Looking to start your cozy fall reading list! You’ll love this roundup. This short list of what to read this month is full of mystery, drama, history, romance, and oh so much more!
WHAT TO READ THIS MONTH
Twenty-One Days: A Daniel Pitt Novel by Anne Perry
Anne Perry beautifully blends a fascinating mystery story with the politics and culture of an historical time period in all of her writings. In the 32-book series, she shows us through the eyes of Thomas Pitt the political minefields of England during the 1880s/1890s. While watching Pitt solve horrendous crimes, you also learn about the effects of women’s suffrage, Queen Victoria and the monarchy, political upheaval, and foreign intervention.
Twenty-One Days is the first in Perry’s newest series, featuring Thomas’ son Daniel Pitt, a newly graduated lawyer. Daniel’s client is Russell Graves, a tell-all biographer who is accused of the brutal murder and disfigurement of his wife. He is found guilty and sentenced to die in twenty-one days. Graves insists he is innocent and wants Daniel to keep searching for the truth. Daniel soon learns that Graves had been writing an exposé of his father’s work with the English government’s Special Branch. To clear his father’s name, Daniel also has twenty-one days to prove Graves is wrong about Thomas Pitt and to discover who murdered Graves’ wife.
The Witch Elm by Tana French
If you read murder mysteries, you’re probably already familiar with Tana French from her Dublin Murder Squad series – loosely connected sketches of modern Ireland in the guise of detective stories. With The Witch ElmFrench continues her subversion of the genre in her first standalone novel.
When we meet our narrator, Toby Hennessy, life is good – he has a lovely girlfriend, Melissa, a flat bought for him by his parents, and a decent job in PR. When a brutal robbery gone wrong lands him in the hospital with a traumatic brain injury, his charmed life begins to lose some of its glint. This only continues, as his beloved Uncle Hugo is diagnosed with brain cancer, leading Toby and Melissa to move in to the family home, The Elm House, to care for him – or perhaps for Hugo to care for Toby. Their domestic life is shattered when a skull is dislodged from the ancient witch elm in the garden, unleashing a murder investigation in which Toby can’t help but involve himself.
This is a quiet book, one that moves so slowly you start to wonder where it could possibly be going. The readers’ view is completely constrained by Toby’s increasingly unreliable narration, as he jumps from one lead to another in his quest to understand just what happened, until suddenly, startlingly, all is clear. Not recommended for those who want a page-turning plot, but for those content to meander down the garden path with Tana French in the lead, this is absolutely excellent.
Bringing Down the Duke by Evie Dunmore
It is a truth universally acknowledged that a historical romance novel set in England must be in want of a duke (apologies to Austen). How else to explain the approximately hundred thousand roaming the pages of “romancelandia?” Lucky for you, Evie Dunmore’s debut, Bringing Down the Duke, knows exactly what to do with one.
In late Victorian England, women are just being admitted to Oxford, and Annabelle Archer is part of that extraordinary first class. On scholarship from a suffragette society intent on persuading men of power to their cause, Annabelle is assigned to Sebastian Devereux, Duke of Montgomery and architect of the Tory’s political campaign. Both have so much to lose if the other triumphs, and yet, they cannot seem to stay away from each other, as impossible as a romance between a destitute vicar’s daughter and a Duke might seem.
Bringing Down the Duke is a wonderful example of a new trend in historical romances to break away from their ahistorical bubble of parties, the ton, and endless aristocrats to consider the gilded cages these women lived in, the very real social issues pressing from all sides, and give us love stories that don’t carefully elide over the realities of the day.
Beyond that, it’s a swoon-worthy story that will have you furtively reading at every chance you get until, sadly, you reach the last page. Happily for us, there are more in the series to come!