Sunday, September 30, 2012

The Historical Cozy

     Ever wish you could travel in a time machine? While we may not have a Tardis at our disposal, we do have books. It's not only history books that can teach us about the past; cozy mysteries open all different time periods up for our exploration-and we don't have to worry about giving up indoor plumbing!
     Probably one of the first cozies I read was a historical cozy-Crocodile on the Sandbank by Elizabeth Peters, the first Amelia Peabody mystery. To this day it is one of my favorite series, and fortunately for everyone, it's a long running one. The series starts in the "supposedly enlightened decade of 1880" (Peters Crocodile on the Sandbank) and introduces us to Amelia Peabody, an Englishwoman who has just inherited a tidy sum and decides to travel to Egypt. This series gives us a great picture of Victorian Egypt, humor, and a bit of romance. The first book was published in 1975 with the most recent addition, the 19th book in the series, published in 2010! Elizabeth Peters imbues these books with historical accuracy as well, she actually is an Egyptologist!
     I love when I discover non fictional characters in fictional works. Amelia Peabody meets up with several "real" people, Howard Carter, for instance. This feat is also accomplished in Robin Paige's Victorian/Edwardian Mysteries. While the main characters are fictional, every book has them meet a notable figure of the time; Rudyard Kipling, and Lillie Langtry, for example. The series takes place in England from the mid 1890's to 1903.
     Sometimes the main character is a true historical person. Beatrix Potter stars in the The Cottage Tales of Beatrix Potter by Susan Wittig Albert.
     Although the Victorian time period is one of my favorites, never fear, there are lots of other eras to be found in cozy mysteries. What about the Great Depression in the United States? Check out The Grace and Favor Series by Jill Churchill. Fancy a look at WWII England? Try The Manor House Mysteries by Kate Kingsbury. Rhys Bowen writes two of my favorite historicals-Molly Murphy is an Irish immigrant who becomes a private investigator in turn of the century (20th century that is) New York City in the Molly Murphy Mysteries while Lady Georgiana is a member of the royal family (she's 34th in line for the throne!) in 1930's England in the Royal Spyness series.
     Perhaps you'd prefer something a little more recent. What about the Murder a Go-Go series by Rosemary Martin? This series features Bebe Bennett in 1960's New York City. Something a little further back? Try Margaret Frazer's Dame Frevisse series; she's a medieval nun in England (Dame Frevisse is the medieval nun, not Margaret Frazier).
     Whatever time period you decide to explore-I know you'll have fun, and you just may learn something as well! 



  1. Thanks for the info. I'll be adding some of these to my TBR list.

    1. So glad I was able to help you find some new great reads!