Monday, April 12, 2010

Books By Theme: British Crime Fiction



Conan Doyle’s Sherlock Holmes was a confirmed bachelor. However, Laurie R. King has created a “fictitious” wife for Holmes’s later years, the intrepid Mary Russell, who, at an early age, becomes an informal student of Holmes and later his independent and scholarly spouse. Together, the two sleuths sharpen their considerable deductive powers through conversation and battles of intellect. There are currently six novels in the series, starting with The Beekeeper’s Apprentice.

Jane Austen herself “stars” as a sleuth in Stephanie Barron’s sprightly series that re-creates well-structured plots and social intrigue set in English country houses—the hallmark of Austen’s fiction. The debut, Jane And The Unpleasantness At Scargrave Manor, finds Miss Austen using her acute powers of observation as a natural tool for detecting the crime beneath genteel Regency fa├žades.

The Bow Street Runners, founded by novelist and magistrate Henry Fielding (of Tom Jones fame), could be considered the first professional constables and were the precursors to Scotland Yard. Fielding’s blind brother John took over as chief magistrate at London’s Bow Street Court in 1754. Sir John’s fictional—and eponymous—counterpart is at the heart of Bruce Alexander’s rousing 18th-century historical series, launched by the aptly titled Blind Justice.

Victorian England’s attitudes and mores, as well as London’s dark shadows, are well depicted in Anne Perry’s two Victorian detective series. The first, featuring Inspector Thomas Pitt and his wife, Charlotte, debuted with The Cater Street Hangman. The second series, with police detective and later private investigator William Monk, is set in the London of a few decades earlier, with the initial volume being The Face Of A Stranger.

Embodying the Victorian woman explorer is Elizabeth Peters’s intrepid Egyptologist and amateur sleuth Amelia Peabody. Starting with Crocodile In The Sandbank, in which Amelia travels to Egypt where she meets and marries archaeologist Radcliffe Emerson, ancient and contemporary crimes traverse the more than a dozen books in the series, as do such geopolitical realities as colonial wars and international espionage.   


~ For more themed book lists, check out Listless by One Librarian's Book Reviews and Listed by Once Upon a Bookshelf ~

~ All summaries from Library Journal ~


8 comments:

bermudaonion said...

Nice post! I really want to read one of Laurie King's books.

Hannah Stoneham said...

Interesting - these do sound fascinating but I am not sure that I could believe in Holmes with a wife!

Great post - thanks indeed for sharing

Hannah

Elizabeth Kerri Mahon said...

Nice post. I'm a huge fan of Elizabeth Peters and Anne Perry. I've been meaning to try Laurie King's and Stephanie Barron's series for awhile now.

Katy said...

Fabulous post! I'm reading Anne Perry's William Monk series and have a couple of the others listed here on my wishlist!

Zibilee said...

I have a copy of The Beekeeper's Apprentice and I can't wait to read it! I liked this post a lot and will be looking into some of your other recommendations!

Ryan G said...

When I think of British and mystery together, I instantly think of Anne Rice.

Ryan G said...

For everyone who thinks I'm a complete dork for mentioning Anne Rice earlier, I meant to say, Agatha Christie. Don't ask, I must have been rather out of it last night.

Jennifer said...

I love Sherlock Holmes, and hate most authors' attempts to write about him - but Laurie King actually gets it right. I feel like she really captures Holmes' style and thought process, and Mary is a great fit with him. It's not an emotional or obviously romantic relationship between the two of them. It's very much the sort of relationship that fits them - lots of intellectual companionship, lots of room for the two of them to be independent. I love the series and recommend it to anyone I know who's looking for a great mystery series.

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