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A 1920s Bookish Lineup

As Smashwords rightly pointed out, it’s the middle of summer in the northern hemisphere and the middle of winter in the southern hemisphere, and in either case, it’s the best of time to curl up with a good book.
So I thought I’d do my part and lineup a few titles for the readers out there who enjoy stories set in the 1920s and thereabout. Hope it’ll be useful. If you’ve read any of these, I’d love to hear what you thought about it.
Now, let’s go!


Bess Crawford Mysteries
by Charles Todd

The series revolves around Bess, a WWI battlefield nurse with great intuition and knowledge of the human soul. She’s an awesome character. I’m listening to the first book in the series, A Duty to the Dead, and I’m absolutely loving it. The mystery is excellent, the characters are alive, and the historical setting is fantastic. I don’t think this will be the last Bess Crawford I’ll read.
The series includes 11 books (one is coming out this year) and a couple of novellas.

The Reschen Valley Series
by Chrystyna Lucyk-Berger

The Reschen Valley is today part of South Tyrol in Northern Italy. But it used to be part of Austria. This series by author Chrystyna Lucyk-Berger addresses the cultural clashes of the time when South Tyrol was annexed to Italy right after WWI. Chrystyna lives very close to that place and is involved with its history and culture. She’s a great guide for us to follow in these stories.
The Reschen Valley Series is the story of a strong-willed woman who stands in a challenging position betweem two cultures and two lands, and between her loyalties and her love.

The Roaring Twenties Mystery Series
by Mary Miley

The protagonist of this series is Jessica Carr (not her true name), a voudeville actress who ends up working in Hollywood, rubbing elbows with the most famous stars of the rising film industry. Jessica is a good observator, one that people often fails to see, because she can merge in the environment and often manages to pass for a child.
I’ve read the last two novels and I enjoyed them. They are good fun with nice characters. I had the impression that there were going to be more mysteries btu at the moment the author stopped at these four titles.


It’s never too easy to come by new dieselpunk stories, so when I get the opportunity to read them, I grab it with both hands. This is a small collection of new-ish stories I got my eyes set on. I read the first novella in the Mrs Jones Series by Grace E. Robinson a couple of years ago. It was an Indiana Jones kind of adventure and great fun (read my review here). And I’ve just started Spellbound, which at the moment it’s quite engaging.

THE CALDERA’S VISE by Varden M. Frias

In Hellhole, the sordid city situated into the volcanic basin of the Moloch Caldera, drug bootlegging reigns supreme. A red demon, Asher Glassberg, witnesses the murder of his parents in a gruesome in-home shooting, He finds himself caught up in Hellhole’s seedy drug underbelly seeking retribution for his parent’s murder. More drug related murders soon follow in Hellhole and black demon Milton Romero, a freshly hired drug mule, stumbles across a deadly strain. The witty Tengu detective, Renshu Karasu, looks into the murders with his keen eye for detail and hunger for solving puzzles. Will this new drug strain bring Hellhole to its knees? Find out in this gritty art deco Prohibition era noir of the demonic kind.


A dead man comes to the door, asking for help. He was murdered with a magic spell, and fears that his murderer will kill again. Cornelia Jones goes in search of the killer and his magic, and finds herself dealing with a madman who cannot die.

Can she dispatch the ghosts before she becomes one herself?

SPELLBOUND by Allie Therin

Arthur Kenzie’s life’s work is protecting the world from the supernatural relics that could destroy it. When an amulet with the power to control the tides is shipped to New York, he must intercept it before it can be used to devastating effects. He needs a powerful psychometric…and the only one available has sworn off his abilities altogether.
Rory Brodigan’s gift comes with great risk. To protect himself, he’s become a recluse, redirecting his magic to find counterfeit antiques. But with the city’s fate hanging in the balance, he can’t force himself to say no. Being with Arthur is dangerous, but Rory’s ever-growing attraction to him begins to make him brave.

BEA WOLF by Rachel A. Brune

When Beowulf’s diesel-mechanized force of mercenaries goes up against their strongest foe yet, will it survive the conflagration that threatens their entire world?


