: As the only female reporter at the , twenty-two-year-old Sophie Strong is thrilled when she’s invited to cover the party of the season. Soon she’s swept into the opulent world of the city’s wealthy brewing families. But before she can even get to her typewriter, she discovers a murder victim. The intriguing Detective Jacob Zimmer warns her to leave sleuthing to the police, while Sophie’s editor insists she focus on tea parties and fashion shows. But when her friend Clara Elliot comes under suspicion, Sophie is determined to uncover the truth—even if she risks her own life along the way. Check out this historical mystery sure to intrigue fans of Rhys Bowen, Alyssa Maxwell, and Victoria Thompson.
Explore New Worlds in Historical Mysteries
~ by Amy Renshaw, author of Strong Suspicions: A Sophie Strong Mystery
I remember the history classes I took in school as being rather dry affairs with an emphasis on wars, the years they took place, and why they got started. But in historical mystery novels, we encounter history from an entirely different angle. These books combine the intriguing puzzle of a murder mystery with a glimpse into how people lived in another time and place.
My favorite historical mysteries offer a chance to learn about an intriguing career or field of expertise. For example, in A Peculiar Combination, the first book in a new series by , we meet a young woman who makes her living as a safecracker and con artist in England during World War II. She explains how safes work and describes her method for breaking into them.
Another series by the same author features a wealthy couple named Amory and Milo Ames who solve mysteries among high society in 1930s Europe. In The Essence of Malice, they cross paths with a world-famous French parfumier and find out how new fragrances are developed with blends of essential oils.
The Giver of Stars, by , isn’t a conventional whodunnit, but it involves a mysterious death that eventually gets resolved. The central characters are inspired by the packhorse librarians of Kentucky, women who traveled around on horseback delivering books to rural families in the 1930s.
When I came up with the idea for the Sophie Strong mystery series, I loved the idea of Sophie working as a journalist in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, in the 1910s. As a reporter, Sophie can run around the city asking questions and looking for clues while she’s doing her job. There were quite a few real female journalists in the area at that time. Two women reporters who worked for Milwaukee papers around the turn of the century, Edna Ferber and Zona Gale, went on to become popular novelists.
In Sophie Strong’s next adventure, she’ll go behind the scenes at one of the massive department stores of her era. It was the golden age of American department stores, when they functioned like miniature cities. In addition to several floors of merchandise, a store might include restaurants, a delicatessen, a beauty salon, a box office, and a travel agency. Some even housed radio stations.
In the future, I hope to have Sophie discover new mysteries as she reports from locations like a movie theater, a museum, or a photography studio. Each new setting offers the promise of fascinating facts about a specific world in the early twentieth century.
What are your favorite mystery series, and what worlds do they invite you to explore?
Author Amy Renshaw loves writing, reading, and sleuthing about history. She's the Senior Editor at , an award-winning publication from the Bahá’ís of the U.S. Amy lives in Wisconsin, where she hikes in the woods, adores chocolate, and writes novels.Learn more at , or follow her on Facebook or Instagram at @amyrenshawauthor.