From Socrates to the Emperor Augustus to Lucrezia Borgia and many other notables across Europe and Asia, history is scattered with examples of the victims and perpetrators of death by poison.
So naturally, in perhaps another instance of art imitating life, historical mysteries have their fair share of the use of poisons as the murder weapon. And having talked about cuisine in historical mysteries before, it didn’t take long for us to make the connection between food and murder most foul. So that’s where we take you in this next podcast.
Here are the authors and book we mention:
Susanna Gregory, A Deadly Brew, A Poisonous Plot
Steven Saylor, The Venus Throw, The Judgement of Caesar
Ellis Peters, Monk’s Hood, One Corpse Too Many
Sara Poole, Poison, The Borgia Betrayal
For more on this subject, check out our blog post, which includes some further suggested reading. And don’t forget to let us know about your favorite historical mysteries featuring poisons!
What makes historical mysteries such compelling reads? It’s not just the historical settings or the suspense and pace of a rollicking good bit of detective fiction. It’s also the fact that when it’s done well, historical fiction can give you a visceral sense of being right there. And food is as much a part of being a spectator to a bygone era as the sights, smells, colors, social interactions, and daily goings-on of the particular locale that the stories are set in.
Besides, we might as well admit it – we’re foodies, and descriptions of food and cuisine add as much to our enjoyment of this genre as historical settings, page-turning plot lines and character development do!
So in this podcast, we explore the cuisines of antiquity and how they play a part in the stories that we love to read. Let us know what ancient cuisines tickle your palate, and your favorite novels featuring foods!
Here are the particular cuisines we talk about, and the authors that feature them in their works:
Roman: Steven Saylor, Caroline Lawrence
Egyptian: PC Doherty
Medieval English: PC Doherty, Ellis Peters
Viking: Bernard Cornwell
You can also check out our blog post on some spicy mysteries in historical fiction.
Photo credit: Southernpixel – Alby Headrick
How many historical mysteries are written in the first person, as opposed to the voice of the all-knowing narrator? How important is point-of-view to the reader? Does the style of narration and dialog have to be authentic to the historical period? Does any of this matter?
If you’re as besotted with history, mystery and writing as we are, then you want the answers to these questions, and more. Picking up from where we left off in our second podcast, we explore these questions by – you guessed it – reading from some of our favorite historical fiction novels, and then discussing what it all means.
Does first person narration connect better with the reader? Does the story sound more authentic if the dialog is reflective of the period in which it’s set? We’d love to hear what you think, after you listen to our podcast.
Here are the authors we mention:
Lindsey Davis, The Iron Hand of Mars
Ellis Peters, The Pilgrim of Hate
A journey of a thousand miles starts with a single step, says the Chinese proverb. Presumably, a road map would be helpful, too! In our first podcast, we started off on our exploration of history, mystery and writing and promised to provide just such a road map. And what better way to do that than to highlight what we are reading now on our journey?
So, in our second podcast, we share our favorite stories from Day of Fire, a collection of short stories set in Pompeii during the eruption of Vesuvius in AD 79 (you can read our reviews here and here). The collection is edited by Stephanie Dray (who is the author of the Cleopatra’s Daughter series set in ancient Egypt). Also referenced in our podcast is Kate Quinn’s Mistress of Rome series.
If you have read Day of Fire, let us know what your favorite stories are. And if you haven’t read this collection yet, make sure to add it to your reading list, and make up your own road map. The beauty of this particular journey is that there are many road maps to choose from!
Here are the authors from this collection.
Stephanie Dray, The Whore
Ben Kane, The Soldier
E. Knight, The Mother
Sophie Perinot, The Heiress
Kate Quinn, The Senator
Vicky Alvear Shecter, The Son
Ever since I read my first Steven Saylor novel, I’ve been hooked to mystery stories set in Ancient Rome. For the first few years, I was too busy reading and chasing down the ones I hadn’t read. And I never stopped to ask “Why are so many historical mysteries set in Rome?”
So for our first podcast at HistorynMystery, Ramesh and I decided to explore this question and more. As promised in the podcast, here are the authors and books that we talk about in this first podcast.
Albert Bell, Pliny the Younger case series
Bruce MacBain, Plinius Secundus series
Caroline Lawrence, The Roman Mysteries
Colleen McCullough, Masters of Rome series
John Maddox Roberts, SPQR series
Kate Quinn, Mistress of Rome series
Lindsey Davis, Marcus Didius Falco series
Robert Harris, Cicero series – Pompeii
Steven Saylor, Roma Sub Rosa series
Let us know why you think Rome is such a popular setting for historical mysteries, and what your favorite Roman mystery novels are.