There is nothing more enticing than a mystery that has been unsolved for centuries.

Historical mystery books make fantastic subgenres of mystery and historical fiction. These books are for you if you enjoy a setup in a different historical time and a whodunit mystery satisfaction.

Historical mysteries are a great way to learn about history while being entertained. Some of the most important themes of these books include historical conspiracies, murders in history, and thefts from famous historical figures. By examining these common themes, readers can learn more about the authors' backgrounds and personal interests.

Whether you fancy a design with a murder investigation or a mystery that draws upon past events, any of these books will have you hooked.

How Do Historical Mystery Books Typically Differ From Other Mystery Novels?

One of the key distinctions between historical mystery books and other mystery novels is that the former are set in a specific time period. This can be anything from ancient times to the mid-20th century. In addition, many historical mystery books incorporate real-life events and characters into their storylines.

Another distinguishing factor is that, often times, the crimes in historical mystery novels are based on actual events. The author will do extensive research in order to ensure that the plot is as accurate as possible. This can make for an interesting read, as readers are able to learn about history while also enjoying a good mystery novel.

Finally, historical mystery novels typically have a different tone than other mysteries. They are often more serious and introspective, as the author takes care to depict life during that particular time period accurately.

Now let's see some outstanding historical mystery books:

What Are The Best Historical Mystery Books?

Mae's Second Chance, by Jacie Middlemann (2021)

The Mae's Second Chance is a heartwarming women's mystery fiction. This boxset includes the first three books of the series.

The series follows the story of the Engstrom family. In the first book, Home to the Valley, I read about Julie Engstrom, a mother who is struggling to cope with the loss of her loved one. However, things take an unexpected turn when the family receives a financial windfall, allowing them to move to a ghost town called Mae's Second Chance.

In Treasures Found, I watched as the family settled into their new life and adjusted to the heat of the South. Their friend from back home, Anderson McGuire, also comes to visit and lends a helping hand in the restoration of the town's century-old buildings. However, as he spends more time there, he realizes that his help is needed in more ways than one.

In the third book, Valley Secrets, I discovered that the town's founder, Mae, had a mysterious past, and Julie is determined to uncover the truth. Throughout the series, I witnessed the family's journey of grief and healing, as well as their bond with the town's residents.

Overall, the Mae's Second Chance is an emotional and heartwarming read, perfect for fans of historical mystery.

His Fatal Legacy, by Heather Atkinson (2023)

Heather Atkinson's enthralling Victorian mystery fiction is set in 1896 Edinburgh and follows the story of Amy Alardyce, whose once-ideal life has been shattered. Her eldest son, Robert, now an adult and married to his childhood sweetheart Jane, is grappling with the sinister urges inherited from his wicked father, Matthew. As impoverished women are preyed upon in the city, Amy suspects her son's involvement. When Inspector Murphy begins his investigation, Amy faces a difficult dilemma: expose her son as a monster or endanger her own life to protect him from the repercussions of his actions.

Fans of Emily Organ, Kate Saunders, and Ann Granger will be captivated by the Alardyce series from best-selling author Heather Atkinson. Readers have lauded her mesmerizing storytelling, with many finding it impossible to put the book down and expressing astonishment at the riveting plot. If you haven't yet delved into Atkinson's novels, now is the perfect opportunity to discover her compelling stories. Be aware that this is a revised edition of the previously published Ancestral Tides.

Spiral, by Denise Turney (2022)

In 1944 Memphis, a prominent attorney’s daughter disappears at the height of WWII. What if her disappearance is linked to an abandoned girl hidden in one of Shelby County’s orphanages? What if this murder mystery has stronger connections to the town’s elite more than anyone could imagine?

During the kidnapper’s search, it becomes evident that the attorney’s daughter is not the only one missing. Everyone puts effort into finding her and stopping any other kidnappings, but when a young African American girl starts to get involved, the crimes start getting solved. She can hear from the dead.

Get ready to discover what a deceased attorney’s daughter shares with a gifted but unassuming girl who is also a daughter of another prominent family.

Ordinary Monsters, by J. M. Miro (2022)

Ordinary Monsters is set in the Victorian era. Dr. Berghast, a powerful and mysterious man, leads a strange institute that collects orphans from all over the globe, each with unique powers. Even though Charlie David survived a brutal childhood in Mississippi, he has no scar on his body. His body automatically heals itself. Meanwhile, Marlowe can melt or mend flesh.

