The Mysterious Bookshop

Hysterical For Historicals


Time.  Is it an artificial construct for human convenience, or an immutable law of nature?  What of the near-universal desire to bend it to one’s needs and desires?  Will there ever be actual time travel?  Where would you go?  What would you do?  As far as y_r friendly blogger is concerned, we’d have to travel to at least four places:

Sixty or seventy or a hundred million years ago to see what dinosaurs looked like;

1920 at the Polo Grounds in Harlem--Babe Ruth vs. Ty Cobb;

1962 at the Cavern Club in Liverpool to see the Fab Four;

Dallas, Texas, November 1963 to see what really happened to Kennedy.

There are others, to be sure, but for now the closest we are liable to get is with historical fiction.  Herewith, some of the best novels involving time travel:

A Murder In Time by Julie McElwain--FBI agent Kendra Donovan is on a hot case when she’s thrust into the year 1815.  How will she cope with being stripped of twenty-first century amenities?  How would you?

Time and Again by Jack Finney--A man from 1970 ends up in 1882 New York, and rather likes it. A classic. A sequel, From Time To Time, sees Simon Morley journey back to 1911, hoping to prevent WWI, or at least the sinking of the Titanic.

Experiment by Fredric Brown--Sending a small brass cube back and forth in time results in disaster.

The Tourist by Robert Dickinson--Back and forth from the 21st century to the 25th.

11/22/63 by Stephen King--A man discovers a time portal and tries to prevent the assassination of JFK.

The Eyre Affair by Jasper Fforde--Time shifting and alternate reality collide around a literary classic.


Top-notchers set in the past:

The Alienist by Caleb Carr--In 1896 New York City, NYT reporter John Schuyler Moore is summoned to a crime scene by his friend Laszlo Kreizler, an ‘alienist,’ or psychologist. Police commissioner Theodore Roosevelt enlists both men to investigate.

The Name of the Rose by Umberto Eco--In 1327, Brother William is sent to investigate charges of heresy in an Italian abbey, and runs into multiple murders.

Pompeii by Robert Harris--The Roman empire is at its zenith, but storm clouds are on the horizon.


Moping about the present?  Gloomy about the future?  Then head to the past!  Most of these titles are available or order-able here at Mysterious, so drop a line or stop by!


Questions/Comments/Mr. Peabody says, ‘Quiet, you!’

Written by Ian Kern — August 10, 2017

Specializing in Mystery Fiction and all its subgenres, including Detective, Crime, Hardboiled, Thrillers, Espionage, and Suspense.

Located at 58 Warren St in New York City, we are open Monday-Saturday from 11am-7pm. 212.587.1011

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