It’s almost summer here in the northern hemisphere, the perfect time to share some book recommendations and stocked those TBR piles for the lazy days of summer. And for any day, really, whatever in the northern or southern hemisphere season.
I’m always on the lookout for new, exciting stories set in the 1920s, and there is no shortage of them now. So I thought I’d share my most recent discoveries. These are mostly real discoveries, I mean, they are new to me, and I haven’t read most of them yet. Still, there’s something about these stories that captures me as a reader. Maybe it will be the same for you.
Do share more titles in the comments. I don’t know about you, but there is always space for new stories on my pile.
Parveen Mistgry Mystery Series
by Sujata Massey
This series is set in 1920s Bombay, and it sounds incredibly interesting. Parveen Mistry is the first female lawyer in India. Due to her personal life, she’s especially sensitive to women’s life and troubles, and that’s what she ends up being more involved with in her cases.
Reviews for these series are very good. Many speaks of the accuracy of the historical (and cultural) setting, which is certainly a bonus for me.
Lady Adelaide Mystery Series
by Maggie Robinson
I read the first book in this series, and it was nice. The mystery was good, but there was something I wasn’t crazy about: the ghost.
Lady Adelaide is a widow, but her husband’s ghost comes back to haunt her, and together they solve mysteries. It’s a curious concept. I was intrigued. But as it’s often the case, I found it difficult to believe the way Adelaide readily accepts her husband’s ghost in her life. Making ghosts work in a ‘realistic’ setting is particularly tricky, in my opinion, and I’ve seldom seen it done realistically.
But aside from this, I really enjoyed the novel.
Read my review of Nobody’s Sweetheart Now.
Mrs Jones Dieselpunk Adventour
by Grace E. Robinson
This is a series of novellas with a very classic retrofuturistic vibe. Set in an alternative 1920s, these are stories full of gadgets and adventure, not unline a James Bon adventure… but in dieselpunk style.
Read my review of Mrs Jones and the Midas Train.
Leni Price Mysteries
by Persia Walker
I stumbled upon Perisa Walker’s mysteries set during the Harlem Renaissance during the very early stages of the research of my unpublished Ghost Trilogy set in Chicago in the same years. I still don’t know how I haven’t read them yet.
But boy, do they sound good!
Lanie Price is a 1920s Harlem society columnist, but she also doubles as a sleuth. She moves in the liminal, lively, but also mysterious environment of Harlem at the height of the Jazz Age. Hard to think of a more charming setting.
Magic of Manhattan
by Allie Therin
I read the first and the third book in this trilogy… which I have a feeling won’t remain a trilogy for long.
This is the kind of historically set fantasy that I like: definitely fantasy in concept, but also definitely historical in the great attention for the setting.
Therin is also very good at creating sympathetic characters who the reader can root for.
The idea at the base of the story is that there are human beings that can use magic. They have been hiding for centuries, but now some of them are trying to conquer the world by using century-old magical artefacts.
Arthur, an extremely wealthy New Yorker, is the non-magical head of a magical organisation that is trying to keep the world safe. Rory, the boy he falls for, is one of the most powerful magic people in the world.
Read my review of Spellbound and Wonderstruck.
Arthur Skelton Murder Mysteries
by David Stafford
I discover these stories only recently, and they intrigued me because of the protagonist being a lawyer. While there are a few lawyers detective in Golden Age mysteries, it looks like this figure is less prominent in today’s stories set during the Golden Age.
Again, I haven’t read it yet, but it is on my TBR pile.
Lord Edgington Investigates
by Benedict Brown
This is a series that I have only recently discovered but which I can’t wait to read. The setting is 1920s England. The protagonist is Lord Edgington of Cranley Hall, a seventy-five-year-old former detective that circumstances force to get back to the profession. But because times have changed, he enlists his teenage nephew to help him with his sleuthing.
If this isn’t a charming idea, I don’t know what is. And the stories promise to be full of wit and humour. I can’t wait!
Heathcliff Lennox Mystery Series
by Karen Baugh Menuhin
I discovered this series just the other day from Benedict Brown’s newsletter. This is also a cosy mystery series full of heart and wit, where a bit of everything is mixed in: adventure, romance, archaeology – depending on the novel.
It’s described as “Downton Abbey meets Agatha Christie with a touch of Wodehouse and a dog of distinction.” If this is the mood, I’m hooked!
