I’ll Take My Mysteries with a Bit of Romance

I love romance novels, I really do. But, like many AAR readers, I also read other genres, and my other primary reading love is mysteries. I read both contemporary and historical mysteries, serious and light mysteries, cozies and police procedurals. My primary requirements for mysteries are that they be character driven, with minimal graphic details. I’ve read and enjoyed many mysteries, and mystery series, without a touch of romance for the main character, but my preference is that there be a satisfying romance for the main character. The kiss of death for me is when the main character’s significant other is killed off.

Nearly a year ago I wrote here about some of my favorite “recent” mystery finds, including books by Tasha Alexander, Deborah Crombie, Rhys Bowen, and Erin Hart. I’ve read a lot of mysteries since then. Some have a strong romantic component, while others have none, but my favorites all have interesting main characters. Following are a few of my favorite recent finds.

Several AAR readers suggested that I might like Anne Perry’s Victorian mysteries featuring policeman Thomas Pitt and his wife Charlotte. I decided to try the first in the series, The Cater Street Hangman, in audio and was hooked. Ms. Perry does a wonderful job giving the reader a feel for the time. While I listen to a lot of mysteries, I was completely stumped as to the identity of the villain, making many wrong guesses along the way. This is a long series and I’m pacing myself. So far I’ve read the first three, and am getting ready to download the fourth. Thanks to all of you who recommended this series to me; it’s wonderful! I can’t wait to see what happens in future books to Thomas and Charlotte, as well as to other members of Charlotte’s family. How will Charlotte deal with her reduced financial circumstances? Will she continue to investigate cases? I look forward to finding out.

Technically Jane Haddam isn’t a new-to-me author, as her Gregor Demarkian series was recommended to me years ago by several friends. I tried to read the books but they just didn’t hold my interest, so was less than enthused when my mystery book group picked one of the more recent books in the series, Wanting Sheila Dead to read. Much to my surprise, I loved it. Gregor is a former FBI profiler who still gets roped into investigating cases. As this book begins Gregor and his wife Bennis are just back from their honeymoon when he gets involved with two cases, the mysterious goings on at an old woman’s house, and a shooting on the scene of a reality show being filmed in Philadelphia very similar to America’s Next Top Model. The book is told from many different characters’ points of view, which was difficult for me to get used to initially. Based on what I’ve read online Bennis was Gregor’s longtime lover prior to their marriage. She only has a minor role in this book, but it’s clear they have a strong relationship. I recently discovered that this isn’t the first book I’ve read by the author. In the mid-1980s the author received an Edgar Award nomination for the best first mystery under her real name, Orania Papazoglou, for Sweet Savage Death. This is the first in a much shorter series, featuring former romance author Patience McKenna. Although a bit dated now, the Patience books are a lot of fun, and include a satisfying romance for Patience.

Over the past few years one of the breakout mystery  writers has been Louise Penny. Ms. Penny’s lead character Armand Gamache is a Chief Inspector with the Surêté du Québec in contemporary Montreal. In the first book in the series, Still Life, Inspector Gamache and his team make their first visit to Three Pines, a small village south of Montreal. Ms. Penny has introduced a large cast of characters including the residents of Three Pines, Gamache’s team, and members of his family. Armand Gamache is a wonderful character. He’s honorable, intelligent, and is a fantastic mentor to his staff. Gamache is also a loyal family man who adores his beloved wife Reine-Marie. In Trick of the Light, the most recent book in the series, their relationship is described as follows: “Armand Gamache knew he’d had a great deal of luck in his life, but none more than having loved the same woman for thirty-five years. Unless it was the extraordinary stroke of luck that she should also love him.” I’m completely in love with the series and with Inspector Gamache and can hardly wait for the next entry to be released later this month. The mysteries are intriguing, the characters complex, and the setting is vividly described.

Colin Cotterill’s new series featuring Jimm Juree is unlike any I’ve read before. In Killed at the Whim of a Hat Jimm and her family move from an urban area in Thailand to a rural resort in the south of Thailand after her mother sells their home and business and uses the money to buy a failing resort. Jimm goes from being a promising crime reporter in the city to catching fish for their resort – a resort pretty much no one comes to visit. But, of course, since this is a mystery series, Jimm gets involved with a murder and in the course of the investigation, with the interesting local police force. I’ve now read the first two books in the series and can’t wait for the third. While there’s no romance on the horizon for Jimm, the series abounds in interesting characters, social commentary, and a lot of humor. This series is fun!

