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THE INK PENN

Opinion: Historical fiction with a splash of mystery

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Goodness, how I love my library! When I read a book review in the Wall Street Journal, the Atlanta paper, or somewhere online, I find appealing books and jot the titles down. That means there are lists of books on the screened porch, by my chair in the living room, and on my desk. Eventually, those titles make it to one of two online shelves at my library, either Hold or Save for later.

The order in which I consume books is dictated by the library and when the books become available. Last year, these two novels came in at the same time. Both are historical fiction with a splash of mystery, and since the anniversary of D-Day just passed, they seem timely. Travel with me to the WWII era through two marvelous books.


“The Rose Code” by Kate Quinn

This may well be the best book I read last year. Kate Quinn does a masterful job of weaving fictional characters into the lives of historical figures and revealing the amazing story of the work that went on at Bletchley Park during WW II.

You're sure to be intrigued by Osma, the real-life Canadian deb who was a codebreaker at Bletchley Park and was Prince Phillip's wartime girlfriend. Your heart will break at the grueling work done by the women who worked at Bletchley, work they couldn't speak of, lest they run afoul of the Official Secrets Act.

To the outside world, they were clerical workers, when in fact, they were so much more. Even the Author's Notes and the Acknowledgements at the end are thrilling reads. If you read one book this year, let it be this one!


“The Consequences of Fear” by Jacqueline Winspear

Book 16 in the Maisie Dobbs series does not disappoint! It's difficult to say which of Winspear's books is my favorite, as I started with "Maisie Dobbs" in 2003, but this one may be it. Yes, at its heart, this is a mystery series, but it's also historical fiction at its best. Perhaps it's the way Maisie's life has evolved since the WW I era when we first met her. In this latest addition to the series, it's WW II, and London is enduring the blitz.

You feel as though you are there as you experience Maisie solving a complex case and the emotional upheavals she endures as she, her friends, and family live through yet another war. What I love about Maisie is that she is a complex, mature, capable woman who never stops growing. Through the years, I've teared up at her sorrows and smiled at her joys.

Book 17, “A Sunlit Weapon,” was released in March this year — and, yes, the blitz continues. In this one, Eleanor Roosevelt is visiting London and traveling around England to visit U.S. troops.

Now, time’s a wastin’, and I have yet another stack of books to get to. Hope you do too.

Find Kathy's cozy mysteries locally at The Enchanted Forest and on Amazon. Follow her on Facebook @KathyManosPennAuthor.

The Ink Penn

Award-winning author Kathy Manos Penn is a longtime columnist for Appen Media and the Dunwoody Crier. She lives in Sandy Springs.