Similar to Brother Cadfael
April 1, 2005 7:15 AM   Subscribe

Books: I like the Brother Cadfael mystery series by Ellis Peters. Who else would I like (murder mysteries with historical accuracy set in pre-20th century times)? Looking for something that's a series.
posted by nancoix to Media & Arts (15 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
Try Patricia Finney's Elizabethan spy thrillers (Firedrake's Eye, Unicorn's Blood, Gloriana's Torch).
posted by thomas j wise at 7:52 AM on April 1, 2005

Definitely try the Marcus Didius Falco series, by Lindsey Davis (The Silver Pigs, Shadows in Bronze, etc.), a series of detective novels set in ancient Rome.

"Like all good historical mystery fiction writers, Lindsey Davis attends to historical details and creates engaging characters in a complex plot. In her Marcus Didius Falco series, she covers the known world, her gumshoe traveling to Davis' native England, as well as the Roman provinces of Asia and Africa, where Falco and his beloved senator's daughter, Helena Justina, take care of family business. " (

A list of the books in the series
Online discussion of the latest book
Entry from author database (which might serve you no more suggestions, too.
posted by whatzit at 8:00 AM on April 1, 2005

I read two similar books by Caleb Carr (The Alienist and The Angel of Darkness). While not a series per se, they do involve the same main characters and occur in mid to late 1800's NYC (I think...there were definitely chases in horse-drawn carriages). I enjoyed them and if you choose to read them I hope you will too!
posted by LunaticFringe at 8:01 AM on April 1, 2005

Not a series, but you might like Umberto Eco's The Name of the Rose.
posted by jbrjake at 8:12 AM on April 1, 2005

ew. that should have been "serve you for more suggestions, too" up there.
posted by whatzit at 8:30 AM on April 1, 2005

I haven't read them for years, but I remember the Charlotte and Thomas Pitt mysteries by Anne Perry being quite good: they're a couple in Victorian London, he's a policeman, prostitutes get killed, etc. etc.
posted by SoftRain at 8:36 AM on April 1, 2005

My favorite Victorian mystery of all time- historically accurate because it was written at the time ;-) - is Wilkie Collins's _The Moonstone_. Check it out.
posted by bobot at 9:02 AM on April 1, 2005

Perhaps try 2 books by Andrew Martin, both set in Victorian England and both with the central figure of a working railwayman of the period. The first is 'The Necropolis Railway', the second 'The Blackpool Highflyer'. Both are highly detailed but with a good eye for character. Not enough for a series as yet, but he's still writing.
posted by biffa at 9:03 AM on April 1, 2005

I highly recommend Eco's The Name of the Rose as well, though it is not a series. It is a great book though. Murder mystery with medieval monks, complete with heresies and all kinds of fun!
posted by synecdoche at 10:03 AM on April 1, 2005

Also consider Laura Joh Rowland's Sani Ichiro series set in feudal Japan. Some decent samurai noir going on there.
posted by robocop is bleeding at 10:30 AM on April 1, 2005

You might like The Daughter of Time, by Josephine Tey. It's set now-ish, but frequent trips back to the past. Impeccably researched, as far as I know.
posted by dirtynumbangelboy at 10:41 AM on April 1, 2005

Robert Van Gulik's Judge Dee mysteries.

They're set in Ming Dynasty China. Judge Dee is not only a judge, but also does his own detective work.
posted by subatomiczoo at 11:29 AM on April 1, 2005

"A Plague on Both Your Houses" by Suzanna Gregory is the first novel in a series set in 14th c. Cambridge University. ("the Matthew Bartholomew mysteries")

Edward Marston has written two separate series of historical mysteries--"The Domesday Chronicles" set in 11th century England, and the Nicholas Bracewell mysteries, set in Elizabethian England.

the Sister Fidelma mysteries by Peter Tremayne are great for the historical aspect (the stories are set in 7th century Ireland, and the author (real name: Peter Berresford Ellis) is actually a professor of ancient Celtic society). A warning--he's not really a masterful storyteller, and his prose can be really clunky. but the books are full of real history and cultural bits which make his prose tolerable.

another place to check is Seattle Mystery Bookshop (they handle on-line inquiries). Describe books that you like, and why you liked them (time period, historical accuracy, type of lead character), and they can recommend new series.
posted by luneray at 11:59 AM on April 1, 2005

A second vote for the Judge Dee books, they're great. Some of them are actually based on original ancient Chinese detective novels. Van Gulik's first book in the series was actually a translation of the original Chinese Judge Dee novel, then he wrote books and stories of his own based in part on his research. Seriously, if you want historical mysteries, you really want Judge Dee. I also like the Roman times Roma Sub Rosa mystery books that Steven Saylor writes, although you might want to read them in order, since there are story arcs of sorts.
posted by unreason at 1:35 PM on April 1, 2005

I recall liking Van Gulik's Judge Dee novels, but the Chinese original is genuinely fascinating. More information here (warning: stylized female nude illustration from one of the Van Gulik novels--possibly NSFW).
posted by thomas j wise at 5:02 PM on April 1, 2005

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