2013 Books of the Year: Best Historical Mystery Runner-up

Best Historical Mystery Runner-up: The Stockholm Octavo by Karen Engelmann.  It is quite rare that I find a historical mystery set in Scandinavia (so rare I don’t have any in my catalog of reading from the last six years), but I just finished Karen Engelmann’s “The Stockholm Octavo.”  The book is really more historical fiction than mystery and details the events leading up to Swedish King Gustav III’s assassination in 1792.  The main character is Emil Larsson, a bureaucrat in the Customs Office who enjoys gambling at cards at night, but is being pressured by his superior to get married and settle down.  A fortune-teller lays down a set of eight cards (an octavo) which predicts “love and connection” for Emil if only he can identify which personages are represented in the cards.  But Emil’s octavo is not the only one in play and his eight people are also characters in the political plots surrounding the king.  Despite knowing the eventual ending, Engelmann keeps the tension level reasonably high and the atmosphere and character development are also pretty good.  Given how few titles have this geographic setting, it might be worth a try.

Honorable Mention, Historical Mystery.  Strangled in Paris by Claude Izner.  Similar to the Robertson entry, this latest book about Paris bookshop owner/private investigator Victor Legris is an improvement on an already good series.

For all my previous “books of the year” lists, see my dedicated page for these titles.

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2 Responses to “2013 Books of the Year: Best Historical Mystery Runner-up”


  1. 1 Professor VJ Duke December 17, 2013 at 12:30 pm

    Historical Mysteries one of the professor’s favorites….Sequel do you think?

  2. 2 unsetclock December 19, 2013 at 1:34 pm

    Given the ending to the book, I’m not sure a sequel is possible. Have not seen any mention of one, but am still hopeful.


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