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Retro Mystery Book Stacks

The Earl's London Bride by Lauren Royal 

A delightful historical romance (not a mystery) featuring characters with whom to identify and admire. Amethyst Goldsmith and Colin Chase's fates are bound together upon a chance meeting as teenagers. A jewelry maker and the Earl of Greystone cannot possibly be fated, their lives too separated by class and fortune. Another chance meeting during the London fire when Amethyst loses her father, her jewelry shop and a betrothal she dreaded seals their bond. Colin rescues her from certain death and takes her in with nine orphaned children. Colin is betrothed to a woman his family does not like, and they fall instantly in love with Amethyst (Amy) and wish their brother to marry her. But he is determined to marry class and money and use the dowry to rebuild his previously sacked castle. The stage is set for high drama, humor and developing love, even with the formidable stumbling blocks. Will love triumph over all?  An excellent story with no bad language, sex or overt violence. Suitable for late teens to retirees and those tired of treachery, violence and betrayal. ~Review by Sandy Penny, SweetMysteryBooks.blogspot.com. *****Five Stars

The Virgin of the Wind Rose by Glen Craney

Amazon Description: Rookie State Department lawyer Jaqueline Quartermane was never much good at puzzles. But now she must solve a mysterious ancient palindrome to thwart a global religious conspiracy that reaches across five centuries.

Review by Sandy Penny, SweetMysteryBooks.com: Move over, Dan Brown, you've got competition in the historical mystical conspiracy thriller department. I was using auto-reader on this book, so the jumping back and forth from time period to time period was a little difficult at first. Replete with religious fanatics of all faiths, ancient settings, history repeating itself, signs, symbols and curses, hidden agendas, power mongers, predictions of doom, a pile of dead bodies, and multiple unsolved timeless mysteries, it's a wild ride for the modern day unlikely heroine, Jaq and her new love interest / friend Boz. For those who like Dan Brown and Indiana Jones, this will get your juices flowing. I had to read it twice to get all the nuances, and I'm sure I could read it a third time and find so much more. *****Five Stars

Postcards from Pullman by Judith Miller

In the Company of Secrets (Book 1)

This  book reminded me of the old saying, "Oh what a tangled web we weave when first we practice to deceive." When Olivia, a naive young woman apprenticed to lecherous Chef Mallard decides she cannot remain at her post at Lanshire House because she will never yield to him, Lady Charlotte offers her an alternative. They will go to America to Pullman, Illinois, the company town built by the railroad magnate. Olivia's cousin works there, and Lady Charlotte wants to follow her lover who also works for Pullman. When it turns out Lady Charlotte is pregnant, they concoct a story that she is a widow, and falsify a letter of recommendation from Lady Charlotte's mother that lands Olivia an assistant chef position at the Pullman Hotel. That original lie grows into a monster that threatens to consume Olivia, and she is at a loss as to how to remedy the untenable situation. As she grows to love one man, another pursues her, and neither of them knows her true story. This is not a mystery, but a literary historical fiction novel placed in the 1890s. It is well researched, well written, and compelling. In the end, Olivia turns to God to help her sort out her life and lies, as was the custom at the time. She stands to lose everything if she tells the truth, but she can no longer live with her guilt. It's a wonderful story of overcoming adversity, finding one's true core and accepting the consequences of one's choices in life. *****Five Stars, and I can't wait to read the rest of the series. ~Review by Sandy Penny, SweetMysteryBooks.blogspot.com. 

Bloody Lessons (A Victorian San Francisco Mystery) by M. Louisa Locke

As the series continues, Annie Fuller, boarding house mistress AKA Madam Sibyl, astrological financial consultant, deals with her resistance to her relationship with up and coming attorney, Nate Dawson. When Nate's sister, Laura Dawson moves into the boarding house to teach in a San Francisco School and save for college, things get more complicated. Laura is assaulted just outside the boarding house, and has no idea who the assailant is, but he seemed to know her, accusing her of ruining his life. Annie gets involved in helping solve the mystery when a worse crisis pops up, Laura's best friend dies when she falls down the stairs, and it looks like she might have been pushed. In her effects they find threatening notes accusing her of immorality. The story gets caught up in the headline issues of the 1880s when teacher salaries are slashed to the bone, and accusations of favoritism and sexual misconduct in awarding teaching positions comes up. I love how the author incorporates the headlines from the time period that companion with the story. It lends an air of authenticity and realism to the tales. It gets very dangerous for Nate's sister Laura and some others in the household, and Annie is resolved to solve the mysteries and find out who is sending poison pen letters. Many lies, hidden identities and deadly secrets surface. I love this author and this series, and I highly recommend reading all of it. Five Stars. ~Review by Sandy Penny, SweetMysteryBooks.blogspot.com. 

