Black As She’s Painted by William Savage #FridayReads #BookReview

An Ashmole Foxe Georgian Mystery

Black as she is

This is the fifth Ashmole Foxe Georgian mystery but only the second I have read.  William Savage is the authentic voice of Georgian Norfolk and the reader soon feels quite at home wandering the streets of Norwich with the finely dressed, eccentric, Ashmole Foxe. My personal fondness is for Dr Adam Bascom from Mr Savage’s other series, but I am beginning to warm to the wealthy, intelligent Mr Foxe. Although a womaniser who loves the best clothes and hates bad weather, he has a need to be busy and is well respected by the community for his ability to investigate crimes and bring the culprits to justice.

The story commences with a hideous murder, shortly after the mysterious departure of the victim’s husband, goldsmith and banker, Samuel Melanus.  The Mayor and important businessmen wish Foxe to discover the whereabouts of Melanus before rumour causes a run on the bank.  Aided by the group of street children who consider Foxe to be their friend, he is able to shadow the activities of the criminal underworld and find the connection between the murder and the strange behaviour of the goldsmith.

As usual, this is a slow process, intermixed with Foxe’s relationships with his friends, including Mistress Tabby, the Cunning Woman, and Captain Brock, newly returned from his honeymoon in Europe. A dalliance with Maria, a personal maid to the murder victim, is followed by an interesting new friendship with the intriguing Lady Cockerham. It was difficult to leave this intriguing, slower paced world and I am tempted to read earlier adventures in the life of Ashmole Foxe.

Black As She is Painted can be found on Amazon UK

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The Music of the Spheres by Elizabeth Redfern #TuesdayBookBlog #BookReview

Music of the Spheres

Book Blurb

London, the summer of 1795: a season of revolutionary fervour, scientific discovery and vicious murders. The British government is in disarray, unable to stem the flood of secrets to Paris; betrayals that doom her war efforts to failure. In rural Kensington a group of French emigr-s are pursuing a scientific dream, the discovery of a planet they call Selene. The group has fallen under the spell of a beautiful and amoral woman – Auguste de Montpellier who is at once their muse and dark angel. Meanwhile a killer lurks in the back streets of the capital: the victims are all prostitutes and have been paid in French Louis d’Or, the currency of France’s spies. Jonathan Absey is a Home Office clerk whose official task is to smash the French spy ring. Privately however, he has become obsessed with the murders. These interests intersect when he finds himself drawn into the Montpellier circle, yet his pursuit for truth remains obscured through coded letters, opium and conspiracy. Absey must uncover the mystery before the summer dies; an invasion fleet is being prepared to set sail across the channel and the lives of those on board now rest on his discoveries.

My Review

The end of the 18th century is a fascinating era, when French spies mixed with the aristocratic emigres in London, who had fled to save their heads. The city was a dangerous place for the underclass and Jonathan Absey becomes obsessed with solving the murders of several prostitutes because he believes his daughter was the first victim.

Suspicion falls upon the household of Auguste de Montpellier and her sick brother Guy. Aided by Doctor Raultier, Guy fights his illness to prove the existence of a new planet which he calls Selene, which he believes must exist after the discovery of Uranus by Herschel in 1781. Jonathan persuades his half-brother Alexander Wilmot, a gifted musician and amateur astronomer to make contact with the Montpelliers so that he can discover their secrets, but Alexander is unwilling to betray his new friends and walks into a perilous situation.

There is a gothic quality to this novel, several characters implying languorous evil and sexual deviance.  The historical content is sound, and the suspense increases with each new murder, but only Alexander earns our empathy and for this reason was the only character I could believe in.  Choose this novel for revelations about post-revolutionary Europe and an insight into scientific interests at that time but do not expect to become emotionally involved with people you meet within its pages.

The Music of the Spheres can be purchased on Amazon UK

E Redfern

Elizabeth Redfern

Elizabeth Redfern was born on October 29, 1950 in Cheshire, England and attended the University of Nottingham, where she earned a BA in English. She then earned a post graduate degree as a Chartered Librarian at Ealing College and a post-graduate certificate in teaching at the University of Derby.

Redfern trained and worked as a chartered librarian, first in London and then in Nottingham. She moved to Derbyshire with her husband, a solicitor. And after her daughter was born, Redfern re-trained as a teacher and began work as an adult education lecturer – main subject, English – with the Derbyshire County Council.

Since then, she’s been involved in various projects in nearby towns, including working with the unemployed and skills training in the workplace. She lives with her husband and her daughter, who attends a local school, in a village in the Derbyshire Peak District. In her spare time Redfern plays the violin with a local orchestra, the Chesterfield Symphony Orchestra.

 

 

 

A Tincture of Secrets and Lies by William Savage #TuesdayBookBlog #RBRT

Tincture

 

The fourth book of investigations by Dr Adam Bascom begins dramatically when he falls from his horse one dark evening, near to the site of a young woman’s murder.  Finding himself incapacitated, Adam seeks the help of young Charles Scudamore, nephew of the entrancing Lady Alice Fouchard, to follow leads in this investigation as well as suspicions of a plot for rebellion.

 

It is a pleasure to meet again the incorrigible apothecary, Peter Lassimer as well as Adam’s reliable staff, housekeeper Mrs Brigstone, nervous Hannah, the parlour maid and faithful groom, William.  But new characters are also introduced, including the warm hearted young widow, Mrs Munnings and the strange Dr Panacea, who offers a cure-all medicine after a compelling speech to the crowd.

 

As in the previous books we learn much of Norfolk life in the years following the French Revolution, of the widespread hardship of the poor and the anxiety of those in power about the possibility of invasion or disorder.  Adam goes through a period of depression, trapped in his house and convinced that he will soon lose touch with Lady Alice, but he concentrates his mind on solving crimes and his bravery and moral conviction command loyalty from his friends.

