My blog is not a book blog, but on Tuesdays I quite often review books that have caught my eye. By and large I only write about ones that I’ve enjoyed, so here’s a canter through this year’s reviews which may give you some ideas for reading matter in 2019.


Historical Mystery stories

Given the general theme of my blog, I favour reviews of historical novels. There seems to be a lot of crossover between historical and detective fiction so for fans of whodunnits, here are a few possibilities. (Links are to my reviews.)

The Gilded Shroud (Elizabeth Bailey) Jane Austen meets Agatha Christie when the Marchioness of Polbrook, is strangled in her bed.

The Esther and Jack Enright Mysteries Victorian murder mysteries, with an inevitable nod in the direction of Jack the Ripper.

The Duke’s Agent (Rebecca Jenkins) It’s 1811 and when the Duke of Penrith’s agent suddenly dies, the extent of his peculation is revealed.  Raif Jarrett agrees to use his leave from the Army to sort out the mess, but things are worse than they seem. Soon there is murder and riot and the agent himself finds his life at risk. Great fun and decently researched history.

Dear Laura (Jean Stubbs) As much psychodrama as detective story, I loved this book for its portrayal of the sheer awfulness of the lives of many women in the Victorian period.

General Historical Novels

The Custom of the Trade (Shaun Lewis) First World War submarine adventure by an ex-submariner who writes with authority.

Pleasing Mr Pepys (Deborah Swift) Definitely one of the best books I read last year. Highly recommended.

Chants to Persephone Book 5 of Jennifer Macaire’s series featuring Alexander the Great and a time-travelling historian. Huge fun and more solidly fact-based than you would expect.

The Last Roundhead (Jemahl Evans) Spies and battle in an incredibly well researched story of the English Civil War.

A Kestrel Rising (SA Laybourn) Romance set against the background of the air war in World War II. Excellent.

New Grub Street (George Gissing) Technically this isn’t a historical novel because it wasn’t historical when it was written. It certainly does give a wonderful insight into the world of publishing at the end of the 19th century.

My own books

I think I’m admirably restrained in the amount that I write about my books but these are the links to posts about my own books in 2018.

Burke in the Land of Silver

Burke and the Bedouin

The White Rajah


Back Home



I read spectacular amounts of non-fiction while researching but I don’t generally review them. I read this one because it was published by my own publishers, Endeavour Media, and I reviewed it because it was a fascinating book and well worth having a look at.

Roger Casement (Brian Inglis) Biography of the Irish Nationalist hanged by the British in 1916.

Thrillers and Detective Stories

When I’m not reading history for historical novels, I really enjoy relaxing with a good thriller or mystery book. These books are harder to write than people think and I’m happy to be able to point to some good ones.

Redemption Point (Candice Fox) Excellent Australian detective thriller.

Two very different murder mysteries that are still strangely similar I’ve reviewed The Mystery of Three Quarters (Sophie Hannah) and The Katharina Code (Jorn Lier Horst) together, comparing two very different takes on the murder mystery.


Assorted Sherlock Holmes pastiches Why is Sherlock Holmes still so popular? I had a look at books by Bonnie MacBird and Anthony Harowitz to see what the appeal is.

Dr Morelle Endeavour Media are republishing Ernest Dudley’s Dr Morelle books from the 1940s and 50s. They aren’t the best of the Golden Age detective stories, but the 1950s atmosphere is a treat. How can you not love a story which features a character called Aces La Rue?

Collateral Damage (James Long) Another one from Endeavour and well worth a look. Brilliant page-turner of a thriller set against the background of the first Gulf War.

The Darkness (Ragner Jonasson) Icelandic-noir. Very, very noir.

General Fiction

Ed Reardon’s Week (Christopher Douglas & Andrew Nickolds) The book of the radio series about an impoverished jobbing author. Brilliant.

Tipping Point (Terry Tyler) Dystopian near-future ‘Walking Dead’ but without zombies.

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