“Shallow graves always give up their dead.” -- These Shallow Graves
In the 1890s, there was only one acceptable job for a heiress and socialite like Josephine Montford—leveraging her beauty and breeding to marry well and young. None of the teens at Miss Sparkwell’s School for Young Ladies have any goals beyond that—except Jo. She longs to be a gutsy investigative journalist like Nellie Bly. (True fact: In a day when daring careers were only for men, Nellie Bly faked mental illness to be admitted to the Women’s Lunatic Asylum, and the exposé she wrote about it changed mental health care forever.) It’s hard to imagine a dream that could be further outside the seemingly impermeable box of restrictions that Jo’s family and society have constructed for her.
Boynton, Oklahoma: 1917. A stranger comes to town. A nondescript, little man in a bowler hat. Says his name is Nick. Old Nick. He seems drawn to the flaring tempers and anti-foreigner rants that are bubbling up as the United States enters WWI. He can smell the murderous rages and incendiary fear wafting off some of the citizens. For the scared and the angry, he might sidle up behind them and whisper in their ears, "Tell me. Tell me what you want." And then, somehow, their ugly thoughts . . . become reality.
What really happened when genius businessman Sir Owain Lancaster decided he could conquer the Amazon? In the 1800s, it was not so unusual for British gentlemen to take on this kind of task—to prove the superiority of man over the elements and increase our scientific knowledge. In Sir Owain’s case, the natural elements won. Or, perhaps they were horrifically supernatural, as Sir Owain claims. Stephen Gallagher’s Bedlam Detective is determined to find out the truth.
Charles Maddox’s client turned out his daughter years ago for having “fallen,” in the way that Victorian women were said to do. She disappeared into one of London’s many workhouses and by the time her father wanted her back, there was no trace of either her or the child she bore for an unknown father. Lynn Shepherd’s The Solitary House leads readers on a tour of the sights, sounds, and smells of old London’s worst and best neighborhoods—places that often lay cheek by jowl to one another, as Charles struggles to find the missing girl.
There are graphic novels that literally paint then print images onto the page. The Brother Athelstan books are another kind of graphic novel. They have a very visual feel to them, only it’s done with words. Some medieval mysteries are as stuffy as a centuries-old cupboard. P.C. Doherty’s The Nightingale Gallery isn’t like that. Its characters breathe and move and love and murder with a striking vivacity.
In 1760s Boston, there is trouble brewing, and it’s not just the upcoming tea party. A young and beautiful girl from a wealthy family has been murdered mysteriously. It isn’t only a mystery as to who killed her and why—the bigger mystery is how. There’s not a mark on her body. It seems as though it was done by magic, and, in D.B. Jackson’s Thieftaker world, magic is a definite possibility.
Flavia de Luce, an eleven-year-old genius with a flair for chemistry, lives a lonely but intriguing life in the crumbling family mansion. Her lovely older sisters delight in tormenting her, and she returns the favor with diabolical brattiness. What one can do with certain itchy plant extracts and a tube of one’s sister’s favorite lipstick! The Sweetness at the Bottom of the Pie, by C. Alan Bradley, is set in post-World War II England. It’s a simpler time in many respects though things get rather more complicated when Father’s annoying visitor turns up dead in the garden by moonlight.
Twenty years before Jamestown was founded, over 100 women, men, and children came to Virginia to try their luck at starting a colony. They arrived on the stormy shores of what we know now as North Carolina. They were not the first to land there. Two years before, another group of colonists, all men, gave up trying to settle Roanoke Island and sailed back to England. The supply ships arrived too late to save the abandoned first colony, but they left behind fifteen soldiers to mind the fort who soon vanished into the wilds, driven off by an Indian attack.
Widower William Rees drove his wagon into town like a man possessed. Normally an easy-going, itinerant weaver, Rees has just discovered that his kinfolk have cheated him, and his son has run away to be with the Shaker religious community. In 18th-century, rural Maine, it is not so easy to retrieve a teenager who hates you, get your land back, or solve A Simple Murder.
In Steven Saylor’s debut hard-boiled historical mystery, Roman Blood, Gordianus the Finder is an intrepid soul, living in a seedy section of long-ago Rome. All roads lead here and all the up-and-coming politicians--along with displaced, often enslaved people from war-torn lands--make for a sea of trouble in an atmosphere that is by turns torrid, glittering, and dangerous.