Unusual Suspects

Nevertheless, She Persisted Historical Mysteries!

Hello fellow mystery fans! After discussing my love last week for The Widows of Malabar Hill (review) and my excitement for the release of the 3rd book in the Veronica Speedwell series (below) this week I decided it was a perfect time to do a themed post recommending awesome women in historical mysteries who are not here for society’s garbage rules. Happy reading! (My apologies, I read most of these a while back and don’t have notes on trigger warnings.)

Sponsored by Epic Reads.

From bestselling author Maureen Johnson comes a brilliantly woven mystery, perfect for fans of Agatha Christie.

Ellingham Academy is a famously peculiar boarding school founded in 1936 by Albert Ellingham. Shortly after the school opened, his wife and daughter were kidnapped. The only clue was a riddle signed “Truly, Devious.” It became one of the great unsolved crimes of American history.

True-crime aficionado Stevie Bell is set to begin her first year at Ellingham Academy, and already has a plan: to solve this cold case. But when Truly Devious makes a surprise return, and death revisits Ellingham Academy, Stevie finds herself with two mysteries to solve.

A Treacherous Curse (Veronica Speedwell #3) by Deanna Raybourn: This series is funny, delightful, and has wonderful characters–especially Veronica Speedwell, a lepidopterist (the study of moths and butterflies). And she’s partnered up with Stoker, a natural historian, with quite a personality. In this 3rd book, set in 1888 London, Speedwell and Stoker find themselves solving a mystery revolving around an Egyptian archaeological dig that brings Stoker’s past to the present. I was already laughing on page one and immensely love Speedwell and Stoker’s partnership, banter, bickering, and sexual tension. Speedwell is a lady who refuses to conform to any kind of society rule that doesn’t please her and this pleases me greatly. If you haven’t started this gem of a series yet the first two books are A Curious Beginning and A Perilous Undertaking (review).

Another Great 1800s British Historical Mystery Series:

A Murder in Time (Kendra Donovan #1) by Julie McElwain: In this series, Kendra Donovan is actually an FBI agent in the US when, whoopsie, she finds herself transported to a castle in England in 1815. If you’re not into Sci-Fi, don’t worry–you only need to suspend disbelief for that sequence. From then on out you have Donovan, clearly confused, trying to survive in a completely different time period. Naturally (this being a mystery series, and her being an FBI agent), she finds herself having to solve a murder using none of the technology she’s used to, while in a time where ladies aren’t allowed to basically do anything– and as technically a maid which is what people think she is. In the sequel, A Twist in Time, Donovan realizes that until she figures out how she got to the 1800s she’ll have to make do with this new life. She’s acclimated enough to her circumstances to no longer be as shocked by the sexism, so she fights back. She’s also afraid of the butterfly effect and tries her best not to slip up about future happenings that might change things–although that’s easier said than done. Oh, and that pesky thing of her love interest being accused of a murder which she has to solve because police as we know them haven’t been established yet. (It looks like the third in the series, Caught in Time, comes out in July!)

Have I Raved Enough About Charlotte Sherlock? Ha, Trick Question, There Is No Such Thing:

A Study in Scarlet Women (Lady Sherlock #1) by Sherry Thomas: I kind of don’t like saying too much about this series because watching it unfold is something I don’t want to take away from any reader. I’ll say it’s a gender-swapped Sherlock, done brilliantly in a way that Sherlock’s “quirks” are more so push-backs towards society’s rules on women. Charlotte Holmes is so much not here for these rules that she unintentionally blows-up her life and social standing in trying to ensure she’s not forced into things she doesn’t want. She’s a real firecracker and I’m happy to light her wick. In the sequel, A Conspiracy in Belgravia, Charlotte and Mrs. Watson are back with a rather delicate case involving a married woman looking to find a past lover–her true love. Scandalous! The series is awesome, fun, kickass, and a must-read.

How About a Trip Back to 1915 New York:

A Front Page Affair (Kitty Weeks Mystery #1) by Radha Vatsal: I adore Capability “Kitty” Weeks! And the first book in this series is especially perfect for readers who like cozy mysteries and aren’t up for violence against women. As a reporter for the women’s fashion section of The Sentinel, she finds herself trying to solve a murder that occurred during an event she’d attended. While she is more than capable (heh) of solving the crime, she’s a woman in a time where women aren’t even allowed to vote. The second book in the series, Murder Between the Lines, really finds its stride. Kitty is determined to prove herself as a journalist–good luck getting her to stand down from anything she wants–and while on assignment, covering an all girls school, she ends up investigating the death of a girl. Set at the beginning of WWII, the sequel puts Kitty into women’s suffrage events, has visits from President Wilson, and even has her looking into Thomas Edison’s battery invention.


On All the Backlist Liberty talks about The Widows of Malabar Hill and A Rising Man (among other books).

Rioter Jessica Woodbury gives you a ton of information about Agatha Christie and reading her novels: Your Ultimate Guide to the Best Agatha Christie Books

Emily Martin has 8 Murder Mystery Books That Will Keep You Up ALL Night.

Millie Bobby Brown (Eleven on Stranger Things) will play Enola Holmes, Sherlock’s youngest sister, adapted from Nancy Springer’s series which starts with The Case of the Missing Marquess.

Reminder: Caleb Carr’s The Alienist adaptation premieres on TNT on the 22nd. (Trailer)

And Taraji P. Henson is playing a hit woman in Proud Mary, now in theaters. (Trailer)

Kindle Deals:

The Language of Secrets (Rachel Getty and Esa Khattak #2) by Ausma Zehanat Khan is $2.99 (I love this series–review)

And it looks like now Sue Grafton’s Alphabet Series is $3.99 each book up until the letter “O.”



Browse all the books recommended in Unusual Suspects previous newsletters on this shelf. And on Pinterest an Unusual Suspects board.

Until next time, keep investigating! And in the meantime come talk books with me on Twitter, Instagram, and Litsy–you can find me under Jamie Canaves.