Tag Archives: sleuths

Historical Fiction Books - Kari Bovée Historical Mystery books featuring amateur female sleuths

7 Historical Mysteries Featuring
Amateur Female Sleuths

I love an amateur female sleuth. Both reading and writing them!

As a historical mystery author, I like to travel back into time and imagine what it must have been like to live in different time periods in history. What were the obstacles? Was life really simpler? What went on in the minds of the many empowered women who so inspire me today? I like to take those characters and put them in a situation they probably never had to deal with—like a murder or crime—and try to figure out how they would have written the story by their words and actions. This process has led to the birth of Grace Michelle, amateur female sleuth of the 1920’s (see Grace in the Wings below).

As a reader, the process works in reverse — and is equally enjoyable. Here are a few of my favorite historical mystery books featuring amateur female sleuths!

Grace in the Wings

In this new historical mystery series, award-winning author Kari Bovee introduces readers to a charming new amateur female sleuth–Grace Michelle.

New York City, 1920. Grace Michelle has everything she wants: a home, a family, and a future career as a costume designer for famed showman Florenz Ziegfeld, Jr.’s Ziegfeld Follies. Pretty good for a girl who once lived on the streets of New York City. But when her sister, Sophia, the star of the show, is murdered, Grace’s safe and protected life is shattered.

 

Bellfield Hall, Or, The Observations of Miss Dido Kent

1805. An engagement party is taking place for Mr Richard Montague, son of wealthy landowner Sir Edgar Montague, and his fiancee Catherine. During a dance with his beloved, a strange thing happens: a man appears at Richard’s shoulder and appears to communicate something to him without saying a word. Instantly breaking off the engagement, he rushes off to speak to his father, never to be seen again. Distraught with worry, Catherine sends for her spinster aunt, Miss Dido Kent, who has a penchant for solving mysteries. Catherine pleads with her to find her fiance and to discover the truth behind his disappearance. It’s going to take a lot of logical thinking to untangle the complex threads of this multi-layered mystery, and Miss Dido Kent is just the woman to do it.

Amateur Female Sleuth Rating ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

Crocodile on the Sandbank

Amelia Peabody, that indomitable product of the Victorian age, embarks on her debut Egyptian adventure armed with unshakable self-confidence, a journal to record her thoughts, and, of course, a sturdy umbrella. On her way to Cairo, Amelia rescues young Evelyn Barton-Forbes, who has been abandoned by her scoundrel lover. Together the two women sail up the Nile to an archeological site run by the Emerson brothers-the irascible but dashing Radcliffe and the amiable Walter. Soon their little party is increased by one-one mummy that is, and a singularly lively example of the species.

Strange visitations, suspicious accidents, and a botched kidnapping convince Amelia that there is a plot afoot to harm Evelyn. Now Amelia finds herself up against an unknown enemy-and perilous forces that threaten to make her first Egyptian trip also her last . . .

Amateur Female Sleuth Rating ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

The Mangle Street Murders

March Middleton has moved to Gower Street to live with her curmudgeonly guardian, Sidney Grice, London’s most famous personal detective. She is intelligent, witty, and talkative. He thinks young women should be seen and not heard. But he grudgingly allows her to join his latest murder case: A young woman is dead and her loving husband is the only suspect.
Their investigations lead the pair to the darkest alleys of the East End: Every twist leads Sidney Grice to think the husband guilty, but March is convinced that he is innocent. And as the case threatens to foment civil unrest, Sidney Grice finds his reputation is not the only thing in mortal danger . . .

Amateur Female Sleuth Rating ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

And Only to Deceive

For Emily, accepting the proposal of Philip, the Viscount Ashton, was an easy way to escape her overbearing mother, who was set on a grand society match. So when Emily’s dashing husband died on safari soon after their wedding, she felt little grief. After all, she barely knew him. Now, nearly two years later, she discovers that Philip was a far different man from the one she had married so cavalierly. His journals reveal him to have been a gentleman scholar and antiquities collector who, to her surprise, was deeply in love with his wife. Emily becomes fascinated with this new image of her dead husband and she immerses herself in all things ancient and begins to study Greek.

Emily’s intellectual pursuits and her desire to learn more about Philip take her to the quiet corridors of the British Museum, one of her husband’s favorite places. There, amid priceless ancient statues, she uncovers a dark, dangerous secret involving stolen artifacts from the Greco-Roman galleries. And to complicate matters, she’s juggling two very prominent and wealthy suitors, one of whose intentions may go beyond the marrying kind. As she sets out to solve the crime, her search leads to more surprises about Philip and causes her to question the role in Victorian society to which she, as a woman, is relegated.

Amateur Female Sleuth Rating ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

Absolution by Murder

The King of Northumbria has requested the services of a wise counsel to decide the people’s religious future. Among the select priests, elders, and scholars from Ireland and Rome is Sister Fidelma of Kildare. Trained as an advocate of the courts, she was expecting to rule on issues of law. Instead she was plunged into unholy murder.

Dead was the Abbess Étain, a leading Celtic speaker, her throat slashed. With the counsel in an uproar and civil war threatening, the desperate king has turned to the sharp-witted Sister Fidelma for help. With the aide of her dear friend Brother Eadulf and her faith in the truth, she must act in haste before the killer strikes again.

Amateur Female Sleuth Rating ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

Sister Pelagia and the White Bulldog

In a remote Russian province in the late nineteenth century, Bishop Mitrofanii must deal with a family crisis. After learning that one of his great aunt’s beloved and rare white bulldogs has been poisoned, the Orthodox bishop knows there is only one detective clever enough to investigate the murder: Sister Pelagia.

The bespectacled, freckled Pelagia is lively, curious, extraordinarily clumsy, and persistent. At the estate in question, she finds a whole host of suspects, any one of whom might have benefited if the old lady (who changes her will at whim) had expired of grief at the pooch’s demise. There’s Pyotr, the matron’s grandson, a nihilist with a grudge who has fallen for the maid; Stepan, the penniless caretaker, who has sacrificed his youth to the care of the estate; Miss Wrigley, a mysterious Englishwoman who has recently been named sole heiress to the fortune; Poggio, an opportunistic and freeloading “artistic” photographer; and, most intriguingly, Naina, the old lady’s granddaughter, a girl so beautiful she could drive any man to do almost anything.

As Pelagia bumbles and intuits her way to the heart of a mystery among people with faith only in greed and desire, she must bear in mind the words of Saint Paul: “Beware of dogs–and beware of evil-doers.”

Amateur Female Sleuth Rating ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

I’d like to keep this list current with new suggestions. Who are your favorite amateur female sleuths? Comment below. I’ll ad ’em to the list!