Newest Crime (Historical) Reviews

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The Murder of Harriet Monkton by Elizabeth Haynes

link=Category:{{{rating}}} Star Reviews Crime (Historical), True Crime

But that's just it, she said. It's not Harriet, is it? Not our Harriet. It's some manufactured creature, that exists only for this blessed inquest: something to be summed up like a spirit, to be examined and pored over, to be sneered at and judged. Harriet deserves to be remembered as she was to us, not picked at like carrion.

And that was the problem: it seemed that there were two Harriets. There was the one her friends - a fellow teacher, her would-be lover, her seducer and the man who was her landlord who was also her lover - knew. Some spoke of her as kindly, virtuous and pious, but that was before her body was found behind the chapel which she regularly attended in Bromley. She'd been poisoned - or had taken her own life. After the inquest was opened another Harriet would emerge, one who was about six months pregnant and who had obviously not been living the chaste life expected of a young, unmarried woman in 1843. Full Review

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Greeks Bearing Gifts: Bernie Gunther Thriller 13 by Philip Kerr

link=Category:{{{rating}}} Star Reviews Crime (Historical), Thrillers

Set in Germany in 1957, Greeks Bearing Gifts is a historical crime thriller with everything from dodgy Nazi past histories to insurance fraud. Bernie Gunther is a Berliner, who was a sarjeant during the second world war and now, in this novel, is working in the morgue of a hospital. He finds himself embroiled in a mystery, taking on a new role as an insurance claims investigator. The investigation takes him to Greece, and back into the dark times of the war. With layered plots and double-crossing left, right and centre, there's lots to keep you guessing throughout this story. Full Review

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Pandora's Boy by Lindsey Davis

link=Category:{{{rating}}} Star Reviews Crime (Historical)

Relax, die-hard fans of Falco and his spirited British daughter Albia. Rome continues to be as splendid and as sordid as it ever was, the crimes committed are as complex and intriguing, and our heroine just as determined and cynical, with that light dusting of humour which made tales of her father's exploits so engaging. Newcomers to the series need not fear, by the way: each book contains just enough background detail to make you feel immediately at home. This time, despite some serious misgivings, Albia is investigating the sudden death of a fifteen-year-old girl, described as bright, affectionate and popular. Was she poisoned by an illegal love-potion, or did she die of a broken heart? Full Review Full Review

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Death in the Stars (Kate Shackleton Mysteries) by Frances Brody

link=Category:{{{rating}}} Star Reviews Crime (Historical)

Much as it did in 1999, eclipse fever gripped the country in 1927, but private investigator Kate Shackleton couldn't understand why theatre star Selina Fellini had approached her for help when it seemed that all she needed was for a flight to be arranged to take her from Leeds to Giggleswick School, where she was to view the eclipse. Surely she didn't need a sleuth for this? Kate went ahead and organised the flight, which collected Fellini, comic Billy Moffatt and Kate from Soldiers' Field in Leeds and landed them at the school in good time. It was obvious that the singer was worried about something, but she didn't seem able to explain what it was. Full Review

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Lawless and the House of Electricity by William Sutton

link=Category:{{{rating}}} Star Reviews Crime (Historical)

Campbell Lawless is back, this time tasked with solving a series of terrorist attacks across the nation. Is it the work of the French, as police and public are being led to believe, or someone closer to home? Who can be trusted and what does Roxbury, an innovative inventor previously disgraced, have to do with the bombs used to cause chaos across the country? Employing the services of Molly, the effervescent ragamuffin from his previous adventures, he sets in motion a campaign of subterfuge which uncovers long held secrets, skulduggery and the desperate yearnings beneath Roxbury's constant invention. Full Review

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Seven Dead by J Jefferson Farjeon

link=Category:{{{rating}}} Star ReviewsCrime (Historical)

Ted Lyte was petty criminal, but not usually the housebreaking type. He lacked the courage. However, needs must, and whilst feeling down on his luck he decided to try his chances at an isolated house with a shuttered window. ...he might find a bit of alright behind those shutters! Wot abart it? Ted does indeed find something interesting behind the shutters, but it definitely isn't what he'd hoped. In a locked room he finds seven dead bodies; six men and a woman. Fleeing the house in horror, he is pursued and caught by a passing yachtsman, Thomas Hazeldean, who also happens to be a journalist. Fascinated by Ted's story (and a possible scoop), Hazeldean decides to investigate this curious case and its assortment of odd clues, including a portrait shot through the heart, an old cricket ball and a mysterious note written by one of the victims. Full Review

