Winter is a time for staying home, whether by choice or because Mother Nature has made the outdoors utterly inhospitable. But just because you’re stuck indoors doesn’t mean you can’t travel through time and space, albeit with the help of a good book. So whether you’re looking for mystery set somewhere warm and sunny or to uncover murder most foul in a snowy city, here are ten historical mystery novels that will take you away this winter.
Revenge is a dish best served cold, so what better season to read a revenge tale than winter? Two years after the death of her sister Constance aboard the ship Makepeace, Maude Horton is in London on the hunt for answers. Constance’s diary reveals that the ship’s scientist, Edison Stowe, likely had something to do with her demise, and so Maude stalks the man on his latest venture, a train that takes tourists to witness public hangings, which were popular in the Victorian era. But will Maude be able to get justice for her sister, or has she too unknowingly fallen into Stowe’s web of deceit and murder? MAUDE HORTON’S GLORIOUS REVENGE is a cat-and-mouse tale of vengeance and violence, one that is particularly hard to put down once started.
A young woman searches for the truth about her sister, who boarded a ship headed to the frozen Arctic and never returned.
“Lizzie Pook is a master of suspense. The story of one sister's love and determination to avenge her sister's death, is an unforgettable, atmospheric thrill ride.” —Adriana Trigiani, bestselling author of The Good Left Undone
Twenty-year-old Constance Horton has run away from her life in Victorian London, disguising herself as a boy to board the Makepeace, an expedition vessel bound for the icy and unexplored Northwest Passage of the Arctic. She struggles to keep her real identity a secret on the ship, a feat that only grows more difficult when facing off with the constant dangers of the icy North.
Even more dangerous than the cold, the storms, and the hunger, are some of the men aboard—including the ship’s scientist Edison Stowe. He seems to be watching Constance, and she knows that his attention could be fatal.
In London two years later: Maude Horton is searching for the truth. After being told by the British Admiralty that her sister’s death onboard the Makepeace was nothing more than a tragic accident, she receives a diary revealing that Edison Stowe had more of a hand in Constance’s death than the returning crew acknowledged.
In order to get the answers she needs, Maude decides to shadow Edison. She joins him on a new venture he’s started to capitalize on the murder mania that has all of London in a frenzy—a travel company that takes guests around the country via train to witness public hangings—to extract the truth from him in any way possible. As tensions and dangers mount, it ultimately falls to Maude to enact the ultimate revenge to get justice for her sister.
Maude Horton’s Glorious Revenge is a transporting, atmospheric novel about the lengths we will go to for justice—and for love.
Life has a way of connecting us with people we would have never imagined we’d meet. For young Massimo, a fourteen-year-old trying to survive as WWII rages on in Italy, it is the death of his parents that leads him to the thief and artist Pietro Houdini. At first, Pietro promises Massimo safety and a job as his assistant, but alongside a colorful cast of misfits, they begin stealing art, riches, and whatever else they can find to keep them safe from the Germans. But is there more to Pietro’s strange stories and quirks, and do they have the potential to reveal Massimo’s own tightly held secrets? A gripping drama about war and family, THE CURSE OF PIETRO HOUDINI is sure to cast its spell over any reader who cracks open its covers.
From the Dagger Award–winning author of Norwegian by Night comes a vivid, thrilling, and moving World War II art-heist-adventure tale where enemies become heroes, allies become villains, and a child learns what it means to become an adult—for fans of All the Light We Cannot See.
August, 1943. Fourteen-year-old Massimo is all alone. Newly orphaned and fleeing from Rome after surviving the American bombing raid that killed his parents, Massimo is attacked by thugs and finds himself bloodied at the base of the Montecassino. It is there in the Benedictine abbey’s shadow that a charismatic and cryptic man calling himself Pietro Houdini, the self-proclaimed “Master Artist and confidante of the Vatican,” rescues Massimo and brings him up the mountain to serve as his assistant in preserving the treasures that lay within the monastery walls.
