Historical sleuths are mainly a modern phenomenon and the literature abounds with better or worse variations, depending on how much research the author has been willing to invest in ensuring that the time in which the detective (almost always a private individual) lives. Two exceptions to the private individual are Michael Jecks’ Sir Baldwin de Furnshill and Bailiff Simon Puttock who ply their trade in the time of Edward II and Robert van Gulick’s Judge Dee of the T’ang Dynasty in China. The setting varies from the truly ancient (Lord Amerotke of the time of the Pharaohs), the ancient (Marcus Didius Falco of the Roman Empire) to more recent (Brother Cadfael of the 12th century, Matthew Shardlake of Tudor times) and quite recent (Sergeant Cribb of Victorian times and Erast Fandorin of late Tsarist Russia).
Van Gulick’s Judge Dee series has been widely acclaimed (and is my favorite) as being one of the best historical detectives.
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