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The Habit of Murder: The Twenty Third Chronicle of Matthew Bartholomew by Susanna Gregory

link=Category:{{{rating}}} Star Reviews Crime (Historical)

It was 1360 and Michaelhouse was in dire financial straits: they could last a little longer but not that long. Then it seemed that a lifeline might have been thrown to them when they heard that the wealthy Elizabeth de Burgh of the Suffolk town of Clare was dead and it was possible that The Lady, as she was known, had left them a legacy. It seemed that the best thing to do was to go to Clare to claim the money (or to try and prove that it had been intended and should therefore be paid) with all haste. The real mission could be concealed behind the bald statement that they were there to attend the funeral. Matthew Bartholomew was one of the contingent from Michaelhouse. Full Review

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The Painted Queen: an Amelia Peabody Mystery by Elizabeth Peters and Joan Hess

link=Category:{{{rating}}} Star Reviews Crime (Historical)

Amelia Peabody is a no-nonsense lady who endures all manner of murder attempts, kidnappings and sundry other crimes while on archaeological digs in Egypt with equanimity and composure. She is either revered or feared (or both) by villains, museum curators, family and workmen alike for her caustic tongue and the steel-reinforced parasol she brandishes at the first sign of danger. And yet, once the evil-doers have been locked up, precious objects returned to their owners and all injuries bandaged, she still insists on all the decorum of the English abroad: formal dress for dinner and only the politest and least contentious topics for dinner-table conversation. Full Review

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Operation Goodwood: a Mirabelle Bevan Mystery by Sara Sheridan

link=Category:{{{rating}}} Star Reviews Crime (Historical)

In this, the fifth novel in the Mirabelle Bevan Mystery series, we have reached 1955. There is less emphasis on rationing now: time has moved on from the post-war privations we saw in our first encounter with Mirabelle and her warm, cheery companion Vesta in 1951, a time when tearing a stocking was a disaster of the first order. Various types of prejudice are still rife, however, and Sara Sheridan is a real expert at dropping in that small, lightly sketched detail which tells us we are still in a Britain overshadowed by the aftermath of conflict. A woman who walks alone into a bar will not be served; the British Empire is still front-page news, and the colour of a person's skin an almost insurmountable barrier to equality of opportunity. Full Review

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She Be Damned by M J Tjia

link=Category:{{{rating}}} Star Reviews Crime (Historical)

London, 1863: prostitutes in the Waterloo area are turning up dead, their sexual organs mutilated and removed. When another girl goes missing, fears grow that the killer may have claimed their latest victim. The police are at a loss and so it falls to courtesan and professional detective, Heloise Chancey, to investigate. With the assistance of her trusty Chinese maid, Amah Li Leen, Heloise inches closer to the truth. But when Amah is implicated in the brutal plot, Heloise must reconsider whom she can trust, before the killer strikes again. Full Review

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The Irregular: A Different Class of Spy by H B Lyle

link=Category:{{{rating}}} Star Reviews Crime (Historical)

London 1909: Revolution is spreading throughout Russia and Europe. Meanwhile Britain, a land growing accustomed to peace, is becoming a magnet for spies and disruption. Vernon Kell, Head of War Office Counter-Intelligence, knows that the country's equilibrium depends on the discovery and disposal of the growing number of foreign spy networks. Unfortunately his masters in government can't see what he can and Kell's own agents are being killed off too fast for him to collect evidence. That's when he meets Wiggins. This is a man with a superlative background: trained by Sherlock Holmes and, years back, a star of Holmes' child Irregulars. Now Kell is getting somewhere… Let battle commence! Full Review

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An Unlikely Agent by Jane Menczer

link=Category:{{{rating}}} Star Reviews Crime (Historical)

London, 1905. Margaret Trant lives with her ailing, irascible mother in a dreary boarding house in St John's Wood. The pair have fallen on hard times, with only Margaret's meagre salary from a ramshackle import-export company keeping them afloat. When a stranger on the tram hands her a newspaper open at the recruitment page, Margaret spots an advertisement that promises to 'open new horizons beyond your wildest dreams!'. After a gruelling interview, she finds herself in a new position as a secretary in a dingy backstreet shop. But all is not as it seems; she is in fact working for a highly secret branch of the intelligence service, Bureau 8, whose mission is to track down and neutralise a ruthless band of anarchists known as the Scorpions. Margaret's guilty love of detective fiction scarcely prepares her for the reality of true criminality, and her journey of self-discovery forms the heart of this remarkable novel, as she discovers in herself resourcefulness, courage, independence and the first stirrings of love. Full Review

