30 Historical Mystery Series to Get You Through Any Crisis

By Anne Rouyer, Supervising Young Adult Librarian
April 23, 2020
Mulberry Street Library
Book cover for Cut to the Quick

The first Julian Kestrel mystery

My favorite thing about reading mysteries is that there’s resolution. Foes are vanquished, crimes are solved and justice is almost always served—so much better than real life!

I started reading historical mysteries like a fiend when I realized that I could find all my favorite genres of fiction (mystery, historical and romance) all in one place. I realized belatedly that my love of early Nancy Drew books and Agatha Christie novels were always leading me here. 

Early favorites are the Julian Kestrel series (the author tragically died after only 4 novels), The Alienist series, Amelia Peabody, Maisie Dobbs and the TV series of Cadfael (also a book series) and Foyles War.

The following list is long and yet still woefully incomplete (I have a more thorough unannotated list that I can send the curious). I follow all of the series on the list and all of them are current, ongoing series with new volumes either recently published or soon to be published. You will notice similar themes, settings and time periods that I love as well as notice that I have a penchant for female authors, female protagonists and world weary male characters and series that focus on ongoing personal drama. Starting with book one in any of these series is preferable but unnecessary (note: unless noted, the book pictured is the first one).

All of these series are currently available remotely as e-books and/or audiobooks.

Don't forget to "return" your e-books when you're done—the sooner you return them, the sooner someone else can use them.

Staff picks are chosen by NYPL staff members and are not intended to be comprehensive lists. We'd love to hear your ideas too, so leave a comment and tell us what you’d recommend. And check out our Staff Picks browse tool for more recommendations!