Alice Quicke is tasked with escorting Charlie and Marlowe to safety, and they embark on a journey into belonging, the nature of difference, and monstrous shadowy edges.

Wonder and betrayal will follow through London, Tokyo, and finally to an eerie estate on the outskirts of Edinburgh where there are other gifted children too- Ribs, who can become invisible, and Komako, who is a witch and a dust twister.

Someone else wants these talented children and has help from Gaiman-level henchmen.

It is a battle of good vs. evil where the worlds of the living and the dead threaten to collide.

Blackout, by Simon Scarrow (2022)

While the Nazis tighten their chokehold in 1939 Berlin, a blackout is enforced by the Third Reich.

In the middle of a cold winter, the town goes into darkness every night, creating an environment for unspeakable acts as the war rumble gets louder. Then a serial killer brutally murders a young woman.

Criminal Inspector Horst Schenke is tasked with solving the case fast. But his reputation is already compromised, having failed to join the Nazi Party. If he fails to solve this case for any reason, he might just have to deal with fatal consequences.

When a second victim is found, Horst’s worst fears become evident. The investigation will get him more involved with the regime’s darkest corridors. He realizes that danger is in every corner and that the warring Reich factions can be as dangerous as a killer who stalks the city’s streets.

The Darling Dahlias and the Red Hot Poker, by Susan Wittig Albert (2022)

Darling Dahlias is a garden club in Darling, Alabama. It is the 1935 Labor Day weekend, and the club is trying to keep their cool as the sizzling summer ends. But everything is not easy since there is an arsonist loose in town. They strike without reason or rhyme, and no one feels safe anymore.

What’s more, a threatening hurricane is poised to come to Darling, and another storm of a different kind is putting an end to Huey P. Long’s campaign. He is a beloved senator who President Roosevelt considers the most dangerous American man. Amid all these circumstances, several Dahlias have to deal with the powerful attractiveness of a WPA writer’s project head. These volatile mixes are about to burst into flames.

This book is an intrigue of fear, romance, betrayal, and a whodunit dose of a Southern town’s charm.

Dream Town, by David Baldacci (2022)

A WWII veteran Aloysius Archer is in Los Angeles on the eve of 1953. He wants to usher in the new year with his old friend Liberty Callahan. But Callahan’s acquaintance Eleanor Lamb interrupts their evening.

A series of chilling events follow. There are mysterious phone calls, a car loitering outside Eleanor’s house, and a bloody knife in her sink. Fearing that she might be in danger, Eleanor asks Aloysius to look into the matter. But Archer highly suspects that Eleanor is keeping more than she is telling. Just before he can take this case, Eleanor disappears after a dead body turns up in her place.

Archer is now determined to find Eleanor and the murderer. He launches an investigation with his partner Willie and Callahan. He is about to find out more about the darkest Los Angeles corners. Here, cops are more corrupt than criminals, beautiful faces are attached to cutthroat schemers, and influential people are involved in Archer’s client’s disappearance. They will kill him if they catch him on their trail.

The Red Palace, by June Hur (2022)

Enter into 1758 Joseon, Korea. Only few options are available to the capital city’s illegitimate daughters. However, Hyeon studies and works hard and lands herself a job as a palace nurse. Her focus is to keep her head down, perform in her career, and maybe eventually win the approval of her estranged father.

But she is suddenly thrust into a dangerous and dark world of court politics. In just one night, someone murders four women. The principal suspect in this crime is Hyeon’s mentor and closest friend. Hyeon establishes her secret investigation to prove that her teacher is innocent.

While hunting for the truth, she crosses paths with Eojin, who is also working to search for the killer. The evidence starts to point at the Crown Prince. Eojin and Hyeon must work together to explore the palace’s darkest corners and unravel the deadly secrets of this bloodshed.

Final Thoughts on the best Historical Mystery Books

When most people think of historical mysteries, they think of unsolved mysteries from the past. However, there are also a number of historical mysteries that have yet to be solved. These mysteries can involve anything from political scandals to cold cases.

One recent example is the mystery surrounding the death of journalist Michael Hastings. Hastings was a highly respected journalist who had written articles about controversial topics such as the war in Afghanistan and the NSA. In 2013, he died in a car crash under suspicious circumstances. While there has been no definitive answer as to what caused his death, many people believe that he was killed because of his investigative journalism.

If you enjoy historical mysteries, be sure to take a look at our suggested titles. They are excellent choices to help you intriguingly explore the past.

If you enjoyed our list be sure to check also our favorite Kristin Hannah books or alternate history novels.

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