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A Talent for Murder by Andrew Wilson

link=Category:{{{rating}}} Star Reviews Crime (Historical)

Agatha Christie wrote some tantalising crime thrillers back in her day, and here Andrew Wilson makes her a victim to a plot not unlike one of her own. It's all about the mystery, and it really drives the story forward. Agatha is ambushed by a strange man at the train station; she is given a proposition that confuses her and secretly intrigues her. Indeed, for this man wants her to commit a murder. Full Review

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Continental Crimes by Martin Edwards (editor)

link=Category:{{{rating}}} Star Reviews Crime (Historical)

It's not clear whether the short story has gone out of fashion, relegated to the pages of certain types of women's magazines, or whether the magazines in which the format still holds its own are themselves not as high-profile as once they might have been. Perhaps they never were, perhaps we only know about them in retrospect. Whatever the truth of that it would seem that the golden age of the short story, coincided delightfully with the golden age of crime. Full Review

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Prussian Blue: Bernie Gunther Thriller 12 by Philip Kerr

link=Category:{{{rating}}} Star Reviews Crime (Historical)

Bernie Gunther is not your typical hero. In 1939, he was stationed in Berlin as a police officer handling murder cases and occasionally doing work for some high-ranking Nazis. Although never a Nazi party member himself (he was a known member of the Social Democratic Party), he understood that the best thing he could do for himself at that time was to make himself indispensable to men like Reinhard Heydrich and Martin Bormann. So when he is assigned to solve a murder that has occurred at Hitler's Berghof in the Bavarian mountains, he knows that he needs to do it quickly and discreetly – not just for justice's sake, but for his own. He is given exactly one week to apprehend the suspect, and he hopes that with the help of his friend Friedrich Korsch, an investigator with the Krimialpolizei (or Kripo, for short) he just might get lucky. Full Review

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None So Blind by Alis Hawkins

link=Category:{{{rating}}} Star Reviews Crime (Historical)

When a body is accidentally uncovered nearby in 1850, Harry Probert-Lloyd the London barrister has recently returned to his father's house in West Wales due to deteriorating sight. That means Harry is on hand to press for justice, since he knows whose remains they must be. Unfortunately he's up against a few formidable opponents from the past, not least the Rebecca rioters, members of an illegal group from a few years earlier, and officially it looks like justice might not be on the cards. With the assistance of a local clerk, John Davies, Harry takes up the investigation himself, but it seems like both of them know more than they are willing to admit. Will the outcome be worth stirring up all those secrets for? Full Review

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The Age of Olympus (Duncan Forrester Mystery 2) by Gavin Scott

link=Category:{{{rating}}} Star Reviews Crime (Historical)

Whilst part of an SOE mission to kidnap a German commander in Greece during the war, Duncan Forrester came across an ancient Cretan stone, which he hoped could lead to the deciphering of Linear B. The war is now officially over (although a lot of people are still fighting it, mentally if not physically) and Forrester has returned to Athens with his lover, Sophie Amfeldt-Laurvig, intent on getting the necessary permissions to go to Crete and retrieve the stone. It was whilst they were in Athens that Forrester was the unwitting witness to the poisoning of a Greek poet and where he found himself pursued by a man wearing a mask. Strange as all this might seem, Forrester is convinced that the poet was not the intended victim: it should have been a general who has been approached to lead ELAS, the military arm of the Greek communists. He's the sort of charismatic man who could sway a lot of people to follow him adn that would mean certain war. Full Review

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A Time to Tell Lies by Alan Kennedy

link=Category:{{{rating}}} Star Reviews Crime (Historical)

Psychologist Alan Kennedy's fifth novel continues the story he began with Lucy. In the autumn of 1942, Captain Alex Vere and Justine Perry are among the men and women picked up and taken to a stately home in Scotland, where they are trained in spy skills. After this first encounter, Alex is smitten yet uncertain if he will ever see Justine again. The spy's life is dangerous and unpredictable, after all. Six weeks later, though, they meet up again in southwest France, where they have been sent to collect Simone, a Special Operations Executive agent. It's Alex's first mission (Justine's fourth) and all goes horribly awry. Alex ends up in custody at the Gendarmerie, facing a German who knows he has a false passport. Full Review