But can Massimo believe what Pietro is saying, particularly when Massimo has secrets too? Who is this extraordinary man? When it becomes evident that Montecassino will soon become the front line in the war, Pietro Houdini and Massimo execute a plan to smuggle three priceless Titian paintings to safety down the mountain. They are joined by a nurse concealing a nefarious past, a café owner turned murderer, a wounded but chipper German soldier, and a pair of lovers along with their injured mule, Ferrari. Together they will lie, cheat, steal, fight, kill, and sin their way through battlefields to survive, all while smuggling the Renaissance masterpieces and the bag full of ancient Greek gold they have rescued from the “safe keeping” of the Germans.
Heartfelt, powerfully engaging, and in the tradition of City of Thieves by David Benioff, The Curse of Pietro Houdini is a work of storytelling bravado: a thrilling action-packed adventure heist, an imaginative chronicle of forgotten history, and a philosophical coming-of-age epic where a child navigates one of the most enigmatic and morally complex fronts of World War II and lives to tell the tale.
At the Woman’s Medical College of Pennsylvania, Dr. Lydia Weston makes sure her students are well-versed in human anatomy in order to best treat the living and understand the dead. But soon, Lydia is drawn in to the case of Anna Ward, a chambermaid and patient who appears to have drowned herself. But Anna’s diary reveals that the young woman knew things she shouldn’t, and now it's up to Lydia to solve her murder before she becomes the next target of the dark forces at work. MURDER BY DEGREES takes readers back to 1875, a time of lamp-lit streets and a country grappling with progress, all of which adds to the uncertain and dangerous atmosphere of the story.
For fans of Jacqueline Winspear and Charles Todd, Murder by Degrees is a historical mystery set in 19th century Philadelphia, following a pioneering woman doctor as she investigates the disappearance of a young patient who is presumed dead.
Philadelphia, 1875: It is the start of term at Woman’s Medical College of Pennsylvania. Dr. Lydia Weston, professor and anatomist, is immersed in teaching her students in the lecture hall and hospital. When the body of a patient, Anna Ward, is dredged out of the Schuylkill River, the young chambermaid’s death is deemed a suicide. But Lydia is suspicious and she is soon brought into the police investigation.
Aided by a diary filled with cryptic passages of poetry, Lydia discovers more about the young woman she thought she knew. Through her skill at the autopsy table and her clinical acumen, Lydia draws nearer the truth. Soon a terrible secret, long hidden, will be revealed. But Lydia must act quickly, before she becomes the next target of those who wished to silence Anna.
Winter is a time to explore the indoors, to uncover what has been lost or hidden. That’s what historian Elodie Winslow does during her visit to Birchwood Manor. The house has many secrets, all of which begin to be unlocked with the discovery of a leather satchel. The summer of 1862 should have been a productive, creative holiday, but it turned into a dark season of heartbreak and hate. And unbeknownst to Elodie, she’s connected to those terrible times as well. A Gothic tale of betrayal and romance, THE CLOCKMAKER’S DAUGHTER will remind you of all the secrets that can be hidden in every nook and cranny of a home.
If you’re already looking to escape the dreary winter to beautiful Istanbul, you know it’s a place of color and culture, food and festival. But in ISTANBUL PASSAGE, American businessman Leon Bauer goes there to find a much rarer commodity: peace. But fate has other plans when he draws unwanted attention to himself through saving another’s life. Now on the run in post-WWII Turkey, Leon must navigate the complex underworld of Istanbul if he wants to ever make it home. Full of lush description and breathtaking action, ISTANBUL PASSAGE makes for a magnificent literary getaway.
The passing on of family heirlooms is a time-honored tradition, but there can be costs. For Red, her father’s gift to her is an ancient Cornish method of fortune-telling, called the Square of Sevens. When he entrusts her to a gentleman shortly before his death, Red is thrust into high society, using her fortune-telling method in order to delight her social betters and gain fame and attention. But questions around her family, and who was hounding her father before his untimely death, leads Red down a dangerous path. THE SQUARE OF SEVENS will take you on a journey across the UK, from the most lavish homes to the poorest villages, all in search of answers and identity.
“A big, satisfying, and clever read.” —The Times (London)
An orphaned fortune teller in 18th-century England searches for answers about her long-dead mother and uncovers shocking secrets in this immersive and atmospheric saga perfect for fans of Sarah Waters and Sarah Perry.
Cornwall, 1730: A young girl known only as Red travels with her father making a living predicting fortunes using the ancient Cornish method of the Square of Sevens. Shortly before he dies, her father entrusts Red’s care to a gentleman scholar, along with a document containing the secret of the Square of Sevens technique.
