Historical Fiction Stars - Mystery, Suspense, Thrillers and Crime Fiction: 2009

A list of some historical crime fiction titles receiving starred reviews.

Annotated lists of books receiving at least one starred review from one of four major review sources: Booklist, Kirkus, LJ and PW. The review source assigns the star.

Annotations are from Advance, the Ingram Book Magazine, unless otherwise noted.

Historical fiction is loosely defined on this page - a book set 25 years ago may qualify for inclusion.


  • Bury Me Deep
    Author: Abbott, Megan
    $ 15 ISBN: 9781416599098 Date: 2009
    star Kirkus star LJ
    Edgar Award-winning author Abbott, simply one of the most exciting and original voices of her generation (Laura Lippman), turns her attention to the Jazz Age--one of the most notorious periods for inciting scandalous crimes.
    Updated 7.31.09
  • The Dead of Winter
    Author: Airth, Rennie
    $ 25.95 ISBN: 9780670020935 Date: 2009
    star LJ
    The murder of a young Polish girl in wartime London puts John Madden on the trail of a ruthless hired killer. With rich psychological insights and vivid historical details, this riveting third novel in the Madden series promises to thrill discerning fans of crime fiction.
    Updated 5.15.09
  • The Cavalier of the Apocalypse
    Author: Alleyn, Susanne
    $ 24.95 ISBN: 9780312379889 Date: 2009
    star LJ star PW
    A prequel to Game of Patience and A Treasury of Regrets, Alleyn's latest delivers a thrilling mystery brimming with historical detail.
    Updated 7.15.09
  • Devil's Garden
    Author: Atkins, Ace
    $ 24.95 ISBN: 9780399155369 Date: 2009
    From the critically acclaimed, award-nominated author comes a new noir crime classic about one of the most notorious trials in American history--the 1921 manslaughter case against silent-screen comedy star Roscoe Fatty Arbuckle.
    Updated 2.26.09
  • Nemesis: The Final Case of Eliot Ness
    Author: Bernhardt, William
    $ 26 ISBN: 9780345487582 Date: 2009
    Eliot Ness, famous for taking down America's most notorious mobster Al Capone, is recruited by the mayor of Cleveland to clean up the city's widespread crime and corruption. Nemesis chronicles Ness's final case as he tracks America's first known serial killer.
    Updated 12.30.08
  • Oscar Wilde and the Dead Man's Smile
    Author: Brandeth, Gyles
    $ 14 ISBN: 9781416534853 Date: 2009
    star PW
    This shining star of historical crime fiction returns with the eagerly anticipated addition to the series that "Booklist" has hailed as pitch-perfect.
    Updated 7.20.09
  • The Frightened Man
    Author: Cameron, Kenneth
    $ 24.95 ISBN: 9780312538965 Date: 2009
    starKirkus star Booklist
    Cameron brings turn-of-the-century London vividly to life in this intelligent and compelling mystery. The Frightened Man delves deeper than the mere circumstances of a murder to investigate the dark side of human nature.
    Updated 5.1.09
  • The Joys of My Life
    Author: Clare, Alys
    $ 27.95 ISBN: 9780727866950 Date: 2009
    The new novel in the Hawkenlye series - May 1199. Abbess Helewise has been summoned by Queen Eleanor to discuss the building of a chapel at Hawkenlye Abbey. Meanwhile, Sir Josse dAcquin is on the trail of a group of mysterious knights rumoured to be devil worshippers. As Helewise heads for home, Josse follows his quarry to Chartres, where he meets the last person he expects: Joanna. And she has grave problems of her own . .
    Updated 2.26.09
  • Out of the Dawn Light
    Author: Clare, Alys
    $ 27.95 ISBN: 9780727867636 Date: 2009
    star PW
    A brand new medieval mystery from the author of the Hawkenlye series - England, 1087. On her sister's wedding day, Lassair meets an attractive and enigmatic stranger who brings a breath of the fascinating outside world to her backwater Fenland village. When he asks Lassair to use her unique talents to help locate a mysterious treasure she accepts, despite the dangers. But this is no ordinary treasure hunt; the object of the perilous search is five hundred years old and has a terrifying power of its own . . .
