12 Enthralling Historical Mysteries That Take Place in England
Clever sleuths have been capturing the imaginations of readers since the first printing of Arthur Conan Doyle's Sherlock Holmes stories. Modern audiences continue to have an appetite for old-fashioned mysteries, especially those set in the bygone days of England. If you love reading about daring detectives solving nearly-impossible cases, check out the twelve engaging works listed here. This video was made with Ezvid Wikimaker.
English Historical Mystery Books: Our 12 Picks
Popular Mystery & Thriller Sub-Genres
- Cozy Mystery
- Psychological Thriller
- Police Procedural
- Crime Thriller
- Detective Fiction
- Horror Thriller
Classic Mystery Books
The authors on this list stand on the shoulders of many amazing writers who influenced the genre. Consider diving into mystery's rich history with these classics:
- Murder on the Orient Express by Agatha Christie
- The Hound of the Baskervilles by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle
- The Maltese Falcon by Dashiell Hammett
- Rebecca by Daphne Du Maurier
- The Woman in White by Wilkie Collins
The History of Fictional Detectives
With Sherlock Holmes and Hercule Poirot among its pop culture heroes, Britain is no stranger to literary mysteries. Many contemporary books in the genre take place in the present, but there are plenty of others that bring readers to the bygone days of lords and ladies. For those eager to tag along with clever characters solving murders and uncovering conspiracies, here, in no particular order, are twelve exciting mystery novels set in historical England.
Coming in at #1 is "Bellfield Hall" by Anna Dean. The first installment in the "Dido Kent" series centers on the strange disappearance of wealthy heir Mr. Richard Montague, who abruptly breaks off his engagement to his fiancee Catherine after an unusual occurrence at their party, and then goes missing. Dismayed, Catherine enlists her maiden aunt Miss Dido Kent to find Richard and get to the bottom of the mystery.
For #2 we find "Blood Is Blood" by Will Thomas. Cyrus Barker and Thomas Llewelyn face a terrorist threat in this tenth book about the esteemed private investigators. When Barker is injured by a bombing at the office, his partner, who is about to tie the knot, must defer his nuptials and take action to locate their murderous assailant. Reluctantly accepting the help of Barker's estranged and potentially suspicious brother Caleb, Llewelyn fights against the clock to save his colleagues' lives.
Cyrus Barker and Thomas Llewelyn face a terrorist threat in this tenth book about the esteemed private investigators.
At #3 we get "Death Comes to Bath" by Catherine Lloyd. The injured Major Sir Robert relocates from Kurland St. Mary to Bath with his wife, Lady Lucy, so he can convalesce. But instead of relaxation, the couple encounters a grave incident: the murder of Sir William Benson, an acquaintance Robert had made at the baths. Vowing to find the killer, and undeterred by the fact that Sir William's will has gone conspicuously missing, Robert and Lucy dive deep into murky investigative waters.
Arriving at #4 is "The Storyteller's Daughter" by Fiona Mountain. Joanna Royce, a young woman growing up in 18th-century Derbyshire mining country, dreams of breaking free from the arduous life of labor she and her parents endure. A glimmer of hope appears when she discovers a rare gemstone that could be the key to a brighter future. But when an affluent young couple on their honeymoon vanishes nearby, and Joanna's father is made a suspect, the family's fortunes hang in the balance. Will Joanna be able to uncover the truth of the couple's disappearance and prove her dad's innocence?
For #5 we have "Heresy" by S.J. Parris. Monk, philosopher, and magician Giordano Bruno arrives in Tudor England seeking validation for his heretical beliefs. While there, he is conscripted by Queen Elizabeth I to go undercover at Oxford, where he will research the Catholic conspiracy to depose her. At the same time, to avoid suspicion, he will partake in a scientific debate about the Copernican theory. But when the university is shaken by a string of brutal murders that appear to have a hidden pattern, Bruno's mission is derailed, and he must work to solve the case and thwart the killer.
Monk, philosopher, and magician Giordano Bruno arrives in Tudor England seeking validation for his heretical beliefs.
Coming in at #6 is "The Midwife's Tale" by Sam Thomas. Against the backdrop of the 17th century York rebellion, Esther Cooper is accused of killing her husband, and is sentenced to be burned at the stake. Certain that Esther is innocent, her best friend, midwife Bridget Hodgson, teams up with servant Martha Hawkins to track down the true murderer. As the women take their investigation through both the richest and poorest parts of the city, avoiding insurgent fire along the way, they uncover disturbing truths about Esther's husband.
For #7 we find "A Murder at Rosamund's Gate" by Susanna Calkins. A 17th-century chambermaid working for the local magistrate, Lucy Campion is used to an uneventful life performing household chores. Her routine is disrupted, however, when another servant at the house is murdered, and someone dear to her is targeted as the perpetrator. Refusing to believe the accusation, Lucy has to move beyond her posh working quarters and into the plague-filled London streets in order to find out what really happened.
At #8 is "Cat and Mouse" by Tim Vicary. Set in 1914 England and Ireland, this riveting novel follows two sisters who battle against the patriarchy. The eldest, formerly imprisoned suffragette Sarah Becket, takes to the London streets to rally for women's rights after she learns about her husband's indiscretions. Across the sea, Deborah Cavendish faces the stressful choice of choosing between her stable but loveless marriage, and her tryst with the leader of a trade union. When Deborah reads about her sister's protest, she joins her in a fight for their shared ideals.
When Deborah reads about her sister's protest, she joins her in a fight for their shared ideals.
For #9 we get "The Seventh Man" by Lisa Buie-Collard. Detective Alban Thain believes in ghosts, and he's confident one was responsible for kidnapping a young American writer named Celia Wight. He's also sure that the same ghost, which he deems the Wraith, is the elusive assassin who moments earlier murdered a prominent banker. With the help of surveillance footage, Thain navigates London in search of Celia and her potentially otherworldly assailant.
Coming in at #10 is "Dying in the Wool" by Frances Brody. In a quaint Yorkshire town, amateur sleuth Kate Shackleton finds herself promoted to professional P.I. when she sets out to crack the case of Joshua Braithwaite, a mill owner who went missing seven years ago. Determined to solve the mystery and provide closure for Joshua's soon-to-be married daughter Tabitha, the plucky Kate will need to dig up some dirt on the denizens of her seemingly peaceful village.
For #11 we have "An Artless Demise" by Anna Lee Huber. Lady Kiera Darby makes a dramatic return to London, where she is confronted by the gruesome reality of "body snatchers," killers who replicate the homicides of infamous Scottish criminals. Wrongly thinking that her troubles are behind her, Kiera becomes implicated in the bloody situation when she is first blackmailed and then sent to investigate a nearby murder. Her life, and the lives of her colleague and new husband, are put in jeopardy as she becomes embroiled in a conspiracy.
Her life, and the lives of her colleague and new husband, are put in jeopardy as she becomes embroiled in a conspiracy.
Finally, at #12, we have "The Blue" by Nancy Bilyeau. Genevieve, an English-born descendant of Huguenots, yearns to be a renowned artist. The problem is, nobody in 18th-century London believes women can seriously practice the craft, so Genevieve resolves to leave for Venice. Her dream is answered when the dapper Sir Gabriel Courtenay makes a proposition: he will send her to Venice if she learns the valuable art of porcelain-making, as well as the significance of the color blue. Genevieve's artistic education takes her to the center of industrial Britain, where a web of espionage intrigue awaits.