Historical Short Stories With Mystery and Alternate History

These short stories are set during or around a particular historical event, or a recognizable time period. There are separate sections for mysteries, alternate histories and general stories. See also:

• Historical Mysteries •

“Timor Mortis” by Annette Meyers

Olivia is a poet in Greenwich Village working on getting her first book published. She sometimes helps Harry Melville, a private investigator, with cases. One day, Harry takes her to see a client, Amy Lowell, a successful poet who had been critical of Olivia, personally and professionally. Fania, a woman with an extreme fear of death, is missing. The family tries to watch over her, but she’s erratic. Her behavior is embarrassing.

This story can be read in the preview of The Mammoth Book Roaring Twenties Whodunnits(13% in)

“Brave New Murder” by H. R. F. Keating

At the first Eton and Harrow match after the Great War, there was a murder. This fact wasn’t known to the nine or ten thousand English notables who attended until a few days later. At the time, the members were more concerned with other upsetting things, such as a woman’s stockinged calf.

This story can also also be read in the above preview of The Mammoth Book of Roaring Twenties Whodunnits. (62% in)

“The Sound of Secrecy” by Martin Edwards

Wilf sees Lina at the funeral of their old friend, Edward. He can recognize her even after all these years. Lina drove Edward to murder. Wilf thinks back to when they were all together at Bletchley Park, a code-breaking facility used during WWII.

This story can be read in the preview of The Book of Extraordinary Historical Mystery Stories(17% in)

“His Master’s Servant” by Philip Boast

Sir Roger, a Christian knight, prays at the Templar fortress in the Holy Land. His servant calls him for an urgent meeting. The men are all asleep and it’s very quiet. Sir Roger goes to Gondemar’s quarters and is led into the sanctum; Gondemar has ensured secrecy. Sir Roger is shocked to see the King, and even more shocked to see the other guest.

Most of this story can be read in the preview of The Mammoth Book of Historical Whodunnits Volume 3.

“Murder at the Metropole” by Robert J. Randisi

Detective Val O’Farrell is at the Hotel Metropolis in Times Square. A body is on the front steps. He’s joined by Sgt. McKeever. The deceased is a man they both recognize—Herman Rosenthal, who ran an illegal casino. They know who the press is going to blame for this. O’Farrell has to find out if it’s true.

This story can be read in the preview of Crime Square(17% in)

“Crucifixion Variations” by Lawrence Person

Richard Lasman is in charge of The Jerusalem Project, a multi-year, multi-million dollar search through sub-quark event waves for Jesus. He’s an atheist, while the head researcher, Philip Morley, is deeply religious, having experienced a vision that cured his alcoholism. One day, Philip joyfully bursts into Richard’s office—he’s found Jesus.

This story can be read in the preview of The Mammoth Book of Extreme Science Fiction(62% in)

• Alternate Histories •

“Les Meduses” by Stacy Ericson

The Queen of England is waiting to die, as the Executioner and his daughter, Pierette, were delayed on their way. The Executioner’s job alienates him and his family from everyone else. Pierette had a plan of changing her life that day and escaping the stigma around her. Rumors reached Calais about a Black Pirate Armada.

This story can be read in the preview of Alt. History 101(25% in)

“The Most Beautiful Woman” by Jennifer Ellis

Hedy Lamarr, the famous Hollywood actress, invented a guidance system for torpedoes, along with her ex-husband. She wanted to develop it for the war effort, but was told she should use her celebrity to sell war bonds instead. She has done this, but now she has a meeting with Commodore McCandless about doing more.

This story can be read in the preview of Alt. History 102(25% in)

The Wild Cards Series

The Wild Cards universe is populated with Aces and Jokers—people endowed with superhuman powers and those with bizarre conditions. In an alternate history after WWII, an alien virus hit the Earth, mutating those exposed to it. Some use their abilities for good, some for evil and some blur the lines. There are some short story anthologies in this series, such as Wild Cards I: Expanded Editionand Wild Cards II: Aces High.

“Hands Off” by Edward Everett Hale

The narrator exists outside the limits of space and time. While watching one of Earth’s epochs, he observed an injustice. Before he could help, his mentor forbade him from interfering. He took the narrator to another system where he could see the results of helping.

• Historical •

“Suzanne Valadon: A Woman Who Dared” by Caddy Rowland

Suzanne is an artist’s model, which is the main role women play in the world of painting. She has higher aspirations, and has used her connections to learn to paint, as well.

This story can be read in the preview of Stories on the Go: 101 Very Short Stories by 101 Authors(25% in)

“John Martin’s Universe” by Bill Adler

Early one morning, John Martin was shot by a mugger while walking home from a donut shop. He was fine, but the bullet hit and shattered his watch, which brought an end to the universe. He had protected many important timepieces through the years.

This story can be read in the preview of A Sci-Fi Shorts Anthology: Vol 1. (46% in)

“The Fall River Axe Murders (Mise-en Scène for a Parricide)” by Angela Carter

The Bordens are a prosperous family who live in a small, comfortless house. Mr. Borden is a miser. Mrs. Borden is a joyless glutton. The weather is intolerably hot. Lizzie Borden murders her parents one morning.

Read “The Fall River Axe Murders”