Imagine the enchanting magical mist outside the window, the evening sun piercing its soft rays through the dense clouds, your comfort space covered in the warmest of your blankets, and a piping hot mug of coffee in one hand and your favourite novel in the other! Sounds like a dream? Well, make this dream possible, and let our carefully curated list of historical mysteries keep you warm on long winter nights. Each novel is intricately woven with intrigue and suspense, offering an ideal reading experience to snuggle up with during the winter season.
Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn
On a pleasant summer morning in North Carthage, Missouri, Amy and Nick Dunne are celebrating their fifth wedding anniversary. As preparations are underway with gift-wrapping and reservations, Nick, the self-proclaimed ‘husband-of-the-year’, faces scrutiny due to unsettling daydreams about his wife’s physical features. Amy’s diary excerpts, however, uncover the perfectionist nature of the alpha girl, potentially unsettling anyone in her vicinity. With increasing pressure from law enforcement, the media, and Amy’s devoted parents, Nick, the town’s golden boy, engages in a series of lies, deceptions, and inappropriate actions. While Nick appears oddly evasive and harbours bitterness, the question remains: Is he truly a murderer?
Author, Gillian Flynn, skillfully portrays the dissolution of a seemingly perfect marriage against the backdrop of a struggling recession-struck Midwest. By intertwining Amy’s diary entries with her husband Nick’s firsthand narrative, Flynn’s novel becomes a deliciously balanced space of competing narratives, where the “truth” is revealed to be carefully crafted, ingeniously performed and ultimately brutally annihilated
Rebecca by Daphne Du Maurier
A renowned 20th-century novella, famously adapted by the ‘Master of Suspense’, Sir Alfred Hitchcock, “Rebecca” unfolds a gothic narrative of love, murder, and concealed truths. The unnamed protagonist, an orphaned lady’s companion, settles into her seemingly fixed societal position, only for life to take a sudden and desolate turn. A chance encounter with Maxim de Winter, the reserved yet charismatic widower, flourishes into a quick romance in the South of France and leads to an even hastier marriage proposal. And so, the novel begins. Transported from glamorous Monte Carlo to the brooding estate of Manderley on the Cornish Coast, the new Mrs. de Winter encounters a transformed Max, haunted by the memory of his late wife, Rebecca, a ghost sustained and perpetuated by the formidable housekeeper Mrs Danvers. “Rebecca” is an enduring classic that delves into the haunting journey of a young woman consumed by love and forced into an essential quest for self-discovery.
The Girl on the Train by Paula Hawkins
“The Girl on the Train” by Paula Hawkins is a gripping psychological thriller that takes readers on a dark and suspenseful journey. The narrative is skillfully constructed, offering multiple perspectives that are woven together to create a complex and intriguing storyline. The author masterfully explores themes of obsession, addiction, and the consequences of deception. The novel delves into the intricacies of human relationships, exposing the fragility of trust and the dark secrets that can lurk beneath the surface of seemingly ordinary lives. Readers who enjoy psychological mysteries with a dose of suspense and unexpected twists are likely to find this book to be a compelling and engaging read.
And Then There Were None by Agatha Christie
In Agatha Christie’s celebrated novel, ten strangers, invited by absent hosts Mr. and Mrs. U.N. Owen, find themselves accused of heinous crimes. Alienated from the mainland, the group, already prone to mistrust and suspicion, is roused to panicked terror as a sudden death suggests the presence of a murderer in the midst. The eclectic group of ten, featured a daring playboy, a troubled Harley Street doctor, a stern judge, a brash detective, a ruthless mercenary, a devout spinster, two restless servants, a highly decorated general, and an anxious secretary, truly come alive in this rip-roaring mystery thriller. As mysterious deaths continue to pile on, the question of who will survive and who the killer is becomes increasingly urgent. Each room carries copies of a foreboding nursery rhyme, detailing the grim fates of its “Ten Little Soldier Boys,” mirroring the murders damned to unfold on the isolated island.
The Alienist by Caleb Carr
Set in 1896 in the bustling city of New York, the story follows newspaper reporter John Schuyler Moore. His life takes an unexpected turn when his friend, Dr. Laszlo Kreizler, a pioneering psychologist known as an “alienist,” requests his presence to examine the gruesomely mutilated body of a young boy left on the incomplete Williamsburg Bridge. What ensues is a groundbreaking venture in criminology as they endeavour to construct a psychological profile of the perpetrator, analyzing the intricate details of the crimes. Their perilous journey thrusts them into the dark recesses of a murderer’s troubled past and convoluted psyche, compelling them to unravel the mysteries before another life is claimed.