Finally, I’ve started another post-World War I mystery series. In Dying in the Wool, Frances Brody introduces Kate Shackleton, the lead in this now three-book series. Kate’s husband went missing in World War I and is presumed dead. Still grieving for her husband, Kate’s trying to help other women in similar circumstances. Kate began locating other missing soldiers for women on an amateur basis. As word spread, she was asked to solve other mysteries. In this first book, Kate actually has a chance to go professional with her investigations. Kate’s mother seems determined to find a new husband for Kate; Kate just isn’t ready. I don’t know what the future will bring for Kate in the next two books, but I intend to find out. I listened to the first book in audio and was very happy with Nicola Barber as narrator. I was disappointed to discover that the next two books in the series don’t seem to be available in audio. But, I intend to stick with the series so will be reading the next two in print.

Have you read any of these series? If so, did you like them? And more importantly, do you have any new mystery series to recommend? As for me, I’m debating about starting several highly recommended series: Kathryn Miller Haines’ Rosie Winter’s series set during World War II, Charles Todd’s World War I series featuring nurse Bess Crawford, and Colin Cotterill’s first series set in 1970’s Laos featuring Dr. Siri Paiboun.

- LinnieGayl AAR

67 Responses to “I’ll Take My Mysteries with a Bit of Romance”

  1. PatF says:

    Anne Perry’s Thomas Pitt and and Charlotte series has been a favorite for many years. You might try her William Monk and Hester novels, also. It took me longer to “get into” those, but they are good. Have you tried Faye Kellerman’s Decker and Lazarus series? A bit more graphic detail in a contemporary setting. They are out of print now, but the earliest police procedurals I read were Dell Shannon’s Luis Mendoza series.

  2. farmwifetwo says:

    I think it makes for well rounded characters. Penny’s books may be set in Quebec but they aren’t Quebecois in the least which makes them disappointing.

    I also enjoy mysteries set in different places and written by different authors that live there. Have you read Donna Leon? Martin Walker? or Helene Tursten?

    I’ve added a few or yours to my goodreads tbr.

  3. LinnieGayl says:

    PatF, I haven’t read Anne Perry’s Monk and Hester novels. Thanks. I’ll have to check them out.

    Farmwifetwo: I wondered about the Quebecois part. I do adore the characters, though, so will definitely keep reading. I have read some of Donna Leon’s books, but have never read martin Walker or Helene Tursten! I just looked them both up and think I will particularly enjoy Martin Walker’s books. Thank you!

  4. SandyH says:

    If you like Tasha Alexander, I would recommend C. S. Harris’ St Cyr mysteries and Deanna Raybourn’s Lady Julia Grey. Although she only wrote four novels before her death, Arianna Franklin’s Mistress of the Art of Death series is very good.

    For more modern turn I would recommend Julia Spencer-Fleming Clare Fergusson/Russ Van Alstyne Mysteries. I will have to look at a few of your recommendations as well.

    • Renee says:

      I agree with your recommendations and if you like audio, the Julia Spencer-Fleming series and Deanna Raybourn series are very good in audio as well.

  5. Carrie says:

    When I wasn’t reading to my children, I read mostly mysteries for over 25 years. I like many of the popular authors– Elizabeth George, P.D. James, Martha Grimes and Dorothy L Sayers. I also read quite a few lighter mysteries, from authors such as Donna Andrews, Diane Mott Davis, Carolyn Hart, and Charlotte McLeod. I also read just about all the Anne Perry books at the time.

    I also recommend Iain Pears art mysteries, Josephine Tey, Sheila Lowe and Hailey Lind.

    I started realizing I wanted a relationship in my romances when I read Earlene Fowler’s Benni Harper series. They are “cozy” mysteries with a developing relationship between Benni and the chief of police. It’s very well done.

    From there I found romantic mysteries such as the Bodyguard series by Christy Tillery French and the Brandy Alexander series by a lesser known author, Shelly Fredman. Both of these authors satisfy my desire for a good mystery and a good relationship story. Plus both have some humor in the mix.

