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By R.T. Lawton

May, 2011

Kindle eBook: ($2.99)

Reviewed by Cherie Jung

When a writer friend of mine asked if I wanted to read a collection of short stories by a writer friend of his, I said, "sure." Had my friend told me it was a collection of historical mysteries, I would have said, "No, thank you, I hate historical mysteries!" Yet when the ebook arrived in my inbox, I felt obligated to at least read one story. To my surprise, one story lead me to the next and then another and another and before I even realized it, I had finished the book and was making a note to myself to get copies of the author's other collections. I had proved to myself, again, my belief that a good story is a good story, no matter who writes it.

Most of the stories in this collection were previously published in Alfred Hitchcock Mystery Magazine. (That should have been a clue that I might like the stories...but the title 9 HISTORICAL MYSTERIES made me panic.) The first five stories feature "the Armenian," a trader who makes a living selling his goods to the Chechen Hill tribesmen in the Wild Country and the Cossacks on the other side of the Terek river. His life is frequently in peril and he is forced to use his wits to solve crimes when the two cultures clash. The remainig four stories are set in the criminal underworld of 1660s Paris, featuring a young scoundrel as he struggles to survive.

The author is a consummate storyteller, such as one might imagine encountering in bygone days, spinning tales while eager listeners gathered 'round, warmed by a blazing fire. The tales unfold in an unhurried pace, allowing the reader to fully experience the pleasure of a well-told tale. I think these stories will appeal to a wide range of readers, including those who think they hate historical mysteries.

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