Yet More Lady Detectives


Want a little escapism with your whodunit? These are three recent historical mysteries full of wit and humor. All three star women in the fist half of the 20th century, so be prepared for gender-expectation-busting hijinks. Lola Woodby, star of Come Hell or Highball, is back for another adventure in Maia Chance's Teetotaled. Though Lola and […]

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The Passion! The Drama! The Death! Opera Mysteries


Like history? Like mysteries? Like opera? These books have plenty of all three. If you're not so sure about opera, read for the other stuff and you might come around. None of these books require expertise in opera or history, so if you just like figuring out whodunnit, there's that, too. Lorenzo Da Ponte is Court Poet […]

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Autumn in New York: 3 Recent Stories of the Gilded Age

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It's time to celebrate Autumn, and what better way to do it than with books about New York? Of course, with so many books about that place, one has to winnow it down somehow. I've decided to highlight some new titles about Old New York in the Gilded Age. Graham Moore has written a legal thriller, The […]

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Who Was Mata Hari?

Mata Hari

With the recent publication of Mata Hari's Last Dance, Michelle Moran expertly paints fiction between what we know for sure about the famed dancer, courtesan, and terribly inept spy. Born Margaretha Zelle in Holland, Mata Hari chose her stage name upon coming to Paris after a miserable youth. Teaming up with the ambitious lawyer/agent Edouard Clunet, she […]

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Neo-Southern Gothic


While the term "Southern Gothic" may bring to mind Carson McCullers and Flannery O'Connor, there are writers working now that are of close if not equal quality. What is Southern Gothic? Along with occurring south of the Mason-Dixon Line, it often concerns misfits, creepy situations, and sinister events caused by poverty, violence, or faults in the characters' […]

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Murder Among the Ruins: Ancient Roman Mysteries

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For fans of historical novels, the ancient Romans are an entertaining bunch. If you like mysteries as well, there are definitely authors who cater to you. Below are three series that take place in the Eternal Empire. All are richly detailed and have a touch of humor to go with the whodunit. The Flavia Albia series by […]

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Tudor Queens

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As Queen Elizabeth II celebrated her birthday last weekend, it might be fun to take a look at her female predecessors on the throne, especially the mightiest of them all: the Tudor queens. Alison Weir made her name writing biographies of English royals, including the excellent The Life of Elizabeth I. Her new fictional series, […]

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Meet Samuel Beckett, Master of the Absurd

Sam Beckett

I have just finished reading the delightful A Country Road, A Tree by Jo Baker. This is the new fictional account of the writer Samuel Beckett's sojourn through WWII. Knowing he cannot write in the placidity of neutral Ireland, Beckett returns to France and the privations of occupation. However, he can't just write, he has to […]

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Art and Power

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Samuel Goldwyn, the movie studio head, told his writers: "If you want to send a message, call Western Union." What he meant was that he was not interested in scripts that expressed social or political opinions. Lenin and the soviet leaders after him, on the other hand, felt that all art should have a message: theirs. With […]

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Love and War: Novels of World War II

WWII Women

Nothing in the 20th century seems to capture the imagination quite like the Second World War. Lots of books have been written by and about men, but there are also some very good books written by and featuring women. These are just a few of the most recent. Martha Hall Kelly has never written a […]

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