I Love a Mystery – Historic Mysteries

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. 

Five Star Read – EVANS ABOVE

This is the first of the series, and the first of Rhys Bowen’s three series. I discovered her third series first, then the second, and now while I’m trying to collect all the books in the second, I decided to try the first. Did not know what to expect with a male protagonist, a village constable in Wales. I must say, from my reading of the first book, that this series is just as delightful (not a term usually associated with male cops) as the other two. In this book readers are right there in Wales, along with all the frustrations, the odd goings on, and the variety of characters. Add to that a puzzling plot and a wind-up that pulls an amazing host of events together.

Evans aboveI’d like to quote from the publisher’s description — Evan Evans, a young police constable, has traded city life for that of Llanfair – an idyllic Welsh village. Nestling in the Snowdonia mountain range, Llanfair looks to Evans like a town forgotten by time, but he quickly learns that even the bucolic countryside has its share of eccentric – and deadly – characters. Evans’s new neighbors include two competitive ministers vying for the souls of their flock, one lascivious barmaid, and three other Evanses: Evans-the-Meat; Evans-the-Milk and Evans-the-Post (whose favorite hobby is to read the mail before he delivers it).

Before Evans has time to sort through the complicated relationships and rivalries of his new home, he’s called to the scene of a crime as brutal and fearsome as any he encountered in the big city. Two hikers have been murdered on the trails of the local mountain, and Evans must hunt down a vicious killer – who may or may not be linked to the mysterious destruction of Mrs. Powell-Jones’ prize-winning tomatoes.

Most of this series is available as e-books only. I’ve gotten them as used books through the resellers on Amazon since my husband enjoys them too, and he hasn’t converted to e-book reading. I do wish they were more widely available.

Since I mentioned the rarity of books published even as late as 2005, I wonder, do you have a favorite series that is out of print?

 

The Irish Cop Connection

I like to make connections. Sometimes the connection is between a newspaper article and a story I’ve read. Sometimes it’s between a whispered confidence and a past event. Sometimes, such as this time, the connection is between two mystery series by two different authors.

Besides the Irish cop connection, these series are cozy, historic, and by authors I’ve actually met! Both series are set in New York at the turn of the century—that’s the early 1900s, Both have a young woman who helps an Irish cop solve murders. Both include a good bit of accurate historic detail.

I met Victoria Thompson a few years ago at a conference where I bought one of her Gaslight Mystery books. I’ve been buying, and reading them ever since. However, I began reading the Molly Murphy Mysteries before I met Rhys Bowen. Okay, I must admit, it was a brief encounter. We rode the same elevator at the Malice Domestic Conference this May. I did tell her how much I enjoyed her mysteries.

Now that I’ve mentioned the similarities between the two series, let me tell you the differences.

Sarah Brandt, star of the Gaslight Mysteries, was born to wealth then turned against that lifestyle by becoming a midwife. She married and was a young widow when the series begins. Among the real historic issues involved in the mysteries are medical problems, including those of the Irish cop’s deaf son as well as social issues and the poverty of so many of New York’s citizens of the time. One among the continuing characters is Sarah’s neighbor, an extremely superstitions woman who sees signs of danger if a crow flies by, or almost anything else. Sarah has the advantage of knowing the wealthy people, old friends from her former life, and especially her mother to help in learning things that might be clues. The Irish cop, Frank Malloy, welcomes any help Sarah can provide. The two are attracted to each other, but so far, have too many other things going on to do much about it.

Molly Murphy, the heroine of the Molly Murphy Mysteries, arrived in New York from Ireland, one step ahead of the law that would arrest her for protecting herself. She takes a job at a detective agency. When the detective is killed, she takes over the role of detective. Throughout the series, Molly meets historic people such as Harry Houdini and Nellie Bly. Her neighbors are two flamboyant women who introduce Molly to their well-known friends, so many historic events contribute to the mysteries. Daniel Sullivan, the Irish cop, does not welcome help from Molly on his cases, nor does he want to hear about her detective work that may be connected to his. However, their personal relationship advances from romance, to distance, to rejection, then back, and to marriage.

Do you like to make connections such as this? Do you know of any other mysteries that could be connected in some tenuous fashion? Let me know below in the comments. And, before I leave you, I’d like to give you a couple of links for these two authors and their sites.

Victoria Thompson’s Amazon author page is here. A recent Facebook entry is here. 

Rhys Bowen’s Amazon author page is here. Her Twitter account is here.