Three Favorite Historic Mysteries
My favorite books are mysteries, true, but I like to read in several genres. When I find a delightful historic mystery, I’m doubly thrilled. In fact, I so love historical mysteries, I have to showcase three series.
The Gaslight Mystery Series, written by Victoria Thompson, is set in turn-of-the-century New York City. Each book is named for the street or area where midwife Sarah Brandt suspects some evil doing has occurred. Police Sergeant Malloy, is involved as well, providing a bit of romance.
Across the country, in 1800s San Francisco, M. Louisa Locke’s Victorian San Francisco Mystery series feature Annie Fuller, a boardinghouse owner and clairvoyant, and Nate Dawson, a San Francisco lawyer. Together they investigate murders and other crimes.
Back in turn-of-the-century New York, the Molly Murphy mysteries feature an Irish immigrant. This series by Rhys Bowen begins with Molly barely escaping Ireland, and by the second book ending up running a detective agency (and solving the unexpected death of its former owner). She, too, meets an officer, NYPD police captain Daniel Sullivan.
Come to think of it, these series hit three genres: mystery, history, and romance. In any event, they provide me with hours of intrigue, lovely prose, and perplexing puzzles.
Of course, I’m always eager to find more stories. Do you have suggestions for a series that hits one, two, or all three of these genres? (Or others, I’m even partial to future stories, which are, of course, ALL completely fiction — at this point!)
My five-star pick this week combines two of my loves—mystery and historic fiction. Maids of Misfortune takes place in 1879 San Francisco. A young widow supports herself as boarding house owner Annie Fuller, and, in disguise, as psychic Sibyl who gives personal and financial advice to clients. As a woman, she knows that no one would ever accept such advice from her, but they will accept it as coming from the stars. When one of her clients dies, supposedly by suicide, she knows his finances weren’t in the shambles the police claim. When the police realize it was murder, they look to his family. Annie poses as a serving girl for the family to find the truth.
The author, M. Louisa Locke, seamlessly puts the reader squarely in that time and place. While we are engrossed in the plot we notice the work involved to keep up a house, the attitudes of everyone toward a Chinese cook, Annie’s belated realization of what her laundry girl does, and the problems of travel and communication in an earlier age.
Maids of Misfortune is the first of a series (the ebook is now free). There are several short stories as well. The fourth full-length mystery in the series will be out this month.
Of interest to the writers among my readers, M. Louisa Locke’s blog shares her ongoing marketing plans for an independent writer. (Next week I’ll revisit the upcoming Agatha awards with another good read.)