Uneasy Spirits by M. Louisa Locke 
A Victorian San Francisco Mystery

Spirits, Mediums, Frauds and Romance ... This is the second book in this series that I have read. I loved the first one, and this one is even better. The plot is more complicated, and the characters more developed. We get to know the regular cast of characters in more depth, the mysterious spiritualist villains are compelling, and the "bad man" is truly devious, hidden and evil. Annie Fuller is a truly gifted investment advisor in the 1800s, but who wants to take investment advice from a woman, no matter how smart, in that time period? To give her more opportunity to pursue this talent and support herself after her husband dies, she pretends to be an astrologer, Madame Sibyl, and gives advice under the guise of astrological guidance. In this book, she comes in contact with psychic mediums who may be fraudulent, controlling their clients in some way, and extorting money from them. When one of her boarding house residents asks her to check them out, she feels obligated to undertake the investigation. She ends up facing her own deceptions as well as her fears of getting romantically involved and having to depend on someone else. It's a great story, a complex plot, and a very human emotional drama. I love Locke's writing, and I will continue to read her books. It's also a nice diversion from modern life and uses many historical details to flesh out the story. I give it five stars. ~Review by Sandy Penny, SweetMysteryBooks.blogspot.com

The Forsaken Inn by Anna Katharine Green

This is a well written historical tale of lies, hidden treasure, and manipulation. It is dark and real and easily accepted as true. I thoroughly enjoyed it in the style of The Headless Horseman. There is something mysterious going on, but no one seems to know exactly what it is. There are rumors that warn against staying at the Inn, and if you do, don't stay in the Oak Parlor which is dark and damp and has a sense of foreboding. But still there are those who request it. What is it that brings them in asking for the Oak Parlor? Is it haunted and if so, by whom? You'll have to come to the Inn to find out. And even then, you may not learn its dark secrets. I like it very much. Well done. ~ Review by Sandy Penny, Founder of SweetMysteryBooks.blogspot.com .

Click here for a list of Anna Katharine Green novels on Amazon

Steve Berry, premier historical novelist, is the New York Times and #1 internationally bestselling author of The Lincoln Myth, The King’s Deception, The Columbus Affair, The Jefferson Key, The Emperor’s Tomb, The Paris Vendetta, The Charlemagne Pursuit, The Venetian Betrayal, The Alexandria Link, The Templar Legacy, The Third Secret, The Romanov Prophecy, and The Amber Room. His books have been translated into 40 languages with 17,000,000 copies in 51 countries.  They consistently appear in the top echelon of The New York Times, USA Today, and Indie bestseller lists.

History lies at the heart of every Steve Berry novel. It’s his passion, one he shares with his wife, Elizabeth, which led them to create History Matters, a foundation dedicated to historic preservation. Since 2009 Steve and Elizabeth have crossed the country to save endangered historic treasures, raising money via lectures, receptions, galas, luncheons, dinners and their popular writers workshops. To date, over 2,000 students have attended those workshops. In 2012 and 2013 Steve’s devotion to historic preservation was recognized by the American Library Association, which named Steve it’s spokesperson for National Preservation Week. 

Among his other honors is the Royden B. Davis Distinguished Author Award; the 2013 Barnes & Noble Writers for Writers Award given by Poets & Writers; the 2013 Anne Frank Human Writes Award; and the Silver Bullet, bestowed in 2013 by International Thriller Writers for his philanthropic work. He is a founding member of International Thriller Writers—a group of more than 2,500 thriller writers from around the world—and served three years as its co-president.  

Elizabeth Peters . (AKA Barbara Mertz) famous Egyptologist wrote the Amelia Peabody Series of Egyptian Mystery Novels . Crocodile on the Sandbank . Naked Once more . The Curse of the Pharaohs . A River in the Sky . The Mummy Case . Lord of the Silent . 

Brendan DuBois . Historical Suspense/Mystery/Thrillers 

Award winning mystery/suspense author Brendan DuBois is a one-time "Jeopardy!" game show champion. Most recently, Brendan's short story "A Ticket Out" --- originally published in 1987 in Ellery Queen's Mystery Magazine --- was included in "Best American Noir Stories of the Century," edited by James Ellroy and Otto Penzler, and published in 2010 by Houghton Mifflin. In June 2000, 

DuBois was honored when one of his short stories, "The Dark Snow," --- originally appearing in Playboy magazine --- was published in the anthology, "Best American Mystery Stories of the Century," from Houghton Mifflin, edited by Otto Penzler and Tony Hillerman. Other authors in that anthology included Raymond Chandler, O. Henry, Flannery O'Connor and John Steinbeck. This past summer, DuBois published two novels in his science fiction trilogy, THE EMPIRE OF THE NORTH. The first novel was THE NOBLE WARRIOR, followed by THE NOBLE PRISONER.

