Late summer and autumn 2021 will see a bumper crop of fiction of interest to "Nineteenists." Herewith, a preview of some of the 19th-century-related novels to come.

Like 2019’s The Lady and the Highwayman and 2020’s The Gentleman and the Thief, Sarah M. Eden’s amusing The Merchant and the Rogue incorporates the history of Victorian popular fiction into a lighthearted romance. As a former pseudonymous romance writer (quite old, though not actually Victorian) myself, I love the series’ secret society of “penny dreadful” writers. Eden’s obvious affection for 19th-century “pulps” and her deft incorporation of them into her plots makes the books really fun; The Merchant and the Rogue’s pairing of an Irish penny dreadful writer and a bookseller with Russian roots adds another interesting element to its enjoyable mix. (Shadow Mountain, 8/17/21)

Alyssa Maxwell delivers her signature blend of clever plotting, convincing characters, and fascinating Newport history in her ninth Gilded Newport mystery, Murder at Wakehurst. This installment of the story of Emma Cross finds the journalist mourning the death of her uncle Cornelius Vanderbilt. Family obligations—Vanderbilt’s unpredictable son “Niely” needs some extra oversight—and the demands of Newport’s social life impel her to attend a lavish Elizabethan fete hosted on the grounds of Wakehurst, a palatial Newport mansion. The fete’s mock swordplay, joust and archery demonstrations take a grim turn when a prominent judge is found dead with an arrow through his chest. Fans can look forward to another of Maxwell's well-crafted mysteries along with a nuanced portrait of the people and places of an iconic New England location. (Kensington, 8/31/21)

Sherlockians will rejoice to know that the grand master of Sherlock Holmes spinoffs has written a delightful new “reminiscence” by John H. Watson, M.D. in The Return of the Pharaoh, which appears this fall. I have a deep personal affection for Nicholas Meyer's Watson novels: I still remember how much I loved Meyer’s The Seven-Per-Cent Solution in 1974, and also how intrigued I was by my introduction to the idea that a contemporary author could extend an earlier author’s work. Meyer is in fine form with his fourth Holmes novel, which reunites Holmes and Watson in Egypt, where an aristocratic Egyptologist has disappeared. The world of famous archeologist Howard Carter and his peers, as well as that of Holmes and Watson, are both done full justice in Meyer’s engaging novel. (Minotaur, 11/9/21)

Having thoroughly enjoyed Karen Odden's A Trace of Deceit and its predecessor A Dangerous Duel, I'm looking forward to the debut of her new mystery series this November. Set again in Odden's beloved 1870s, Down a Dark River introduces Inspector Michael Corravan, whose background includes stints as a dockworker and a bare-knuckle fighter. Corravan's attempts to untangle the motives and murderer behind a succession of female corpses that turn up in small boats on the Thames showcase Odden's gifts for period research, convincing characterizations and atmospheric place evocation. Lovers of Victorian London and fans of C.S. Harris, Charles Finch, and Anne Perry among others will relish Down a Dark River. (Crooked Lane, 11/9/16).

Previously published in Australia, Tea Cooper’s absorbing The Cartographer’s Secret will be available stateside this autumn. Cooper's novel is inspired in part by the 1848 disappearance of German naturalist Ludwig Leichhardt while exploring southwestern Australia, a historical mystery that has never been solved despite investigations both governmental and private. The plot turns on two fictional characters: Evie Ludgrove, who vanishes in 1880 while attempting to discover Leichhardt’s fate, and her niece Letitia Rawlings, who in 1911 comes across a meticulously illustrated map she surmises might hold a clue to her Ludgrove’s disappearance. Cooper writes often and beautifully about the Hunter Valley in New South Wales, and The Cartographer’s Secret is no exception; the emotional landscape of the women’s family just as elegantly charted. The Cartographer’s Secret will have special appeal for fans of Kate Morton and Sarah McCoy as well as lovers of dual-era novels generally. (Harper Muse, 11/16/21)