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11 Historical Mystery Books for Fans of Ellis Peters

Celebrate the iconic author with these thrilling mysteries set in the past.

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  • Photo Credit: Wikimedia Commons

Edith Pargeter changed the world and the lives of her fans during her magnificent life and career as an author. Combining the threads of history with thrills of mystery and suspense, her work transcends time and provides excitement to be read time and time again. During her writing career, Pargeter wrote under numerous pen names. Under the name Ellis Peters she wrote one of her most recognized series, the Brother Cadfael medieval mysteries.

Peters’s novels spread across genres from historical fiction and mystery to nonfiction writing and Czech translations. Growing up, Pargeter did not attend university, so she was a self-taught scholar in the topics that interested her and inspired many of her books. 

The Brother Cadfael medieval mysteries have often been recognized as popularizing the genre that would come to be called historical mystery. In 1994 she was appointed Officer of the Order of the British Empire, and in 1999, the Crime Writers’ Association established the Ellis Peters Historical Dagger Award for the best historical crime novel of the year.

For avid fans of Ellis Peters looking for books that complement her work, look no further. We have compiled a list of 11 books that bring new thrills and mysteries with the same essence as Peters's novels.

Related: 12 Best Ellis Peters Books for Every Kind of Mystery Fan



By J. Robert Janes

Hermann Kohler and Jean-Louis St-Cyr were fighting for opposing sides during the Great War. Twenty years later, the men return to Alsace as partners: a French policeman and a Gestapo officer who investigate mundane, everyday crimes.

Returning to Alsace in 1943, the country is unrecognizable. War has destroyed everything and even just speaking a word of French is enough to lose one’s freedom. The two officers are summoned to the abandoned carnival grounds where prisoners are stuck manufacturing textiles. 

When two prisoners kill themselves, a conspiracy larger than them all will be uncovered. While the war may be over, the feelings remain the same.

The Conjurer

The Conjurer

By Cordelia Frances Biddle

Martha Beale is a twenty-six-year-old single woman living in Philadelphia in 1842. As the sole heir to her father’s estate, she protects her and her family as much as possible. One day, when her father does not show up for lunch, Martha knows something is wrong. 

Upon finding her father’s abandoned hunting rifle by the river, she refuses to believe he is dead. She sets off on her own discreet investigation into the disappearance of her father. However, during these times it is extremely dangerous for a woman to be investigating a dangerous situation alone.

The Unpleasantness at the Bellona Club

The Unpleasantness at the Bellona Club

By Dorothy L. Sayers

Bellona Club is the go-to spot for Veterans of the Great War. However, the heros that gather at the club are not the celebratory type. They sip on whiskey, stare into the unknown, and complain about old injuries and shrinking pensions.

The aged General Fentiman was a great soldier of the Crimean War, but one day he dies while sitting at his favorite spot inside the Bellona Club. Across town, his sister passes on at the same moment as he. With both of them dead, their half-million pound inheritance is left with no rightful owner.

As the nation celebrates, people begin to have suspicions of foul play being involved. Someone would have to have a lot of nerve to kill a well-respected general, but it seems that just may be the case.

Related: 13 Riveting Historical Mysteries for Mystery Fans and History Buffs Alike

The Prisoner of the Riviera

The Prisoner of the Riviera

By Janice Law

In postwar England, the battle may be over, but darkness still looms over London. One night as the young painter Francis Bacon leaves a gambling club with his lover, the two witness a man gunned down in the middle of the street. Attempting to save him, the two take the man to the hospital, but it is too late.

Soon after, the club owner tells Bacon he will cover the painter’s gambling tab if he delivers a package to the dead man’s widow, Madame Renard, on the French Riviera. Only after Bacon delivers the parcel, he learns that Madame Renard is also dead, and the woman he handed the package to is an imposter.

A Late Phoenix

A Late Phoenix

By Catherine Aird

The town of Berebury, England was destroyed throughout WWII by the Nazis dropping bomb after bomb onto the area. After three decades, the locals are finally able to begin piecing their home back together. 