Along with these ongoing series, I’ve come across some books that stand alone or are the first (and for now, the only book) in a future series.
Here are the ones that most intrigue me.
Dead Dead Girls
(Harlem Renaissance Mystery #1)
by Nekesa Afia
The start of an exciting new historical mystery series set in 1920s Harlem featuring Louise Lloyd, a young black woman caught up in a series of murders way too close to home…
Harlem, 1926. Young black girls like Louise Lloyd are ending up dead.
Following a harrowing kidnapping ordeal when she was in her teens, Louise is doing everything she can to maintain a normal life. She’s succeeding, too. She spends her days working at Maggie’s Café and her nights at the Zodiac, Manhattan’s hottest speakeasy. Louise’s friends might say she’s running from her past and the notoriety that still stalks her, but don’t tell her that.
When a girl turns up dead in front of the café, Louise is forced to confront something she’s been trying to ignore–several local black girls have been murdered over the past few weeks. After an altercation with a local police officer gets her arrested, Louise is given an ultimatum: She can either help solve the case or let a judge make an example of her.
Louise has no choice but to take the case and soon finds herself toe-to-toe with a murderous mastermind. She’ll have to tackle her own fears and the prejudices of New York City society if she wants to catch a killer and save her own life in the process.
Golgotha: A WWI Trench Murder Mystery
by Phil Hore
1916, the Western Front.
There are some crimes that transcend the horrors of war, and the rumour of a soldier being found in no man’s land crucified to a church door threatens to cause a mutiny in the trenches. To placate the troops, allied HQ orders four soldiers pulled from the ranks of each army to investigate the crime and bring the perpetrator swiftly to justice. What a Canadian ex-Mountie, an Australian beat cop, a constable from Scotland Yard, and their military intelligence commander discover will not only save the lives of the comrades, but may well save the entire war.
Full of factual events and historic occurrences, Golgotha looks into one of the darkest events to occur during the First World War.
If It Rains
by Jennifer L. Wright
It’s 1935 in Oklahoma, and lives are determined by the dust. Fourteen-year-old Kathryn Baile, a spitfire born with a severe clubfoot, is coming of age in desperate times. Once her beloved older sister marries, Kathryn’s only comfort comes in the well-worn pages of her favorite book, The Wonderful Wizard of Oz. Then Kathryn’s father decides to relocate to Indianapolis, and only the promise of a surgery to finally make her “normal” convinces Kathryn to leave Oklahoma behind. But disaster strikes along the way, and Kathryn must rely on her grit and the ragged companions she meets on the road if she is to complete her journey.
Back in Boise City, Melissa Baile Mayfield is the newest member of the wealthiest family in all of Cimarron County. In spite of her poor, rural upbringing, Melissa has just married the town’s most eligible bachelor and is determined to be everything her husband—and her new social class—expects her to be. But as the drought tightens its grip, Henry’s true colors are revealed. Melissa covers her bruises with expensive new makeup and struggles to reconcile her affluent life with that of her starving neighbors. Haunted by the injustice and broken by Henry’s refusal to help, Melissa secretly defies her husband, risking her life to follow God’s leading.
Two sisters, struggling against unspeakable hardship, discover that even in their darkest times, they are still united in spirit, and God is still with them, drawing them home.
All That Is Secret
by Patricia Raybon
From award-winning author Patricia Raybon comes a compelling new historical mystery series, a riveting puzzle confronting the hidden secrets of class, race, family, and love.
Can an amateur detective solve the cold case mystery of her lost father’s murder?
In the winter of 1923, Professor Annalee Spain–a daring but overworked theologian at a small Chicago Bible college–receives a cryptic telegram calling her home to Denver to solve the mystery of the murder of her beloved but estranged father.
For a young Black woman, searching for answers in a city ruled by the KKK could mean real danger. Still, with her literary hero Sherlock Holmes as inspiration, Annalee launches her hunt for clues, attracting two surprising allies: Eddie, a relentless young white boy searching for his missing father, and Jack, a handsome Black pastor who loves nightclub dancing and rides in his sporty car, awakening Annalee’s heart to the surprising highs and lows of romantic love.
With their help, Annalee follows clues that land her among Denver’s powerful elite. But when their sleuthing unravels sinister motives and deep secrets, Annalee confronts the dangerous truths and beliefs that could make her a victim too.