, leaving behind only his last research project on a seventeenth-century diary as a clue, Claire and her colleague Andrew Kent must uncover what the connection might be between this vicious murder and Hannah Devlin, the physician to the king’s mistress during the 1672 murders.

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The Devlin Diary
Christi Phillips

From the bestselling author of The Rossetti Letter comes a “thrilling” (Library Journal) novel of intrigue, passion, and royal secrets that shifts tantalizingly between Restoration-era London and present-day Cambridge, England.

London, 1672. A vicious killer stalks the court of Charles II, inscribing the victims’ bodies with mysterious markings. Are the murders the random acts of a madman? Or the violent effects of a deeply hidden conspiracy?

Cambridge, 2008. Teaching history at Trinity College is Claire Donovan’s dream come true—until one of her colleagues is found dead on the banks of the River Cam. The only key to the professor’s unsolved murder is the seventeenth-century diary kept by his last research subject, Hannah Devlin, physician to the king’s mistress. Through the arcane collections of Cambridge’s most eminent libraries, Claire and fellow historian Andrew Kent follow the clues Hannah left behind, uncovering secrets of London’s dark past and Cambridge’s murky present and discovering that the events of three hundred years ago still have consequences today...

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The Unquiet Grave
by Sharyn McCrumb

At the dawn of the 1930s, James Gardner finds himself under the care of Dr. James Boozer following a suicide attempt. Boozer, eager to try out his new talking cure for insanity, encourages Gardner, once the first black attorney to practice law, to recount his most famed case in which he defended a man on trial for murdering his wife. Back then, in 1897, headstrong Zona marries the charming Erasmus, despite her mother’s warnings. When Zona winds up dead, her mother claims a ghost has told her the identity of her murderer.

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The Unquiet Grave
Sharyn McCrumb

From New York Times bestselling author Sharyn McCrumb comes this finely wrought novel set in nineteenth-century West Virginia, based on the true story of one of the strangest murder trials in American history—the case of the Greenbrier Ghost.

Lakin, West Virginia, 1930—Following a suicide attempt and consigned to a segregated insane asylum, attorney James P.D. Gardner finds himself under the care of Dr. James Boozer. Eager to try the new talking cure for insanity, Boozer encourages his elderly patient to reminisce about his experiences as the first black attorney to practice law in nineteenth-century West Virginia. In his forty-year career, Gardner’s most memorable case was the one in which he helped to defend a white man on trial for the murder of his young bride—a case that the prosecution based on the testimony of a ghost.

Greenbrier, West Virginia, 1897—Beautiful, willful Zona Heaster has always lived in the mountains of West Virginia. Despite her mother’s misgivings, Zona marries Erasmus Trout Shue, the handsome blacksmith who has recently come to Greenbrier County. After weeks of silence, riders come to the Heasters’ place to tell them that Zona has died. A month after the funeral, determined to get justice for her daughter, Mary Jane informs the county prosecutor that Zona’s ghost appeared to her, saying that she had been murdered.

With its unique blend of masterful research and mesmerizing folklore illuminating the story’s fascinating and complex characters, The Unquiet Grave confirms Sharyn McCrumb’s place among the finest Southern writers at work today.

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The Intelligencer
by Leslie Silbert

Based on the strange circumstances surrounding the death of Christopher Marlowe, THE INTELLIGENCER is a deep dive into the political intrigue of sixteenth-century London. Marlowe, despite being a popular playwright, is also an “intelligencer” for the queen’s secret service and is embarking on his last mission to uncover a smuggling scheme. In present-day New York, private eye Kate Morgan has a client who has uncovered an old manuscript that someone is desperate to steal. Could the manuscript hold the secret to his centuries-long mystery? And what kind of deadly, international game has Kate now found herself embroiled in?

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The Intelligencer
Leslie Silbert

London, 1593: It is three weeks before the murder of Christopher Marlowe, playwright and spy in Queen Elizabeth I's secret service -- a crime that remains unsolved to this day. Marlowe is hoping to find his missing muse as he sets off on a new intelligence assignment...and closes in on the secret that will seal his fate.
New York City, present day: Renaissance scholar turned private eye Kate Morgan investigates a shocking heist and murder involving a mysterious, antique manuscript recently unearthed in central London. What secret lurks in those yellowed, ciphered pages...and how, centuries later, could it drive someone to kill?
Propelling us from the shadows of the sixteenth-century underworld to the chambers of a clandestine U.S. intelligence unit, from the glitter of the Elizabethan court to the catacombs of ancient Rome, The Intelligencer's dual narratives twist, turn, and collide as they race toward a stunning finale.

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The House in the Pines
by Ana Reyes

As a teenager, Maya watched her best friend Aubrey drop dead in front of Frank, a man who’d captivated their attention all summer. Years later, Maya is trying to rebuild her life, despite the gaps in her memory that keep her from understanding what she witnessed. When a YouTube video surfaces of another girl inexplicably dropping dead in front of Frank, Maya returns to her hometown, determined to solve the mystery that has haunted her once and for all. Singular and endlessly unpredictable, THE HOUSE IN THE PINES will be sure to keep you guessing until the end.

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The House in the Pines
Ana Reyes

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MENTIONED IN:

8 Engrossing Mysteries Spanning Multiple Time Periods

By Alice Martin | November 29, 2022

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Photo credit: iStock / fcscafeine

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