    Updated 7.31.09
  • Martryr
    Author: Clements, Rory
    $ 24 ISBN: 9780385342827 Date: 2009
    star PW
    Introducing John Shakespeare, master sleuth in the service of the Elizabethan queen, Martyr is rich with tension and historical immediacy as it builds to an explosive finale.
    Updated 3.31.09
  • Alexandria: Marcus Didius Falco
    Author: Davis, Lindsey
    $ 24.95 ISBN: 9780312379018 Date: 2009
    In first century A.D. Rome, Marcus Didius Falco works as a private informer. When he and his wife travel to Alexandria, Egypt, they aren't there long before Falco finds himself in the midst of nefarious doings.
    Updated 5.15.09
  • The Magician's Death
    Author: Doherty, P.C.
    $ 25 ISBN: 9780312565626 Date: 2009
    Scholars convene at Corfe Castle to crack the code of Roger Bacon's "Book of Secrets." When murder and mayhem ensue, Sir Hugh Corbett must thread through a maze of mystery while trying to unlock Bacon's great secrets.
    Updated 4.22.09
  • Persona Non Grata
    Author: Downie, Ruth
    $ 24 ISBN: 9781596916098 Date: 2009
    star LJ star Kirkus
    Engrossing, intricate, and wonderfully comic, Persona Non Grata the third novel in the "New York Times"-bestselling Gaius Petreius Ruso series.
    Updated 7.20.09
  • Grave Goods
    Author: Franklin, Ariana
    $ 25.95 ISBN: 9780399155444 Date: 2009
    starLJ star PW
    Combining the best of modern forensic thrillers with the drama of medieval fiction, "New York Times" bestselling author Ariana Franklin returns with the third title in the Mistress of the Art of Death series.
    England, 1176. Beautiful, tranquil Glastonbury Abbeya one of Englandas holiest sites, and believed by some to be King Arthuras sacred Isle of Avalonahas been burned almost to the ground. The arsonist remains at large, but the fire has uncovered something even more shocking: two hidden skeletons, a man and a woman. The skeletonsa height and age send rumors flyingaare the remains those of Arthur and Guinevere?
    King Henry II hopes so. Struggling to put down a rebellion in Wales, where the legend of Celtic savior Arthur is particularly strong, Henry wants definitive proof that the bones are Arthuras. If the rebels are sure that the Once and Future King will not be coming to their aid, Henry can stamp out the insurgence for good. He calls on Adelia Aguilar, Mistress of the Art of Death, to examine the bones.
    Henryas summons comes not a moment too soon, for Adelia has worn out her welcome in Cambridge. As word of her healing powers has spread, so have rumors of witchcraft. So Adelia and her household ride to Glastonbury, where the investigation into the abbey fire will be overseen by the Church authoritiesain this case, the Bishop of St. Albans, who happens also to be the father of Adeliaas daughter. - Publisher Marketing
    Updated 1.27.09
  • A Visible Darkness: A Mystery
    Author: Gregorio, Michael
    $ 25.95 ISBN: 9780312544355 Date: 2009
    Dark, intelligent, and vividly written, A Visible Darkness continues a masterful series of historical mysteries that portray a past torn between nationalism and humanism, superstition and science.
    Updated 2.26.09
  • The Empty Mirror
    Author: Jones, J. Sydney
    $ 24.95 ISBN: 9780312383893 Date: 2009
    With an unmatched knowledge of Vienna's history, culture, and politics, Jones introduces a gripping new mystery series set in a cosmopolitan city at the height of its artistic and social importance.
    Updated 2.26.09
  • A Quiet Flame: Bernie Gunther
    Author: Kerr, Philip
    $ 26.95 ISBN: 9780399155307 Date: 2009
    starPW starBooklist
    Philip Kerr returns with his best-loved character, Bernie Gunther, in the fifth novel in what is now a series: a tight, twisting, compelling thriller that is firmly rooted in history.
