The combination of history with mystery is a beguiling one. It's hard to believe now, but when Agaaha Christie wrote a whodunit set in Ancient Egypt, Death Comes as the End, it was an unusual - and rather brave - thing to do. Now, historical mysteries abound, and a number of authors have carved terrific reputations in the field.
I first came across The History Press when they agreed to publish last year's Murder Squad anthology, Best Eaten Cold. The book appeared under a new imprint, The Mystery Press, and this is a brand which seems to be going from strength to strength.
Two recent titles from this stable deserve particular mention. Dead Image, by Joan Lock, is a paperback edition of a book which first appeared more than a decade ago. Joan Lock is a former police officer (so was her late husband Bob, a chap with a delightful sense of humour whom I first met, with Joan, at CWA conferences more than 20 years ago.) She has a great deal of expertise in the field of police history, and this book, featuring Detective Sergeant Best, is a typically well-researched and entertaining novel. Joan is definitely an author to check out, and an acknowledged expert in her field.
Paul Emanuelli, in contrast, is a new name to me. His book Avon Street, is a tale of murder in Victorian Bath. As Peter Lovesey has shown, Bath is a fascinating setting for a mystery, and Emanuelli has produced an adventure story with its roots - as a short afterword explains - in reality. There's some good stuff here, but the book is twice as long as Dead Image, and I think Joan Lock's book shows that there is often a great deal of merit in concision, even if it means excluding some interesting research material.