One of my deficits as a reader of literary and crime fiction is that I am unable to read books set very far in the past. It seems too much of the text is taken up with the presentation of arcane material on how people lived in that time.
As a former history major, I am embarrassed at this failing.
Is there a series or even a single book that does this job very well, balancing crime and a evocation of the time period? I would like to read something different this summer and maybe this is the time for historical fiction. I am talking about a book set before 1900 and probably even earlier. Thanks.

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I have to confess I had no idea about the wealth of historical crime fiction that existed. And hats off to the writers who spend so much time doing research to make these novels compelling, informative and accurate. I have read The Alienist, some Laurie King and some Ellis Peters and van Gulik, but most of the rest are uncharted waters for me.
That's really interesting, Joy. I've had friends who said they liked ANGEL better, and friends who said it wasn't as good (more in this group, actually). All I know about it is Stevie, so I'm looking forward to that much! I'm sure I'll post my opinions somewhere, once I've swallowed it.

At my fiction group tonight we ended up talking about the Cadfael series by Ellis Peters, and it got me thinking about this thread. So I'd definitely toss that in here, just because those stories were so enjoyable.
I just found a publisher for a historical whodunnit I wrote set in 1894 northern Michigan. It fell easily in place with actual occurences of Edison giving the first phonograph demonstration on Mackinac Island, to the gritty, natural chaos of the logging industry.

I tried not to 'overdo' the era, but use it as a backdrop. Were there telephones, cars, microwave ovens? Lotsa stuff to consider.

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