Another installment, reporting on my winter’s reading adventures. I write historical fiction (as E.A. Stewart), but I didn’t do a very good job this winter of reading deeply in the genre. Instead, I got hooked on a few series and read compulsively.
P.F. Chisolm’s Sir Robert Carey Mystery series:
I didn’t stop to breathe while consuming these Elizabethan period mysteries—and generally I loathe reading anything in that period.
A Famine of Horses (Book 1)
A Season of Knives (Book 2)
A Surfeit of Guns (Book 3)
A Plague of Angels (Book 4)
A Murder of Crows (Book 5)
An Air of Treason (Book 6)
Chisolm is a pseudonym used by Patricia Finney, who has launched a new series featuring characters from Book 6 of the Carey series: an out-of-work William Shakespeare and a woman who disguises herself as her brother, making her living as a barrister.
Do We Not Bleed? (The James Enys Mysteries Book 1)
The Duke of York (a short story, featuring Sir Robert Carey
Ashley Gardner’s Captain Lacey Regency Mysteries:
Captain Lacey Regency Mysteries Volume One [three novels & a short story on Kindle]
Captain Lacey Regency Mysteries Volume Two [next three novels & a novella]
A Death in Norfolk (Book 7)
A Disappearance in Drury Lane (Book 8)
Murder in Grosvenor Square (Book 9)
The covers of the current editions of these books typically show a Regency-era society woman in silks, as though these stories were romances. There is a subtle romantic thread that runs through the stories, but the focus of each novel is the mystery to be solved by the point-of-view captain, injured and home in London after the Napoleonic wars. These are quick reads, featuring exquisite historic detail and a running cast of quirky (but not to say Dickensian) characters.
Carol Hedges’s Victorian Murder Mysteries:
Diamonds & Dust
Honour & Obey
I believe Hedges is working on more titles, but these aren’t so much a series as connected stories, where the key characters of Diamonds & Dust appear as side characters is Honor & Obey. These stories are deep in Victorian detail, with interesting characters created in the manner of Victorian novels, with a soupçon of supernatural elements that don’t require immense suspension of disbelief.
I think I understand the author’s strategy with the covers, to look like Victorian penny dreadfuls. However, I personally hope she rethinks this strategy for future volumes. I believe more readers would be attracted through illustrated covers.
More historical novels:
The Outlaws – Jason Vail
I liked Jason Vail’s Stephen Attebrook medieval mystery series a great deal, which is set in 1260s in western Britain. The Outlaws is the background story of Stephen’s grandfather, and is historical fiction rather than mystery in structure. It’s for “big book” fans who want to lose themselves in another time and another place.
The Siege: A Novel – Arturo Perez-Reverte
Spoilers. I really liked this writer’s earlier work, so I really, really wanted to like this—but didn’t. There’s a mystery that’s tied up in a very unsatisfactory way, after much deep anguish among the point-of-view voices. There’s a would-be romance that kindles, and washes up on the shoals of the ending. There’s a historic siege—and just as I’m on the edge of my chair as a reader, the enemy just decides to pack up and go home. There’s a ton of historic research tossed in, which was the best part of the book. But I can’t recommend this to anyone. The Amazon reviewers, for the most part, reflect my dissatisfaction.
Fields of Glory – Michael Jecks
This story focuses on a small band of warriors in service to Edward III in France, leading up to The Battle of Crecy. I experienced this “story” as just one incursion and petty fight after another. I never did determine the plot or the theme. I suppose it’s just Man’s Injustice to Man. This might be the first of a series, probably in the manner of Bernard Cornwell. In the author’s mind, at least.