    A Quiet Flame opens in 1950. Falsely fingered a war criminal, Bernie Gunther has booked passage to Buenos Aires, lured, like the Nazis whose company he has always despised, by promises of a new life and a clean passport from the Persian government. But Bernie doesnat have the luxury of settling into his new home and lying low. He is soon pressured by the local police into taking on a case in which a girl has turned up dead, gruesomely mutilated, and anotherathe daughter of a wealthy German banker has gone missing. Both crimes seem to connect to an unsolved case Bernie worked on back in Berlin in 1932. Itas not so far-fetched that the cases might be linked: after all, the scum of the earth has been washing up on Argentine shoresastate-licensed murderers and torturersaso why couldnat a serial killer be among them? But Argentina, just like Germany, holds terrible secrets within its corrupt halls of power. When beautiful Anna Yagubsky seeks Gunther out, desperate for help, to find out what happened to her Jewish aunt and uncle who have disappeared, he is drawn into a horror story that rivals everything he has tried so hard to leave behind half a world away. - Publisher Marketing
    Updated 2.27.09
  • The Language of Bees
    Author: King, Laurie R.
    $ 25 ISBN: 9780553804546 Date: 2009
    In a case that will push their relationship to the breaking point, Mary Russell must help reverse the greatest failure of her legendary husband's storied past--a painful and personal defeat that still has the power to sting...this time fatally.
    - Publisher Marketing
    Updated 3.31.09
  • The Kindly Ones
    Author: Littlell, Jonathan
    $ 26.99 ISBN: 9780061353451 Date: 2009
    Massive in scope, horrific in subject matter, and shocking in its protagonist, Littell's prize-winning fictional memoir of a former Nazi officer who survived the war is intense and utterly original.
    Updated 2.26.09
  • The Stalin Epigram
    Author: Littell, Robert
    $ 26 ISBN: 9781416598640 Date: 2009
    starPW star LJ
    The legendary spy novelist and bestselling author presents a luminous historical novel that chronicles the famous Russian poet Osip Mandelstam's defiance of Stalin's regime, his subsequent exile, and tragic death.
    Updated 5.1.09
  • The Convict's Sword
    Author: Parker, I.J.
    $ 15 ISBN: 9780143115793 Date: 2009
    star PW
    I. J. Parker's phenomenal Akitada mystery series has been gaining fans with each new novel. The latest, "The Convict's Sword," is the most fully realized installment to date, weaving history, drama, mystery, romance, and adventure into a story of passion and redemption. Lord Sugawara Akitada, the senior secretary in the Ministry of Justice, must find the mysterious killer of a man condemned to live in exile for a crime he did not commit. Meanwhile, Akitadaas retainer, Tora, investigates the sudden death of a blind street singer, whose past life is a bigger mystery than anyone thought. Told in Parker's clever, vivid prose, The Convict's Sword is a must-read for those who love well-written mysteries in an exotic setting. - Publisher Marketing
    Updated 6.17.09
  • The Revenge of Captain Paine: A Pyke Mystery
    Author: Pepper, Andrew
    $ 16.95 ISBN: 0753824000  Date: 2009
    star PW
    It is 1834 and with the birth of the Industrial Revolution, railway fever sweeps the country. Pyke is uneasy with the luxury his aristocratic marriage has brought him, and when he is asked to unofficially investigate a decapitation in Cambridgeshire, he can not resist the chance to resuscitate the old skills he learned on the streets. But with the industrial world comes a new and faceless enemy--men who have money and power, and who will stop at nothing in their pursuit of both. For Pyke, with his young wife and child and an elevated place in society to protect, the stakes have suddenly become alarmingly high. From the sweat shops of the east end to the palace of the Queen-in-waiting; from the elegant drawing rooms of the newly rich, to the bloodspattered backrooms of London's taverns; Pyke's investigation stirs up a hornets' nest of trouble. As the death toll rises, his wife becomes involved with the radicals' fight against the industrialists, and an alluring woman from his past returns to threaten the life he has made for them both, Pyke must adapt to the ever-changing world around him and draw on all of his resources if he is to protect his family and survive. - Publisher Marketing