However, one day a pregnant girl is found dead in one of the bomb craters. While this is not an unusual site, the manner of her murder is. She appears to have been shot in the spine, meaning there is a killer on the loose. Detective Inspector C. D. Sloane and his assistant are called onto the scene to solve a mystery that has been buried for years.

Related: Ellis Peters: Beloved Creator of “Brother Cadfael”

Death at Tammany Hall

Death at Tammany Hall

By Charles O'Brien

Tammany Hall is the headquarters for the Democratic Party’s corruption and intimidation plots in 1894 New York. Former NYPD detective Harry Miller had his own reputation tarnished by scandals in Tammany Hall while investigating a case as he was falsely accused and wrongfully convicted of extortion.

Now, seven years later Miller is working in a law firm office, yet he still faces troubles with his career from the Tammany Hall offense. Finally ready to clear his name, he enlists the help of his good friend, Private Investigator Pamela Thompson.

In order to prove his innocence, they must uncover the truth about a murdered taxi driver, a missing portfolio, and the money trail leading them to the ones behind the crimes.

The Scarlet Pimpernel

The Scarlet Pimpernel

By Baroness Orczy

With the French Revolution in full swing and the guillotine awaiting its next victims, hopeless families attempt to flee even if they know they won’t be able to escape. Every aristocrat has been declared a traitor, and the bloodshed won’t stop until every last one has paid the price.

But one man stands in the way of the mobs. Called the Scarlet Pimpernel, he mysteriously arrives and begins rescuing innocent aristocrats. Taking them across the English Channel to safety, he is a hero like no other. No one knows who he truly is, but they’re going to find out if it’s the last thing they do.

Related: Murder Most Foul: 11 Beguiling Victorian Mysteries

What Angels Fear

What Angels Fear

By C. H. Harris

In 1811 England, revolution haunts the upper class and King George III’s power, and when a beautiful woman is found dead on the stairs of a church near Westminster Abbey, the dueling pistol at the scene points to one man -- Sebastian St. Cyr, Viscount Devlin, a nobleman shattered from the Napoleonic Wars.

Now running for his life, Sebastian must relive his days as an officer in war if he wants any chance of survival. Forced to track down the real killer to clear his name, Sebastian won’t give up until he catches the man responsible unless he gets caught first.

The Moonstone

The Moonstone

By Wilkie Collins

Called the “first, longest, and the best of modern English detective novels,” by T. S. Elliot, The Moonstone is one of Wilkie Collins’s most recognized pieces of work.

The Moonstone is a religious relic housed in the sacred statue of the Hindu god of the moon and guarded by three Brahim priests. However, Colonel John Herncastle is a corrupt British Army officer in India who cannot resist the Moonstone.

After killing the priests guarding the stone, he takes it back to England and gifts it to his niece Rachel. He knows what trouble will come with it, and when the Moonstone disappears on her eighteenth birthday, a thrilling and complex mystery begins.

Related: 10 Underrated British Mystery Books to Add to Your Bookshelf Now

The Anatomist’s Wife

The Anatomist’s Wife

By Anna Lee Huber

In 1830 Scotland, Lady Darby’s husband has recently passed away. She finds comfort at her sister’s estate where she fills her day painting. When her hosts throw a party for the high class London society, Kiera is seen as unnatural to them as her husband was -- the wife of an anatomist who uses her artistic talents to suit his own macabre purposes.

Kiera wants to move on from her past, but when a house guest is murdered, her brother-in-law enlists her to use her knowledge of the human body to help aid the insufferable Sebastian Gage. 

However, rumors begin to swirl, and a string of threatening notes put Kiera and her family at great risk. In order to protect herself and the ones she loves, she must uncover the truth of who the real killer is.

The Face of a Stranger

The Face of a Stranger

By Anne Perry

The accident has left him without any memory of his life before. They say his name is William Monk, and apparently he is a London police detective. But, he is going to hide that truth for as long as he can.

However, being assigned to investigate the murder of a Crimean War hero proves extremely difficult for someone who can’t remember how to do their job. Now, Monk has two mysteries he needs to solve.

Feature photo via Wikimedia Commons