    Although I rarely read non-romantic mysteries these days, I still love mysteries with a good dose of romance and romantic suspense. I guess catching the bad guy is still a thrill to read about.

  6. Mrs. Fairfax says:

    You’ll like Bess Crawford – the first book at least, it opens with the sinking of the Brittanic. Brilliant start for a series.

    Have you listened to Louise Penny’s books on audio? I adore Ralph Cosham’s narration, the way his voice flows over the French pronunciations. Some people say he’s a bit to NPR-ish, but I love him, even when the plots are a bit outlandish. Still reading in the hope that one of these days, Peter will be the victim. :-)

    I haven’t tried Jimm Juree but did enjoy the first few Dr. Siri Paiboun books before I got distracted by something else. No romance, but a very engaging cast of characters.

    One of my favorite series lately is Imogen Robertson’s Harriet Westerman and Gabriel Crowther books, starting with Instruments of Darkness. It’s not romance, but oh dear heaven how I love these two characters. Harriet’s married to a Navy captain, chafing at not being able to travel with him and looking for something to relieve the boredom when she finds a body in the first book. Crowther is an older, reclusive scientist who lives nearby. Their dialog, particularly as the books progress and they come to know each other better, just snaps. It’s my very favorite literary relationship at the moment. The first one is the only one on audio so far, and it very much fit my impressions of the characters from reading first.

    An offbeat mystery series with romance is Peter May’s Beijing series starting with The Firemaker. They feature a US pathologist who consults on a case with Beijing authorities and falls for a Chinese detective. Their relationship is problematic on many levels and takes several books to work out, if you can call it that. The look at Chinese politics, modern customs and racism on both sides is fascinating.

    Definitely going to look up Frances Brody, thanks.

  7. LinnieGayl says:

    SandyH, I adore Deanna Raybourn’s books. I have C. S. Harris’ first book in my TBR pile. I suspect it’s time to shift it up closer to the top. I’ve heard such good things about Julia Spencer-Fleming Clare Fergusson/Russ Van Alstyne Mysteries here at AAR, and even went to a book signing she did. I really must give them a try. Thanks for the recommendations.

    Carrie, we’ve read a lot of the same mystery series! I particularly loved the books by Carolyn Hart and Charlotte McLeod. I’ve never heard of Christy Tillery French and the Brandy Alexander series. The French books in particular look like something I would enjoy. Thank you!

  8. Missie says:

    As always, great post, Linnie! I’m unfamiliar with some of those and am now looking forward to reading them.

    Hubby and I both are hooked on both of Colin Cotterill’s series — and as the Dr. Siri’s books progress, you will find romance, too :-)

  9. Natalie G says:

    One of my favorite historical mystery series is the Julian Kestrel series by Kate Ross. She wrote only 4 books before dying way too young of cancer. I will always wonder what she had planned for Julian over the course of more books.

  10. Tinabelle says:

    I am so excited about this discussion as I am a huge fan of mysteries, too. I can second recommendations for Deanna Raybourn’s Lady Julia Grey mysteries, C.S. Harris’ St. Cyr mysteries, Louise Penny’s Armand Gamache books, and Julia Spencer Fleming’s Miller’s Kill series. I enjoyed Tasha Alexander’s first couple of books but was not overly impressed with the last 2.

    If you enjoy historical mysteries, 2 other series I would recommend are:
    Ashley Gardner’s (AKA Jennifer Ashley) Captain Lacey mysteries. They have all been recently released as digital books at very low prices. Interesting recurring characters and a feel for the Regency times. Unlike the St. Cyr mysteries, Lacey is NOT an aristocrat and struggles in precarious economic circumstances.

    Jacqueline Windspear’s Maisie Dobbs series is also very interesting. Set in England between the 2 WW’s with a lot of rich historical information incorporated into the plots. Maisie is a psychologist who opens a detective agency and operates in an interesting manner.

    Thanks for all of the great suggestions. I am making a list of new authors and titles. Thanks again for the post!