His latest hardcover novel, DEADLY COVE, was published in July 2011 by St. Martin's Press. DEADLY COVE is the seventh novel in the Lewis Cole mystery series, and takes place during a deadly anti-nuclear demonstration at a nuclear power plant near Lewis' home town of Tyler Beach, N.H. His previous novel, FINAL WINTER, was published in January 2008 by Five Star Press. This novel had been earlier published in Great Britain. A few months prior to FINAL WINTER, another thriller, TWILIGHT, was released in the United States by St. Martin's Press. TWLIIGHT - which received a starred review from Publisher's Weekly - tells the tale of a UN inspection team at work in the United States after a devastating terrorist attack. This novel had earlier appeared in Great Britain under the title, DEAD OF NIGHT. TWILIGHT was also published in Spain, Italy and Germany Prior to TWILIGHT, St. Martin's Press in September 2006 published PRIMARY STORM. This sixth book in the Lewis Cole series has Lewis involved in investigating an assassination attempt of a presidential candidate during the New Hampshire presidential primary. FINAL WINTER, was released in April 2006 by his British publisher, Time Warner UK. FINAL WINTER depicts a supposed terrorist plot to destroy the United States that involves betrayal, heartbreak, and breath-taking courage. Prior to FINAL WINTER, his latest Lewis Cole mystery, BURIED DREAMS, was released in July 2004 by St. Martin's Press in the United States. This fifth Lewis Cole mystery novel examines the puzzling death of an amateur archaeologist who believes that Vikings had settled along the New Hampshire coastline more than a thousand years ago. 

Prior to TWILIGHT and FINAL WINTER, his most recent thriller, BETRAYED, was published in 2003 by St. Martin's Press in the United States and by Time Warner Books UK in Great Britain. This suspense thriller took a new look -- and provided a stunning new revelation -- to the enduring mystery of the fate of nearly 2,000 servicemen missing in action during the Vietnam War. 

BETRAYED followed his thriller SIX DAYS, which was published in 2001 by the British publisher, Little, Brown (now Time Warner UK). It depicts a plot to overthrow the government of the United States and was called "A well-paced, exciting 'what-if thriller' " by the newspaper, Irish Independent. His most widely-published suspense-thriller, RESURRECTION DAY, has received world-wide acclaim. First published in 1999, it takes place in October 1972, ten years after the Cuban Missile Crisis erupted into a full-scale atomic war, destroying the Soviet Union and decimating the United States. Called "one of the most inventive novels of alternative history since Robert Harris' FATHERLAND." 

RESURRECTION DAY is a chilling tale of what might have been. RESURRECTION DAY was called "brilliant" in a starred review from Publisher's Weekly, which also said it was "what-if thriller fiction at its finest." RESURRECTION DAY has also been published in Great Britain, Germany, Holland, Italy and Japan, and will also be published in Estonia and Poland. At the 58th World Science Fiction Convention in Chicago on September 2nd, 2000, RESURRECTION DAY received the Sidewise Award for Best Alternative History Novel of 1999. DuBois' first novel, DEAD SAND, a murder mystery set in his home state, was published in 1994 by Otto Penzler Books, a division of Macmillan Books. The sequel to DEAD SAND, called BLACK TIDE, was published in 1995. Both are now available in paperback from Pocket Books. The third Lewis Cole novel, SHATTERED SHELL, was published by St. Martin's Press in 1999. The fourth Lewis Cole novel, KILLER WAVES, was published in June 2002, also by St. Martin's Press. All these novels -- plus the latest, DEADLY COVE -- feature Lewis Cole, a magazine writer and former Department of Defense research analyst, who investigates things mysterious in and around the New Hampshire seacoast. 

In 2010, the readers of Deadly Pleasures and Mystery News awarded him the Barry Award, for Best Mystery Short Story of the Year, for his story "The High House Writer," which was published in the July/August 2009 issue of Alfred Hitchcock's Mystery Magazine. He also won the Barry Award in 2007 for for his story "The Right Call," which appeared in the September/October 2006 issue of Ellery Queen's Mystery magazine. The Barry Award was named in the memory of well-known and well-respected mystery fan and reviewer Barry Gardner. In 2005, he received the Al Blanchard Crime Fiction Award for Best Short Crime Fiction Story at the fourth annual New England Crime Bake, a mystery convention organized by the New England Chapter of Mystery Writers of America and Sisters in Crime. This short story, "The Road's End," appeared in the Windchill crime anthology, published by Level Best Books. 

