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 façades.
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.
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