    • Kayne says:

      Totally agree with your mention of Ashley Gardner’s Captain Lacey Mysteries. I was so surprised by how much I enjoyed these and the price was great. I think they were $.99 digitally. Great series.

  11. Kim says:

    I like the Deanna Raybourn books. I’ve been disappointed in the C.S. Harris series. I don’t like it when an author changes the love interest mid-way through a series. Since the writer’s roots were in romance, I didn’t think she would go in that direction.

    • Leslie says:

      She does it for a VERY good reason. I was glad, I like Hero.

      • Kim says:

        It’s only for a good reason if you like Hero. :) I don’t care for the character, so I don’t like the new direction.

        • annaR says:

          Hero is a complex character with truely unique qualities for a heroine. Because the romance between the leads has such a high degree of ambivalence for both of them, their coming together creates great poignancy. When one stops being resentful of her substitution for Kat, there are some wonderful qualities to appreciate in her. She is a heroine like no other.

          That said, however, the love between Kat and Sebastian was soul deep and to have that frustrated so completely was just plain wrong. It nearly ruined the whole basis of the series for me as well, but since I love the main character and Harris’ writing, I’ve decided to get over it.

          • Thea says:

            I concur. Once I stopped resenting Hero, I found that I really appreciated the new dimensions that her character gave the series. I think the series has gotten even better with her emergence as Sebastian’s love interest.

      • Arianne says:

        I loved it when she changed directions. Kat irritated me so much and she was very much a character out of a genre romance novel. Hero is different, and I like how Sebastian doesn’t like her very much in the first books she appears in. Of course, I’m mostly in it for the mystery!

  12. LinnieGayl says:

    Thanks, Mrs. Fairfax. I have read very good things about the Bess Crawford series. I read the first Louise Penny book in print, but then switched to audio and fell in love with Ralph Cosham! He is just perfect for me. I listened to a few when I was sick and his voice was so soothing it made me feel better And LOL about Peter being the victim; we can only hope! I am very curious to see what happens with Peter in the next book. I read the first Jimm Juree in print; I had sampled the audio version and didn’t care for the narrator. But there was a new narrator for the second book and she’s fantastic. I hadn’t heard of Imogen Roberton’s books; they sound interesting. Thank you!

    Natalie, I have the first Julian Kestrel book in my TBR pile; how sad about the author.

    Tinabelle, thanks for the recommendations! I really enjoy Jacqueline Winspear’s Maisie Dobbs series as well. I hadn’t heard of the Captain Lacey mysteries. I’ll look for them.

  13. LinnieGayl says:

    Interesting, Kim. What I really hate is when an author kills off the love interest in a mystery series and then introduces another one. I stopped reading a couple series when that happened quite a few years ago.

    • Carrie says:

      @LinnieGayle, @Kim

      Charlaine Harris killed off the love interest in one of her earlier mystery series and it made me crazy! I stopped the series right there. But then again, I stopped her Sookie series, too, in part because of the overabundance of lovers! ;-)

      Stephanie Bond’s Body Movers series is interesting, although I stopped it for now. I’ll wait until the series is finished so I know I can get a resolution to several issues, including which man she ends up with.

      • LinnieGayl says:

        I really loved Karen Kijewski’s Kat Colorado series until she killed off Kat’s love interest in between two books. I’d been waiting for the next book and when I read the first few pages of the next book and discovered Kat’s lover had been killed in-between books, I threw the book against the wall and never read another one.

        • Mrs. Fairfax says:

          Not only that, the audio publisher changed narrators after whatshisname was killed, and the new reader’s delivery changed Kat’s entire character. Instead of wisecracking fun, she read it as annoying and whiny. Just awful.

          • LinnieGayl says:

            Oh my! I wasn’t listening to audiobooks when I was reading the Kat Colorado series, but that would have made an already horrible turn of events even worse.

            • Jessica says:

              I had the exact same reaction to the last Karen Kijewski, when she killed Hank off at the beginning. Got that far and gave up. I don’t think she wrote another Kat Colorado book after that…I wonder if the backlash killed the series.