    Updated 6.1.09
  • In the Shadow of Gotham
    Author: Pintoff, Stephanie
    $ 24.95 ISBN: 9780312544904 Date: 2009
    star PW star LJ
    An atmospheric, taut, and truly original historical mystery, In the Shadow of Gotham features an engaging main character and a gorgeously rendered setting: turn-of-the-century New York.
    Updated 3.31.09
  • Gaslight Crime: Con Artists, Burglars, Rogues and Scoundrels
    Author: Sims, Michael (edt)
    $ 15 ISBN: 9780143105664 Date: 2009
    star PW
    An exclusive collection-the first ever gathering of rogues from the gaslight era
    collected here for the first time: the best crime fiction from the gaslight era. All the legendary thieves are presentaArsA]ne Lupin and A. J. Raffles, Colonel Clay and Simon Carne, Romney Pringle, Get Rich Quick Wallingford, and the Infallible Godahlaburgling London and Paris, conning New York and Ostend, laughing all the way to the bank. Also featured are stories by distinguished writers from outside the mystery and detective genres, including Sinclair Lewis, Arnold Bennett, H. G. Wells, and William Hope Hodgson.- Publisher Marketing
    Updated 3.31.09
  • The Secret Speech
    Author: Smith, Tom Rob
    $ 24.99 ISBN: 9780446402408 Date: 2009
    starBooklist star Kirkus
    Smith's first novel, Child 44, was one of the most critically acclaimed books of the year. Now the author returns with a new thriller set in the turmoil and upheaval of the post-Stalinist Soviet Union.
    Updated 3.31.09
  • Fatal Lies
    Author: Tallis, Frank
    $15 ISBN: 9780812977776 Date: 2009
    starPW starBooklist
    The eagerly awaited third novel in the Max Liebermann series about a psychoanalytic detective is set in Vienna, 1903. At St. Florian's military school, a young cadet is found dead. Inspector Oskar Rheinhardt calls on his friend, Dr. Liebermann, to help him investigate.
    Updated 2.27.09
  • A Matter of Justice
    Author: Todd, Charles
    $ 24.99 ISBN: 9780061233593 Date: 2009
    star PW
    The superb new entry in the Inspector Ian Rutledge mystery series the "New York Times Book Review" hails as outstanding and the "Washington Post" proclaims as one of the best being written today.
    Updated 11.3.08
  • A Duty to the Dead
    Author: Todd, Charles
    $ 24.99 ISBN: 9780061791765 Date: 2009
    star LJ
    A Duty to the Dead, the first book of an exciting new series, is set in England during World War I, and features a spectacular female protagonist.
    Updated 7.15.09
  • The Innocent Spy
    Author: Wilson, Laura
    $ 25 ISBN: 9780312538101 Date: 2009
    "A compelling and wonderfully atmospheric murder mystery" (Robert Goddard), this is the first in an exciting new series of crime novels from celebrated author Wilson.
    Updated 4.22.09
  • Among the Mad
    Author: Winspear, Jacqueline
    $ 25 ISBN: 9780805082166 Date: 2009
    In the thrilling new mystery by the "New York Times"-bestselling author of An Incomplete Revenge, Maisie Dobbs must catch a madman before he commits murder on an unimaginable scale.
    Updated 2.26.09

Starred Review Lists

Books that received at least one starred review from Booklist, Kirkus, LJ, and PW.

2013 Crime Fiction: Jan-June | Fiction: Jan-June | Speculative Fiction

2012 Crime Fiction: July-Dec | Fiction: July-Dec | Speculative Fiction

Hotlists@ Google Docs

Crime Fiction... 2013 | 2012 | 2011

Fiction... 2013 | 2012 | 2011

(lists of new and notable books - lists are sortable and can be downloaded)

more stars lists...

book mark Overbooked

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