I adore the 1920s, but I also like both the 1910s and the 1930s – and I confess that I’m developing a fondness for WWI. Is it any surprise that my reading reflects this? Although I usually gravitate around speculative fiction and mysteries, I do enjoy the occasional straight historical novel.
These are a few of the titles in my To-Be-Read pile. Anyone you’re planning to read too?

THE LIAR by Jennifer Wells

What would you do if you saw a girl in a crowd whose face had the same, identical birthmark as your only child?
A child who, nearly ten years ago, you were told died?
It’s 1935 and housewife Emma glimpses a face in a crowd – a little girl with a very unique birthmark.
Transfixed by the sight of a stranger; Emma becomes convinced that the girl is her long-lost daughter taken from her at birth. There is only one problem: Emma’s daughter is dead. So who is the stranger?


It’s 1925 in Los Angeles, and motor patrol officer Del Randolph keeps making one mistake after another. Struggling to keep his job with the Los Angeles Police Department, Del is also lonely and heartbroken after his last lover left him.
But then he meets Ev, a gentle but cynical invert, and has his heart stolen again. Del knows he’s no great catch—he isn’t smart or particularly handsome or rich—but he’s determined to show Ev how much he loves him.
Unfortunately, his misguided attempts at winning Ev’s affections might end up destroying their relationship instead. Del joins a hapless gang of bootleggers to try to make some money but quickly winds up in trouble. Soon he’s in debt, breaking the law, and lying to Ev about all of it.

DOLLFACE by Renee Rosen

As the ultimate flapper, Vera captures the attention of two high rollers, a handsome nightclub owner and a sexy gambler. On their arms, she gains entrée into a world filled with bootleg bourbon, wailing jazz, and money to burn. She thinks her biggest problem is choosing between them until the truth comes out. Her two lovers are really mobsters from rival gangs during Chicago’s infamous Beer Wars, a battle Al Capone refuses to lose.
The heady life she’s living is an illusion resting on a bedrock of crime and violence unlike anything the country has ever seen before. When the good times come to an end, Vera becomes entangled in everything from bootlegging to murder.

FALLEN BEAUTY by Erika Robuck

“Without sin, can we know beauty? Can we fully appreciate the summer without the winter? No, I am glad to suffer so I can feel the fullness of our time in the light.”

“Lovers of the Jazz Age, literary enthusiasts, and general historic fiction readers will find much to love about Call Me Zelda. Highly recommended.” –Historical Novel Society, Editors’ Choice


New York, 1924. Twenty-four-year-old Jenny Bell is one of a dozen burgeoning artists invited to Louis Comfort Tiffany’s prestigious artists’ colony. Gifted and determined, Jenny vows to avoid distractions and romantic entanglements and take full advantage of the many wonders to be found at Laurelton Hall.
But Jenny’s past has followed her to Long Island. Images of her beloved mother, her hard-hearted stepfather, waterfalls, and murder, and the dank hallways of Canada’s notorious Andrew Mercer Reformatory for Women overwhelm Jenny’s thoughts, even as she is inextricably drawn to Oliver, Tiffany’s charismatic grandson.
As the summer shimmers on and the competition between the artists grows fierce as they vie for a spot at Tiffany’s New York gallery, a series of suspicious and disturbing occurrences suggest someone knows enough about Jenny’s childhood trauma to expose her.

MERCY ROAD by Ann Howard Creel

In 1917, after Arlene Favier’s home burns to the ground, taking her father with it, she must find a way to support her mother and younger brother. Job opportunities are scarce, but then a daring possibility arises: the American Women’s Hospital needs ambulance drivers to join a trailblazing, all-female team of doctors and nurses bound for war-torn France.
On the front lines, Arlene reunites with a childhood friend, Jimmy Tucker, now a soldier, who opens her heart like no one before. But she has also caught the attention of Felix Brohammer, a charismatic army captain who harbors a dark, treacherous secret.
To expose Brohammer means risking her family’s future and the promise of love.