  14. Leslie says:

    The Amanda Pepper series by Gillian Roberts is good. Amanda is a prep school English teacher in Philadelphia. C. K. the police detective and love interest is yummy.
    I love Elizabeth George’s Inspector Lynley series, especially Careless in Red.
    Deborah Crombie’s Kincaid/James series is so good. Necessary as Blood is a truly amazing book.
    I could never get into the Thomas Pitt series. I read a couple of the earlier Monk books, but Anne Perry’s history creeps me out, so I never continued with the series.
    There is also Catherine Coulter’s FBI series with Savich and Sherlock. Every book also has another couple that find “love” while chasing down criminals. Blindside and Target are my favorites in the series. The Maze is the first and it has a very evil serial killer. Chilling.
    My new favorite is Ben Aaronovitch’s Peter Grant series. First book is Midnight Riot and the fourth just came out this month. Magical detective squad with New Scotland Yard. Just a little romance, but crazy and totally addictive.

  15. LinnieGayl says:

    Leslie, I loved the Amanda Pepper series by Gillian Roberts. Really good series.

    I recently got back into Deborah Crombie’s series as thought it was great. Am eagerly looking forward to the next in the series.

  16. Mrs. Fairfax says:

    Leslie, so fun to find someone else reading Aaronovitch’s Rivers of London! Just read Whispers Underground and looking forward to the next installment.

    • Leslie says:

      Whispers Underground is on my Kindle waiting for me to read, but I am busy with work and haven’t the time. I read where Aaronovich is contracted to write five and six. I am very happy!

  17. Kay Webb Harrison says:

    Try Margaret Maron. She has two series: 1) Sigrid Harald-a NYC police lieutenant, with NC roots and 2) Deborah Knott-a NC judge. The last book, Three Day Town paired them as Deborah and her husband honeymooned in NYC. The next book, The Buzzard Table, is supposed to bring Sigrid to NC.

    I also recommend Sharyn McCrumb. She also has two series: 1) Elizabeth MacPherson and 2) the Ballad series, set in the Applachian region where NC, TN, VA and WV meet. Most of her books are from the ’80s and ’90s, but she is still writing.

    • cawm says:

      Spoilers……I loved the Elizabeth MacPherson series until McCrumb did what Harris did in the Aurora Teagarden series and killed off the spouse of the heroine. I instantly stop reading any author who does this.
      I do enjoy the Ashley Gardner mysteries, and I’m so glad additional titles are coming out as e-books.

      • Mrs. Fairfax says:

        I read the ones after the hero’s demise first, so I wasn’t attached to him. I did like the poignant moments with Elizabeth trying to get herself together afterward. There’s a beautiful moment at the end of If I’d Killed Him When I Met Him that made me go look up the first ones.

  18. AARLynn says:

    I enjoy mysteries in general, both with and without a romance. For a series with a good relationship arc, I would second all those recommendations for Julia Spencer-Fleming. Her books are just fantastic! I also really enjoy Colin Cotterill’s Dr. Siri Paiboun series. I’m only a couple books in and not only are the mysteries interesting, but the author really makes his setting come alive.

    For mysteries with a romance, Dorothy L. Sayers’ Gaudy Night is still one of my all-time favorites. Intelligent leads, good writing and a lovely romance – I adore that book! Lord Peter Wimsey and Harriet Vane appear in other Sayers books, too, but this was my favorite.

  19. LinnieGayl says:

    Kay: I really enjoy Margaret Maron’s Deborah Knott series. I recently listened to Three Day Town and enjoyed it. That was my first introduction to Sigrid Harald. I’m now thinking of trying to find the Sigrid series. I read some of the books in Sharyn McCrumb’s Elizabeth MacPherson series but didn’t know she had another one. Thank you.!

    Lynn, Gaudy Night is definitely my favorite of the Lord Peter Wimsey/Harriet Vane series.

  20. Julie L. says:

    I’m surprised the Amelia Peabody books by Elizabeth Peters hasn’t come up yet. These are favorites of mine, set in Egypt and London, late Victorian period. Not only are they mysteries with a bit of romance, but they are hilarious! Amelia, her husband Radcliffe Emerson (they meet in the first book) and their son, Ramses make for entertaining reading (the audiobooks are fabulous, narrated by Babara Rosenblat). These are probably my favorite historical mysteries out there, though I’ve love the St. Cyr, Mistress of the Art of Death and Deanna Raybourn ones as well.