 

Another enjoyable return to the past, written in the style of the time, with an intriguing storyline.

 

A Tincture of Secrets and Lies can be purchased at Amazon UK

To read more about William Savage and his books please look here

I reviewed this book as a member of Rosie Amber’s Bookreview Team.

Rosie's Book Review team 1

A Shortcut to Murder by William Savage #bookreview

shortcut

This was my third foray into the world of young Doctor Adam Bascom and I feel quite at home now in rural, Georgian Norfolk. Although suitable to read as a stand-alone novel, loyal followers of his earlier adventures will understand the distress he is causing to his erstwhile admirer, Sophia LaSalle, by constantly visiting the charming widow, Lady Alice.

Once again Adam must solve a challenging murder mystery, but on this occasion, he precipitates action in order to flush out the culprit. He is maturing in skill and confidence. If only he could understand women and his own feelings, his life might be less complicated!

We meet some new characters in this book, the highlight being newly qualified lawyer, Charles Scudamore, who could easily be given his own novel. Exuberant but sometimes lacking direction, he and his twin sister, Ruth, are severely reprimanded by their aunt, Lady Alice, even though she is only a few years older than they are.

The victim is thoroughly unpleasant landowner, Sir Jackman Wennard, who may have died by accident after falling from his horse, but Adam’s brother Giles, the local Magistrate, suspects foul play. Adam’s investigations are hindered by lack of cooperation from Sir Jackman’s son, Robert and the case is further complicated by the arrival of Sir Jackman’s first wife, Sarah.

At times, Adam’s deliberations are rather long-winded but it is a complex plot which requires explanation. There is certainly plenty of action and emotional outbursts and the late autumn context allows for portentous description such as, “The air had been full of the smell of decay and the decline of another year.”
Another enjoyable read about a very likeable hero.

You can find A Shortcut to Murder here

William Savage

william-s

William started to write fiction as a way of keeping his mind active in retirement. He had always lectured and written extensively on business topics, including three books, many articles and a successful leadership blog which garnered more than 5000 regular followers. He has no intention of letting his mind stagnate or his creativity wither. This means finding new sources of interest and inspiration.

Throughout his life, William has read and enjoyed hundreds of detective stories and mystery novels. One of his other loves is history, especially the local history of the many places where he has lived. It seemed natural to put the two together. Thus began two series of murder mystery books set in Norfolk. Four books have appeared so far and he is currently at work on a fifth.

William’s books are set between 1760 and around 1800. This was a period of turmoil in Britain, with constant wars, the revolutions in America and France and finally the titanic, 22-year struggle with Napoleon. The Ashmole Foxe series takes place at the start of this time and is located in Norwich. Mr Foxe is a dandy, a bookseller and, unknown to most around him, the mayor’s immediate choice to deal with anything likely to upset the peace or economic security of the city. The series featuring Dr Adam Bascom, a young gentleman-physician caught up in the beginning of the Napoleonic wars, takes place in a variety of locations nearer to the North Norfolk coast. Adam tries to build a successful medical practice, but his insatiable curiosity and a knack for unravelling intrigue constantly involve him in mysteries large and small.

William has spent a good deal of his life travelling in Britain and overseas. After obtaining his degree at Cambridge, he set out on a business career, during which he lived in most parts of the UK, as well as spending eleven years in the USA. He has been a senior executive, an academic and a consultant to many multinational companies. Now he is more than content to write stories and he has a superb blog, devoted to the world of Georgian England, which you can find at http://www.penandpension.com.

Rosie's Book Review team 1

An Unlamented Death by William Savage

Unlamented Death

Entering into An Unlamented Death is like stepping into an 18th century drawing room.  The environment is civilised and calm and its hero Adam Bascom uses his intelligence and deductive powers to solve the mystery of, “An Inconvenient Corpse.”  A young, country doctor, Adam is establishing himself as a respectable and trustworthy member of the community in Aylsham, Norfolk.  As he travels the county visiting patients and family, he soon makes some good friends.

But one day, he is shocked to discover the body of a clergyman lying in a churchyard in suspicious circumstances.  Strangely, at the inquest, the authorities seem anxious to stress that it was a case of accidental death.  Adam cannot understand why the victim, Dr. Nathaniel Ross, Archdeacon of Norwich, was so far from home.  Rumours circulate of smugglers in the area and Adam is warned not to pursue his enquiries.

The delight of this book is the characterisation.  Sober Adam is contrasted with his erstwhile friend, apothecary Peter Lassimer, a womaniser and gossip.  When Adam visits his sociable mother, she introduces him to her elegant, blue-stocking companion, Sophia LaSalle.  Meanwhile on his travels, Adam has struck up a friendship with Captain George Mimms, a retired seafarer who keeps his ear to the ground and aids Adam with his investigation.

Though slow in pace, the novel is lightened by the author’s sense of humour.  When Adam is called to his mother’s parlour to meet her female friends he feels like, “one of the early Christian martyrs being summoned to face the lions in the arena.”  The historical details of the story are impeccable and we learn much of the concerns in coastal areas about the French, following the Revolution and leading up to the Napoleonic war.  At times the social history can be too lengthy such as the theatrical interlude in the Feathers Inn Yard, when I was anxious to discover the next event.

It is possible that some readers might find the authentic eighteenth century style of reading difficult to attune too, but I found it a pleasure.  I could imagine myself walking in the country towns of Norfolk alongside the inquisitive doctor.  Adam Bascom is a likeable detective, even if you sometimes feel you want to shake him, and I look forward to reading about his next adventure in The Code for Killing.

Rosie's Book Review team 1