Mysteries/thrillers and historical fiction are two of the most popular genres for BookPage readers, so it's only natural to love books that are both. Great historical mysteries (or, because it's so fun to say, "history-mysteries") are the perfect mix of fast-paced sleuthing and snapshots into another place and time.
Readers will best know author David Morrell for his iconic adventure novels, including First Blood, which introduced the character Rambo. Morrell's moving in a new direction with his new novel, Murder as a Fine Art, a meticulously researched historical mystery set in Victorian London.
This book is an engrossing mix of history (from the British East India Company’s opium trade to 19th-century changes in police procedure) and psychological suspense, especially because Morrell's detective is Thomas De Quincey, a real-life English essayist who scandalously dramatized the 1811 Ratcliffe Highway murders in a postscript to his essay "On Murder Considered as One of the Fine Arts."
In Murder as a Fine Art, it has been 43 years since the Ratcliffe Highway murders, and someone has begun to recreate them. De Quincey is naturally a suspect and, as he quickly realizes, a target, but he is also the only man who can stop the killer.
Read our interview with David Morrell for Murder as a Fine Art, where I picked his brain about 19th-century novels, murder as an art form, drug use and more.
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Read on for four more 2013 releases for history-mystery fans:
Midnight at Marble Arch by Anne Perry
Fans of Victorian-era mysteries are probably already familiar with Perry's Charlotte and Thomas Pitt series—or at least they should be. This is the 28th in the series (whew!), and what makes this one special is its "unexpected and in-depth treatment of the subject of rape. . . . The descriptions and language may be straight out of 1896, but the attitudes and arguments are still relevant today." Read our review of this book.
A Study in Revenge by Kiernan Shields
The second sleuthing adventure for police deputy Archie Lean and private detective Perceval Grey is like an Occult-heavy American Sherlock mystery. Set in Portland, Maine, in 1893, this one's got all the underground tunnels, rooftop chases, risings from the dead, treasure searches and historical detail you'd ever want. Read our review of this book.
Ratlines by Stuart Neville
Set in 1960s Ireland, this "edgy political thriller" takes its inspiration from a vein of Ireland's postwar history, when Nazi collaborators were given sanctuary and set up with new identities on the Emerald Isle. Just before a visit from JFK, a wanted Nazi war criminal is found murdered in an Irish resort town. With real-life events and characters, this is a great story rooted in a truly fascinating history. Read our review of this book.
The Sound of Broken Glass by Deborah Crombie
Crombie's 15th adventure starring Scotland Yard detectives Duncan Kincaid and Gemma James probably doesn't really count as a historical mystery as it moves between past and present. However, history fans will love the setting of the Crystal Palace neighborhood in southeast London where the famous glass Crystal Palace building stood until it burned to the ground in 1936. Read our review of this book.
What's your favorite historical mystery you've read this year? Will you check any of these out?