Upon its initial release in 1994, “The Alienist” became a literary sensation, captivating readers with its compelling narrative. This contemporary classic remains an enduring reference point in historical suspense fiction, cherished by readers around the globe.
The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll & Mr. Hyde by Robert Louis Stevenson
Embark on a journey into the shadows of human behaviour with “The Strange Case of Dr Jekyll & Mr Hyde” by Robert Louis Stevenson. This compelling novella delves into the complexities of the human psyche, unravelling the dual nature of man and the repercussions of unbridled desires. The narrative unfolds as a chilling and contemplative exploration, inviting readers to reflect on the haunting consequences of unchecked impulses. The author’s masterful narrative explores the dichotomy and the complexities of the human condition, offering an enduring and resonant reading experience, leaving readers to question the intricate facets of their own existence.
A Study in Scarlet by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle
Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s “A Study in Scarlet” introduces readers to the brilliant detective Sherlock Holmes and his loyal companion Dr. John Watson in a masterful debut that sets the stage for an iconic literary legacy. The author’s narrative prowess shines through in the meticulous construction of the plot. The intricate details of the investigation showcase Holmes’s unparalleled deductive skills, leaving readers both astounded and captivated. The chemistry between Holmes and Watson is palpable, with Watson’s pragmatic narration complementing Holmes’s enigmatic brilliance. The storytelling takes a unique turn as the author transports readers to the American frontier, providing a refreshing departure from typical Victorian London settings. This unexpected shift adds layers to the narrative, revealing the true scope of the author’s storytelling abilities.
Crime and Punishment by Fyodor Dostoevsky
Fyodor Dostoevsky’s penetrating psychological analysis delves beyond the surface of Raskolnikov’s criminal deed. The narrative becomes a profound exploration of the human condition, unravelling the intricate layers of Raskolnikov’s psyche. The novel doesn’t merely focus on the act of crime; it becomes a compelling chronicle of Raskolnikov’s perilous journey from suffering to redemption. As the narrative unfolds, readers are compelled to question whether crime can be deemed acceptable in the pursuit of a supposedly higher purpose. “Crime and Punishment,” stands as a powerful revelation, exposing the complexities of morality, redemption, and the enduring struggles within the human soul. The novel challenges readers to contemplate the limits of justifiable actions in the pursuit of perceived noble goals.
The Hound of the Baskervilles by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle
“The Hound of the Baskervilles” stands as the third instalment among the four crime novels penned by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, featuring the legendary detective Sherlock Holmes. Originally serialized in The Strand Magazine from August 1901 to April 1902, this tale unfolds predominantly on Dartmoor in Devon, within England’s West Country. The narrative revolves around an attempted murder, intricately woven with the chilling legend of a malevolent, supernatural hound. “The Hound of the Baskervilles” not only captivated readers but also paved the way for the eventual revival of the iconic detective character. The author’s masterful storytelling, coupled with the enigmatic allure, solidifies this novel as a timeless classic in the realm of crime fiction.
Murder on the Orient Express by Agatha Christie
Hailed as one of the classic whodunits, “The Murder on the Orient Express”, is the most widely read mystery of all time. Shortly past midnight, the renowned Orient Express grinds to a halt, ensnared by a thick blanket of snow. By daybreak, the millionaire Samuel Edward Ratchett lies lifeless in his compartment, stabbed a dozen times, with the door locked from the inside. There’s no room for doubt—among his fellow passengers, the murderer lurks. Marooned by the storm, detective Hercule Poirot faces the daunting task of unmasking the killer within the circle of the deceased man’s adversaries before the murderer strikes again.
As the winter nights grow longer, immerse yourself in the captivating worlds of these 10 Historical Fiction Mysteries and get transported to the mysteries you’ll love exploring.
Pick up a historical fiction mystery that’s ideal for a winter read from any Kunzum store or WhatsApp +91.8800200280 to order. Buy the book(s) and the coffee’s on us.
About the reviewer:
29-year-old Apoorva Khare works as an editor with a leading publishing house based in New Delhi. She has recently published her debut novel Beneath the Gulmohar Tree which is available globally on Amazon. | Apoorva’s Instagram