Today's read-alike choice is Jacqueline Winspear, whose newest book, Journey to Munich, has been very popular at Lake Forest Library. Winspear and her enchanting protagonist, Maisie Dobbs, rise to the top among Historical British Mysteries.
Maisie is a plucky and intelligent young woman who began as a servant and now runs her own private investigation firm. While these are technically cozy mysteries with their well-drawn characters and setting, the plots are complex and well-crafted, and the series has a darker tone due to Maisie's experiences as a nurse during World War I, described through flashbacks. These are well plotted and compelling mysteries that also highlight the human costs of war. Start with: Maisie Dobbs.
Dorothy L. Sayers's mysteries feature not only devilishly clever plots that delight traditional mystery readers, but also the graceful writing, nuanced characters, and beautifully evoked settings often found in literary fiction. Series character Lord Peter Wimsey deepens and grows more subtle as the books progress, especially after he meets Harriet Vane, who comes to excel at investigation herself. The interesting supporting characters, strong sense of place in varied settings, and rich use of language round out a satisfying reading experience in each story. Start with: Whose Body.
Frances Brody writes cozy historical mysteries that are intricately plotted and well researched, focused mainly on Yorkshire, England in the interwar years. Brody offers social history and cultural commentary as well, discussing such issues as labor agitation and the social fallout of the Boer war. Her writing is lush, her pace leisurely, and her stories suspenseful and interesting.
Like Maisie Dobbs, the protagonist- Kate Shackleton is from a working class background and served as a nurse during World War I. Working as a private detective, she see the problems that came from the war. Start with Dying in the Wool.
Rennie Airth is a historical mystery writer who sets his books in Britain -- either the countryside or in London -- around the time of World War I. He effectively summons the uncertainty, gloom, and despair of that ugly time, simultaneously conjuring the beauty of England's countryside and the dirt of wartime London. Airth also convincingly describes the latest advances in forensic science and criminal psychology, all the while keeping us immersed in the nuances of a classic mystery story. Airth's protagonists are fully-realized: driven, self-doubting, and troubled and his readers will enjoyably share their travails. Start with: River of Darkness.
James R. Benn
James R. Benn's well-researched and richly detailed historical novels strongly evoke wartime life, as both soldier and civilian. His suspenseful mystery series featuring Boston cop cum soldier/investigator Billy Boyle offers intriguing puzzles and dramatic action, while thoroughly exploring often little-known aspects of World War II, such as institutional racism and wartime Vatican politics. Through fiction and nonfiction, he also investigates PTSD and other aftereffects of war and violence, writing with great beauty about the deep emotions and motivations of his vividly realized characters. Start with: Billy Boyle.
Mary Miley's historical mysteries are also set in the 1920s. Miley's protagonist is also a plucky, intelligent young woman sleuth. Complex women and the well drawn secondary characters give depth to the intricate stories, which are pitch perfect with historical detail. These are more leisurely paced, cozy-like mysteries. Start with The Impersonator.