Raised as a lady amidst the Georgian splendor of Bath, Red’s fortune-telling delights in high society. But she cannot ignore the questions that gnaw at her soul: who was her mother? How did she die? And who are the mysterious enemies her father was always terrified would find him?
The pursuit of these mysteries takes her from Cornwall and Bath to London and Devon, from the rough ribaldry of the Bartholomew Fair to the grand houses of two of the most powerful families in England. And while Red’s quest brings her the possibility of great reward, it also leads to grave danger.
Laura Shepherd-Robinson, “the queen of modern Georgian literature” (Susan Stokes-Chapman, author of Pandora), has written a dazzling and Dickensian story of mystery and intrigue, with audacious twists and turns.
If you’re wintering in a country that’s too warm for snow, then venture to Sweden in the eighteenth century. But if you’re expecting THE WOLF AND THE WATCHMAN to be light and fluffy like fresh snow, you’re about to be hit with a blizzard. Watchman Mikel Cardell awakes to news of a body floating in the Larder. But this murder will not remain unsolved, as lawyer Cecil Winge has taken responsibility for finding out who did it. This murder is just one symptom of a rot that has taken over the city’s dark underworld, and runs deeper than the human imagination. For those looking for a pitch-black murder mystery to rival the winter night, this book fits the bill.
1850s London was an exciting time, with the Great Exhibition bringing visitors and artisans from around the world to the metropolis. Young painter Iris is thrilled by all the new people filling the city, hoping to realize her own artistic pursuits outside her job of painting doll faces. And she seems to get her wish when she catches the eye of painter Louis Frost, who will teach her in exchange for her modeling for him. But taxidermist Silas is determined to make Iris his, even as Iris begins to fall in love with her mentor. THE DOLL FACTORY is all about the darkness that lies beneath the beautiful veneer, and the twisted things people will do to keep that darkness hidden.
The #1 international bestseller and The New York Times Editor’s Choice
“As lush as the novels of Kate Morton and Diane Setterfield, as exciting as The Alienist and Iain Pears’ An Instance of the Fingerpost, this exquisite literary thriller will intrigue book clubs and rivet fans of historical fiction.” —A.J. Finn, #1 New York Times bestselling author of The Woman in the Window
“A lush, evocative Gothic.” —The New York Times Book Review
“This terrifically exciting novel will jolt, thrill, and bewitch readers.” —Booklist, starred review
Obsession is an art.
In this “sharp, scary, gorgeously evocative tale of love, art, and obsession” (Paula Hawkins, bestselling author of The Girl on the Train), a beautiful young woman aspires to be an artist, while a man’s dark obsession may destroy her world forever.
Obsession is an art.
In 1850s London, the Great Exhibition is being erected in Hyde Park and, among the crowd watching the dazzling spectacle, two people meet by happenstance. For Iris, an arrestingly attractive aspiring artist, it is a brief and forgettable moment. But for Silas, a curiosity collector enchanted by all things strange and beautiful, the meeting marks a new beginning.
When Iris is asked to model for Pre-Raphaelite artist Louis Frost, she agrees on the condition that he will also teach her to paint. Suddenly, her world begins to expand beyond her wildest dreams—but she has no idea that evil is waiting in the shadows. Silas has only thought of one thing since that chance meeting, and his obsession is darkening by the day.
“A lush, evocative Gothic” (The New York Times Book Review) that is “a perfect blend of froth and substance” (The Washington Post), The Doll Factory will haunt you long after you finish it and is perfect for fans of The Alienist, Drood, and Fingersmith.
Most of us know what it feels like to have to work a crazy job in order to make ends meet. Turns out, that’s not just a twenty-first-century problem! In THE BALLAD OF BLACK TOM, Charles Thomas Tester will take on any task in any part of New York City, no matter how strange, so long as it pays. After all, he’s got rent to pay and a father to take care of. But his life changes when he delivers an ancient magical tome to a witch and catches the eye of some supernatural entities, who don’t have the best of intentions. A tale full of magic, mystery, and the realities of racism in 1920s New York, this Lovecraft-inspired story is sure to delight fans of horror and mystery.
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