    • LinnieGayl says:

      Oh, JulieL :) Don’t get me started on the Amelia Peabody series. When you apply to be a reviewer at AAR you have to submit an A review and an F review. I think some were a bit shocked that my A review wasn’t a traditional romance, it was the first book in the Amelia Peabody series. I’m addicted to the series. I love Amelia & Emerson, and also really like Nefret and Ramses (and I know lots of people don’t like Nefret). In fact I convinced a young relative to name her kitty Peabody. My review of Crocodile on the Sandbank is here:

      http://likesbooks.com/cgi-bin/bookReview.pl?BookReviewId=6577

      • Julie L. says:

        LinnieGayl – loved your review and I agree the character development is what is first rate – and the humor! Crocodile is my favorite too, though I have not read them all yet. I’m working my way through them, I’m up to book 8, The Hippopotamus Pool. I now enjoy listening to them on audio, but I read Crocodile, it really is special.

      • Tinabelle says:

        LinnieGayle, you introduced me to Amelia Peabody right here @AAR and I have been forever grateful. This is one of my all-time favorite series. I enjoyed seeing Amelia and Emerson’s relationship develop over time and really love Ramses and Nefret, too. I still laugh out loud when I think about Amelia and Emerson’s first encounters w/parenthood! And I thought the ending relating to a certain son a total hoot! Highly recommend this series.

  21. So many mysteries, so little time!!–You have mentioned so many of my favorites. Here are three more-Laura Lippman and Barry Maitland and Kate Atkinson. Lippman writes stand alone mysteries and a series with Tess Monaghan as a detective. Baltimore is the scene and she describes it wonderfully. Barry Maitland has recurring police detectives and the stories are very dark and complicated, but well done. Kate Atkinson’s series has Jackson Brody as the detective- lots of complicated plots with inter -weaving stories that somehow connect to each other. I envy people who will discover these books. I have read them all and am waiting for more.

  22. Ann says:

    I bet you would like Andrea Penrose’s Lady Arianna regency mysteries books.

    Contemporary – you might like Ellery Adams books

  23. Kay Webb Harrison says:

    The first Sigrid Harald is One Coffee With. All of that series is now available as ebooks.

    I think that McCrumb’s first ballad book is If Ever I Return, Pretty Peggy-o.”

    Also, Kate Ross wrote at least one Julian Kestrel short story; it’s worth searching for.

    Kay

  24. Billie says:

    I used to love the Anne Perry books until I discovered she help murder the
    mother of her best friend. It was no longer fun to read the books knowing she herself had plotted a real life murder.

  25. MaryC says:

    I’d recommend Victoria Thompson’s Gaslight series which is set in nineteenth century New York. It features Sarah Brandt, a midwife whose family is one the the oldest in New York and Irish Catholic Detective Frank Malloy.

    I also enjoyed Bruce Alexander’s Sir John Fielding series. Sir Fielding was a blind magistrate who created London’s original police force, The Bow Street Runners.

    • Mrs. Fairfax says:

      I really enjoyed the Sir John Fielding books as well – although since this is a romance board, I’ll say that Alexander was better at writing romantic attachments, with genuinely sweet scenes, before he started TRYING to create a romance in the later books. Marvelous history and mysteries, though.

    • LinnieGayl says:

      I’ve heard really good things about the Gaslight series and recently picked up the first in the series. I hadn’t heard of the Sir John Fielding series.

  26. Sweeney says:

    I really enjoy Kate Carlisle’s Brooklyn Wainright series. Brooklyn is a book restorer living in San Fransisco with a boyfriend who is a retired MI6 agent. They are light mysteries with great supporting characters, humor and nothing graphic. There are about 4 or 5 books in the series so far. I also am a huge fan of Ashley Gardner’s Captain Lacey series.

  27. Karen says:

    I agree with many of the posts. I love Deborah Crombie (a Texan who writes a great British police procedural) who does focus on the relationship of a couple who are both in the police force. Ditto with Elizabeth George but (from the U.S. who writes a Brit police precedural) but her novels are darker than Ms. Crombie’s.
    I also recommend the Lloyd and Judy Hill series by Jill McGown…she also focuses on a couple who are both in the police force. Sadly, McGown passed away in 2007 or so but if you like a little romance with your British mystery, that’s a good one.
    I assume everyone knows this website but will add anyway:
    http://www.stopyourekillingme.com It’s a great place to search for mysteries.