Larry Winebrenner, Timaeus the Tracker and Bron, Trek Master

Timaeus the Tracker . When the most famous private investigator in the Roman Empire was asked by the acting governor of Judea to accomplish an assignment, the Tracker---as all such private investigators of the time were called---liked neither the assignment nor the man who made it.  For one thing, the poor shepherdess who saved his life and nursed him back to health, awaited him. Although he was immensely wealthy and his background that of the highest social class, he was going to ask her to marry him. Would she accept? She hated wealthy people. She just didn't know he was wealthy. But this assignment stood in the way. It didn't help that the Zealot rebels thought he was working for Rome to defeat them. They wanted him dead. He believed that completion of the assignment would also mean death, so that the matter would remain secret.

Bron, Trek Master . The story of a pre-civilized tribe intent on finding new resources while a dominant tribe tries to prevent them from leaving their present area. Hope for a better area to live in is provided by Bron, an exile who has returned from a region no human has ever returned from. Bron is not chosen as community leader, but agrees to be a guide to a region the local poet has named The Valley of Light while calling their present domicile The Valley of Darkness. Not only does Bron serve as trusted pathfinder, but finds himself frequently in the role of community hero called to save the group from some unexpected danger. The struggling community finds itself fleeing cannibals, facing child loss, staggering under earthquake, overcoming mountain wild weather, confronting wild animals, and dealing with group rebellion on their way to a new paradise with its own set of problems. The group overcomes every obstacle, yet suffers the frustrations and fatalism of daily living faced by any group in any time or place. Yet they discover face-to-face love making, fire-making, and the value of compromise-making in one short novel covering the actual time frame for such adventure of several centuries. All in one entertaining story.

Cayman Gold by John Hankins . Historical/Contemporary fiction in two parts, beginning with the last days of Hitler's Third Reich, in his Fuhrerbunker, where a sinister plan is approved by the Fuhrer himself. It allows certain high-ranking Nazi S.S. officials the right to remove and transport (through use of specially modified submarines-Uboats)illicitly acquired gold bullion and other assets, to countries still friendly to Germany. While on their perilous escape route, one U-boat--along with its precious cargo--is sunk by a British destroyer, but not before discharging its secret cargo on an unknown island in the Carribean. Some fifty years later, in part two, the missing cache is discovered by an American family visiting the Cayman Islands. Their unexpected find leads to a murder, kidnapping, and the sudden convergence of foreign agents and Neo-Nazis to what had once been a peaceful island paradise. Full of adventure, intrigue, patches of well-placed humor, along with excellent character development.

Historical Novels by Jim Musgrave

"Forevermore" would have certainly qualified for Poe's Tales of Mystery and Imagination!! May 2, 2013

I adore Edgar Allan Poe and when I started "Forevermore" by Jim Musgrave I thought, "Oh no ... another book about how bad Poe was." I was in for a marvelous shock! The author, Jim Musgrave, envisioned a young man who admired Poe, even lived in his cottage, and wished to find out why and how Poe died and who was responsible for the death of the dark poet. Delving into Poe's life just before he died, Patrick O'Malley began his quest into Poe's death. The search for the truth led him to many famous writers such as Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, who hated Poe. John Anderson, the owner of a tobacco shop, who violated a young woman who worked for him, is another. She was the famous "Mary" from one of Poe's novels. O'Malley was told Anderson paid Poe to write the tale to avoid suspicion regarding her death. Oddly enough, John Anderson lived in Sleepy Hollow made famous by the tale of the "Headless Horseman". Other famous names were sprinkled throughout this mystery. Literary references ran rampant and Musgrave was adept at making them fit into his tale. You will also be introduced to the low life. McKenzie, who became a protector, was head of the Plug Uglies. I'll let you read the book to find out what that means. I also met a certain Madame who introduced O'Malley to heights he had never attained before. You will find Joshua Reynolds a person who could have been the subject of Poe's worst visions. Buy it now.

There is no generally accepted reason for Poe's death. Some said alcohol, some dementia and others believed diabetes. We know he died in Baltimore in the gutter, dressed like a bum. Mr. Musgrave weaved a wonderful tale and came up with a perfectly believable reason for not only how Poe died, but also why he died like a bum. He was killed. If you want to know by whom, you will have to read the book.  Carol Piner - Kindle Book Review

Michelle Moran Historical Novels 

Ellis Peters was a Woman . Brother Cadfael (according to Wiki) is the fictional main character in a series of historical murder mysteries written between 1977 and 1994 by the linguist-scholar Edith Pargeter under the name "Ellis Peters." The character of Cadfael himself is a Welsh Benedictine monk living at Shrewsbury Abbey, in western England, in the first half of the 12th century. The historically accurate stories are set between about 1135 and about 1145, during "The Anarchy", the destructive contest for the crown of England between King Stephen and Empress Maud. Sadly for the many avid readers, there will be no more Brother Cadfael novels written as Ellis Peters died in 1995.