But my favourite historical novels are always the mysteries. Besides, it was watching the 1930s and 1940s mystery films on tv with my granny back when I was a child that I fell in love with this era. I’m still fascinated by the classic investigation that relies mostly on the detective’s intuition. For me, there is something satisfying and cosy about this kind of stories.
All of the following titles appear to be the first in a planned series. More fun is coming.


New York City, 1920. Grace Michelle has everything she wants: a home, a family, and a future career as a costume designer for famed showman Florenz Ziegfeld, Jr.’s Ziegfeld Follies. Pretty good for a girl who once lived on the streets of New York City. But when her sister, Sophia, the star of the show, is murdered, Grace’s safe and protected life is shattered.
Battle-scarred by the war and emotionally scarred by his past, Chet Riker has made it a practice to keep his distance from others; love, after all, leads only to pain. But Chet has a problem—a big one: he’s become indebted to mob-boss Joe Marciano in an attempt to save his estranged mother’s life, and Marciano wants him to pay up or else. Desperate to get the money, he contacts former client Florenz Ziegfeld for work.
Soon, Chet finds himself playing bodyguard for introverted Grace, who has reluctantly agreed to be Ziegfeld’s new leading lady—on the condition that Ziegfeld promises to find Sophia’s killer.

MURDER KNOCKS TWICE by Susanna Calkins

Gina Ricci takes on a job as a cigarette girl to earn money for her ailing father—and to prove to herself that she can hold her own at Chicago’s most notorious speakeasy, the Third Door. She’s enchanted by the harsh, glamorous world she discovers: the sleek socialites sipping bootlegged cocktails, the rowdy ex-soldiers playing poker in a curtained back room, the flirtatious jazz pianist and the brooding photographer—all overseen by the club’s imposing owner, Signora Castallazzo. But the staff buzzes with whispers about Gina’s predecessor, who died under mysterious circumstances, and the photographer, Marty, warns her to be careful.
When Marty is brutally murdered, with Gina as the only witness, she’s determined to track down his killer. What secrets did Marty capture on his camera—and who would do anything to destroy it? As Gina searches for answers, she’s pulled deeper into the shadowy truths hiding behind the Third Door.


Winter 1917. As the First World War enters its most brutal phase, back home in England, everyone is seeking answers to the darkness that has seeped into their lives.
At Blackwater Abbey, on an island off the Devon coast, Lord Highmount has arranged a spiritualist gathering to contact his two sons who were lost in the conflict. But as his guests begin to arrive, it gradually becomes clear that each has something they would rather keep hidden. Then, when a storm descends on the island, the guests will find themselves trapped. Soon one of their number will die.

So This is my lineup for the summer. MOre or less, since I’ll never manage to read all of them… especially considering that half of the summer is already gone…

What about you? What are you reading? any good 1920s novel on your reading shelf?


  • Margot Kinberg
    Posted August 18, 2019 at 00:19

    What a treasure trove, Sarah! Thank you for sharing all of this!

    • Post Author
      Posted August 20, 2019 at 15:47

      It’s a pleasure. So many great authors and stories out there.

  • Janine
    Posted August 20, 2019 at 14:51

    Another great series is Maisie Dobbs by Jaqueline Winsoear.

    • Post Author
      Posted August 20, 2019 at 15:46

      Hi Janin, and thanks for stopping by 🙂
      You’re right. Maisie Dobbs is a great series. As is Josephine Tay by Nicola Upson. I’m saving them for another lineup 😉

  • Roland R Clarke
    Posted August 28, 2019 at 02:08

    A wonderful selection so I’m not sure where to start. Maybe with Kari Bovée’s book as I’ve already started her novel about Annie Oakley – Girl with a Gun. I’m more into WWII stories like Kate Quinn’s The Alice Network – although, that has a WWI storyline that weaves into a WWII plotline. Review on my Akismet link.

    • Post Author
      Posted August 28, 2019 at 11:12

      Grace in the Wings will be my next read. I’m quite intrigued by it. But I’d suggest Spellbound (review soon on the blog), which is a very good dieselpunk story, one of the best I’ve read. And A Duty to the Dead is just awesome (that review is comingtoo). WWI I’m afraind, but such a good mystery and historical novel.

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