  28. farmwifetwo says:

    Forgot to mention PJ Tracy. The series starts with Monkeewrench. The newest is out this month. There’s a hint of romance but the mysteries are different. Well plotted, different ideas, and always a social commentary (not the hit-the-reader-over-the head kind, but it’s there). Hope they keep writing them.

  29. Kari S. says:

    No one has mentioned Carola Dunn’s Daisy Dalrymple series! I adore them. They are even on my short list of books I buy in hardcover. Set after World War I, a period I’m really enjoying lately, they have good mysteries and plenty of romance. Daisy and her hero, Alec, horrify both their mothers when they become a couple because he is middle class (Scotland Yard detective) and she is “honorable,” (though impoverished).

    For lovers of short story historical mysteries with or without romance, I also recommend the Mammoth Books featuring historical detectives edited by Mike Ashley. The titles vary (Roman Whodunnits, Historical Whodunnits, Jacobean Whodunnits, Historical Detectives, and so on). This series has introduced me to many new authors that I might be interested in picking up later. I have always enjoyed anthologies for that very reason.

    For fans of truly ancient historical mysteries that feature a light romance, Ruth Downie’s Medicus series (set in the ancient Roman world) is also fun. The hero is a doctor with the Roman military, and the heroine is a half-dead slave whom he rescues in the first book.

    • LinnieGayl says:

      Kari, I need to go back and take a second look at the Daisy Dalrymple series. I goofed and started with about the 5th in the series and really felt I was missing something. I need to just start with the first.

      I’d never heard of those Mammoth Books anthologies. They sound like a good way to be introduced to different authors.

      • Mrs. Fairfax says:

        Similar to Daisy but a bit less straight-laced is Kerry Greenwood’s Phryne Fisher series, starting with Cocaine Blues. Phryne’s family was down and out in Australia, then got an inheritance and became well-to-do in England. Set in the 1920s, the series sees Phryne head back to Australia on a whim to help an acquaintance, but then she settles in. The first book sets up a lot of characters and the first three are a bit formulaic, but then Phryne finds her feet and doesn’t look back. EXCELLENT audio productions from Bolinda Audio, narrated by Stephanie Daniels. (If it’s not her, it’s abridged.) Very fun to listen to.

        • LinnieGayl says:

          I started the series at book 12 and loved it. Then I went back and starting reading from the beginning. I’m glad I started out of order as I might not have continued if I began with the first book. You’re right that the series really improves over time. I’m also listening in audio.

  30. cawm says:

    Another series that I have enjoyed very much in recent years is by Elly Griffiths. She writes about forensic archaeologist Ruth Galloway and Detective Inspector Harry Nelson.
    The Mammoth anthologies have also introduced me to a variety of interesting authors.

    • LinnieGayl says:

      Cawn, thank you for mentioning Elly Griffiths’ series. I can’t believe I forgot to mention it. My mystery book group read the first in the series about a year ago and I’ve since read the rest in the series. Ruth is a great lead character.

  31. Mrs. Fairfax says:

    Does anyone read S. J. Rozan’s Bill Smith Lydia Chin books? I started in the middle with Shanghai Moon, which is a wonderful book with a historical subplot about Jews fleeing Germany to China just before Japan invaded (something I knew nothing about) and a modern day mystery. It works perfectly well as a stand alone and has a tragic romance as the centerpiece.

    The thing I like about the rest of the series is that Bill and Lydia trade narration book by book. Rozan gives them distinct voices and it’s fascinating to see them through each other’s eyes. Bill’s older and in love with Lydia, who’s mid20s (at least when the series began), not in love with Bill, and under pressure from her Chinese family to stay away from his as a business partner. When she’s telling the story she seems a little flaky, but Bill sees her as capable and tough.

    • farmwifetwo says:

      Yes, I read through them a few years back when I was laid up with a shrapnel wound from the lawnmower – my PA for the day… don’t let anyone outside when you are mowing the grass.

