Sylvia's Historical Crime Fiction Top Ten

1. Alexandria (AD 77) - Lindsey Davis
Arrow £7.99

"Marcus Didius Falco is a constant delight. A talented, resourceful and humorous investigator of crime in Roman times. In this book he and his family are in Egypt for a holiday and provide an insight into the source of knowledge that was the Great Library."

2. A Morbid Taste for Bones (1137) - Ellis Peters
Sphere £7.99

"This is the first of the magnificent series about Brother Cadfael, monk, herbalist and erstwhile soldier. These books introduced me to historical crime and this is one of the best."

3. The Name of the Rose (1327) - Umberto Eco
Vintage £8.99

"A complex and historically fascinating tale of mediaeval murder. The Franciscan monk William of Baskerville and his Benedictine novice companion, Adso, are asked by the Abbot to investigate several deaths in the monastery. Many literary references abound as William uses his powers of deduction to find the simplest solution."

4. Dark Fire (1540) - C. J. Sansom
Pan £7.99

"Shardlake, hunch-backed lawyer and investigator in Tudor times, has become a great favourite. This series is beautifully crafted and sensitively written against a tapestry of Tudor life. "

5. Prophecy (1576) - S. J. Parris
Harper £7.99

"Bruno, ex monk and free thinker, investigator for the Tudor monarchy, is different in that he actually walked the streets of London. What I love about these books is the immediacy of the descriptions. I am there in Tudor London."

6. Martyr - Rory Clements
John Murray £7.99

"I make no apologies for yet another Tudor thriller. I love this period and it is such a critical time in our history. John Shakespeare is a worthy addition to the sleuths of the era as he battles against some of the nastiest villains ever (and they existed)!"

7. Island of Bones - Imogen Robertson
Headline £6.99

"Harriet Westerman and Gabriel Crowther are an unlikely couple who work together to investigate unsolved eighteenth century mysteries. ĎIsland of Bonesí is my favourite of the series so far as it reveals some of the personal histories as well as discovering details of the history and folklore of the Lake District."

8. The Somme Stations - Andrew Martin
Faber £7.99

"Jim Stringer, the hero of these series of railway-based stories, is a laconic humorous character with a gift for funny throw-away lines. This book, winner of the CWA Ellis Peters Dagger, sees Jim grow in maturity as he faces the horrors of the First World War."

9. Stratton's War - Laura Wilson
Orion £7.99

"D.I. Ted Stratton inhabits the London of 1940, dealing with all the chaos and mayhem of the blitz. All the stresses and strains of that time, the fear, the irritations and the disruption are beautifully portrayed in this first of a stunning series."

10. Ashes to Ashes - Barbara Nadel
Headline £7.99

"Hancock the undertaker, not an immediate first choice for an investigator, is a sensitive and haunted character who gets under your skin. This book both describes how he deals with his nightmares and provides authentic and realistic detail of the night St Paulís was bombed. This one stuck in my memory for a long time."