Historical Mysteries

Castle garden and pond

For those of us who love to get lost in other worlds, these series fit the bill.

Cadfael ChroniclesEllis Peters’ Cadfael Chronicles, started in the late 1970’s and set in the twelfth century, feature a former soldier-turned monk who solves murders. The stories are richly written and feature some actual historical figures. Derek Jacobi stars in the telvision series. The first book is A Morbid Taste for Bones. 


Dame FrevisseThe Dame Frevisse Series by Margaret Frazer (and Mary Monica Pulver Kuhfeld, who collaborated on the first six titles) features a crime-solving nun in 15th-century England. The stories are filled with intriguing historical detail. First in the series is The Novice’s Tale.


Joliffe SeriesThe Joliffe series by Margaret Frazer is a spinoff of the Dame Frevisse Series, featuring the Frevisse character Joliffe the Player. I’m not familiar with this series.



Sister Fidelma MysteriesPeter Tremayne’s Sister Fidelma Mysteries are set in 7th Century Ireland. Celtic nun Sister Fidelma and her companion Brother Eadulf, a Saxon monk, solve murders.  First in the series is Absolution by Murder (1994) and the most recent, published just a month ago, is Shapeshifter’s Lair.  


The Matthew Bartholomew Mysteries by Susanna Gregory: With 24 books to date, this is a series with promise. It’ll get you through the winter and then some! Matthew,  a 14th-century Cambridge physician who thinks outside the box, solves mysteries with his colleague Brother Michael.  The first book in the series, A Plague on Both Your Houses is set in 1348.


Ursula Blanchard Mysteries

The Ursula Blanchard Series by Fiona Buckley:  Ursula Blanchard is a new lady-in-waiting to Queen Elizabeth and solves murders.  The first book in the series,  To Shield the Queen (1997), gets mildly positive but not amazing reviews on Goodreads. There are 18 titles to date with the most recent published in 2020.


Getorius and Arcadia seriesAlbert Noyer’s Getorius and Arcadia series takes place in 5th-Century Italy – a nice change from all the books set in Britain. There are six books in the series, the first title being The Secundus Papyrus.  I’ve read none of these titles but I’m adding them to my Want to Read shelf on Goodreads.


Ancient Roman Mysteries

I was pleasantly surprised to learn that there is a thriving sub-genre of historical mystery that is set in Ancent Rome. Below are some titles I came across. I have read at least one book from one of the series but honestly don’t remember which it was; it was very long ago.



The Marcus Didius Falco series and Flavia Albia series, both by Lindsey Davis, take place in ancient Rome (first century A.D.). Falco is  a private investigator, and Flavia Albia, his adopted daughter, is also a PI. The Albia series is a spinoff of Falco.  Lindsey Davis is an author I would like to learn more about. It appears Falco may be done, but there is a new Albia book due out in 2021. First Falco book is The Silver Pigs and first Albia book is The Ides of April. 

SPQR by John Maddox Roberts – mystery series takes place in the last century B.C. in Rome.  The main character is (fictional) Roman Senator Decius Caecilius Metellus and a recurring cast of characters. The series was written over the span of twenty years and includes thirteen books. First in the series is The King’s Gambit. 

Libertus Mystery of Roman Britain by Rosemary Rowe – there appear to be eighteen books in this series set in the 2nd century A.D.  Main character is Libertus, a pavement-maker and freedman who has a gift for solving crimes.  First book in the series is The Germanicus Mosaic. 

Steven Saylor’s Roma Sub Rosa series, set in the first century B.C., features detective Gordianus the Finder (what a great name) and his family which includes an adopted son who follows in his footsteps as a solver of crimes. There are sixteen books, including a couple of books of short stories. The books were not written in order; the first book in the chronology of the characters is called The Seven Wonders.