The best historical crime novels, as chosen by William Ryan, author of The Constant Soldier, a thrilling tale of survival set against the final bitter weeks of the Nazi regime. 





 
The Snake Stone

The Snake Stone

By Jason Goodwin

Jason Goodwin is, above all, a very fine writer - but when you combine that with a fascinating central character, a eunuch called Yashim, and an even more fascinating location, 1830s Istanbul, then you’re looking at historical crime gold. When you add in Yashim’s culinary achievements, it moves to a whole different level of excellence. The Snake Stone is my favourite of the five Yashim novels but they’re all excellent - you shouldn’t hesitate

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The Devil in the Marshalsea

The Devil in the Marshalsea

By Antonia Hodgson

When Thomas Hawkins is thrown into the Marshalsea prison for unpaid debts, it’s the start of a brilliant, witty and thrilling Georgian whodunit that leaves you wanting just a little bit more. So it’s just as well that Hodgson has written two further novels in the series with, hopefully, more to come

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Beekeeper

Beekeeper

By J. Robert Janes

Janes’ Kohler and St Cyr series is a bit of a hidden gem. Janes published twelve novels between 1992 and 2002, of which Beekeeper is the eleventh and for those of us who have followed the adventures of German detective Kohler and his french partner St Cyr through the labyrinthine complexities of Nazi-occupied France, Janes’ decision to start writing them again in 2012 was very welcome. You might have to hunt them out – but they’re worth it.

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Maze of Cadiz

The Maze of Cadiz

By Aly Monroe

In this, Monroe’s first novel, a young British spy called Peter Cotton is sent to Cadiz to deal with a rogue colleague – except that when he arrives, he finds that the colleague is dead. Monroe’s evocation of Franco’s Spain and Cadiz, a town where she lived for some time, is dreamlike and other-worldly and Cotton’s own role is often ambiguous even, it seems, to him. It’s a splendid spy novel and well worth a look.

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William Ryan is part of the team behind first mondays, a monthly evening of crime fiction held at City University, London. Tickets, special guests and further information available here.

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