      I love the first ones. They are grittier, darker and facinating. After her 7yr hiatus they are thin, slapped together and that 2010 dumbed down that we keep getting from authors lately.

      Mrs. Fairfax: Does anyone read S. J. Rozan’s Bill Smith Lydia Chin books? I started in the middle with Shanghai Moon, which is a wonderful book with a historical subplot about Jews fleeing Germany to China just before Japan invaded (something I knew nothing about) and a modern day mystery. It works perfectly well as a stand alone and has a tragic romance as the centerpiece.The thing I like about the rest of the series is that Bill and Lydia trade narration book by book. Rozan gives them distinct voices and it’s fascinating to see them through each other’s eyes. Bill’s older and in love with Lydia, who’s mid20s (at least when the series began), not in love with Bill, and under pressure from her Chinese family to stay away from his as a business partner. When she’s telling the story she seems a little flaky, but Bill sees her as capable and tough.

  32. Susan/DC says:

    I have to second Mrs. Fairfax’s recommendation of Imogen Robertson’s Harriet Westerman/Gabriel Crowther mysteries. They are powerful and poignant and totally engrossing.

    Rebecca Cantrell is the author of mysteries set in Germany in the 1930s. The series is quite good, although, like the Robertson, they must be read for the mystery and not for the romance. The rise of the Nazis and their impact on political and everyday life dramatically increase the potential stakes to the heroine, Hannah Vogel. Arianna Franklin (who is sorely missed) wrote a wonderful mystery set in the same time and part of the world, “City of Shadows”, but that one does have a satisfying love story.

  33. debb says:

    I’m also waiting for the next Captain Lacey book. Another series I found due to the wonders of ebooks are the Nell Sweeney books by P.B. Ryan set in post civil-war Boston.

  34. Judith says:

    I think no one has mentioned Lindsey Davis’ Marcus Didius Falco series, starting with Silver Pigs. Set in Rome and various places in the Roman Empire in the first century AD. I have always enjoyed them, the characters and plots are excellent, and the descriptions of life at the time are wonderfullz entertaining. And a definite second to the Julian Kestrel books – such a shame about Kate Ross – she had so much talent, and I was so eager for more from her. I love St. Cyr, but not as much :-)

    • LinnieGayl says:

      Thanks, Judith. I’ve seen mention of Lindsey Davis’ series before but have never read any of them. I am going to have to rectify that.

  35. Victoria S says:

    Reading this blog, I was gonna add my 2 cents worth but the others pretty much covered evryting I was gonna say. Then I read about Ashley Gardner’s “Captain Lacey” books, AND that they were only $.099, I went and got the first 3. Lovin” it! Thanks so much to everyone who clued me in to this great series. See..that’s why I love this blog :-)

    • LinnieGayl says:

      I just downloaded the first in the Captain Lacey series! So many of you enjoy them I figure I have to give the series a try.

  36. Rachel says:

    Quite a number of the series I enjoy are on this list. It took a while until someone mentioned it, but the Amelia Peabody series is probably my favorite, both in print and narrated by Barbara Rosenblat. A few series I haven’t seen mentioned yet (in no particular order)-
    8 books by Conrad Allen about George Porter Dillman and Genevieve Masefield, detectives on various ships in the early 1900s, starting with the Lusitania.
    A relatively new series by Teresa grant with 2 books so far; the first takes palce at the Congress of Vienna.
    The Charles Lennox series by Charles Finch
    The “Rather” series by C A Belmond
    Julie Hyzy’s two series- about a White House chef and the curator of a manor musuem
    The Sir Charles Sheridan series (ended in 2006) by Robin Paige
    The Gideon Oliver mysteries by Aaron Elkins
    This is a rather eclectic list, but that’s what makes reading so enjoyable – all the variety! Looking forward to using the previous posts to expand my to-be-borrowed from the library list. Thanks to everyone for the suggestions.

    • LinnieGayl says:

      Rachel, I’m a huge fan of the Rather series by C.A. Belmond. I haven’t seen anything about a next book, but hope there will be another. I’ve read Julie Hyzy’s White House chef series, but haven’t tried the curator series yet. I haven’t heard of the other series you mention; I’ll have to check them out. Thanks!

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