Posted by Racer on April 28, 2007, at 14:03:38
In reply to If I like Ellis Peters and Ellery Queen, posted by Dinah on April 28, 2007, at 10:12:48
Anne Perry -- who was one of the girls in "Heavenly Creatures" -- has written three separate historical series. One, my favorite, is set just after the Crimean war, and begins with "The Face of a Stranger." It's well written, and quite interesting from an historical standpoint.
The second series, which I think was begun first, is set in the later 1880s/1890s. The first in this series is "The Cater Street Hangman." All the books in this series includes a street name in the title. I won't tell you more, because it would probably be a spoiler for the first book.
Then there's her latest, which I believe begins with "No Graves As Yet," and is set in the opening days of the First World War. I've only read the first, and can say that it's up to the high standards the other series' have set.
Sharyn McCrumb also has several different series going. The first I read has two books in it: "B*mbos of the Death Sun," which is brilliant, and "Zombies of the Gene Pool," which is interesting, but not quite as brilliant. (Although it does have some fine "Dueling Banjoes" riffs in it...) The second series is set in contemporary times, and features a heroine named Elizabeth MacPherson. I can't remember the first of those books, though, so you're on your own. They're fun. The series I think you'd really enjoy, though, is the Ballad novels -- each is named after an Appalachian folk ballad. The first is "If Ever I Return, Pretty Peggy-O." Set in a small town near the Tennesee/NC border, they're nominally about small town residents, but have a lot of ghosts -- the real kind, not the sort who float around. The kind that we carry with us, like when I can suddenly feel my grandmother's love touch me, if that makes sense? They're lovely, include real scholarship, and are just too much fun.
Steven Saylor has writtne a number of books set in Ancient Rome, and I've learned a lot of history as a result. They're enjoyable, although not Really Brilliant. They're fun, though.
For sheer fun, though, I recommend Martha Grimes' early Richard Jury books. "The Man With A Load Of Mischief" is the starting point, and there are always some hysterically funny bits to them. The later books have become rather dim, though -- less joy, more depression, but still some funny bits. (My loyalty is eternal, though, since one of the characters hired an ornamental hermit for his property...)
I hope there's something in there that helps.