Checking in with my followers


It has been a while since I posted, mainly because I am up to my eyeballs in reworking the first draft of my book, The Last Pilgrim. The rewrite of a historical novel has proved different and rather difficult and quite a learning experience.

 First, I am looking up the etymology of many of the words I have used. Were they in common use in the 17th century? Scramble is a good example:

From: – an invaluable source

“1580s (intransitive), perhaps a nasalized variant of scrabble (v.), in its sense of “to struggle, to scrape quickly.” Transitive sense “to stir or toss together randomly” is from 1822. Broadcasting sense “to make unintelligible” is attested from 1927. Related: Scrambled; scrambling. Scrambled eggs first recorded 1843.”

So I was okay using this word but not with the meaning I intended for that time.

Second, checking and rechecking dates.

I just discovered I had Isaac Allerton, Mary’s father, marrying two years later than I thought. I had to do some rearrangement within several chapters.

I have gotten some birth/death dates wrong as well.

Third, finding where I slipped into passive voice.  A biggie!

 Fourth, changing scenes from indirect to direct to make the telling of the history more interesting and interjecting emotion. The Pilgrims were not unemotional automatons!


And so it goes. I’m trying to get back to book reviews I owe everyone, but it’s hard because my head is in the 16th century and there I use no contractions and the language is somewhat stiff.

Hubs and I are returning to Plymouth in August to celebrate our anniversary, but actually for me to do more research and get further impressions.

I discovered why the original grave marker for Thomas Cushman, Mary’s husband, is no longer on Burial Hill. They took the marker away – such a shame – and replaced it with the huge monument to the Cushmans, where Mary receives a small citation. Since she was buried next to her husband, her bones must lie under that monument, too.

Please forgive my absence in reading your posts – I try to get to some each day. Whatever will I do when I am finished with this? I hope I have not lost all my blogging buddies along the way…


Pollen Tornadoes


As predicted, all of our trees leafed this past weekend, releasing clouds of pollen. Our driveway is mustard colored, our cars are coated, and yesterday driving along the interstate, the air was yellow and you could see billows of the yellow stuff when trucks drove through it.

Rather than taking such ugly pictures, I chose to take photos of some of our blooms. Tulips do not grow well in our soil, but I found one, sad lone tulip that braved the conditions to sprout in my garden.

The azaleas are out and we have one kind that has large pale lilac-colored blossoms with the most amazing delicate spots!

And then there is our Japanese cherry tree. Each year it sports delicate clusters of pink flowers, along with a slightly sour smell. This year is no exception.

The temperatures here have gotten to the 70s, the pool hit 65 on Sunday – so naturally I went in – and now it’s a balmy 70 so I can swim!

What’s So Great About Vampires: War of Nytefall: Rivalry – A New Novel from Charles Yallowitz:


My fellow blogger, Charles Yallowitz, has come up with another of his great (and occasionally funny) lists, this time about vampires – to which he is clearly addicted! – to promo his new book. Read on, my friends:

A big thanks to Noelle for helping to promote my newest book, War of Nytefall: Rivalry. This is my third book that revolves around the Vampire Civil War of Windemere, which is the same magical world that was home to Legends of Windemere. Yeah, I guess that’s kind of obvious considering the title.  Now, I’ve been asked a few times, usually on days ending in ‘Y’, about why I decided to go for vampires.  They’ve been done a lot over the decades.  Well, my first response is because they were the next project in my mental queue and I’ve been dying to write stories with the Dawn Fangs as the focal points.  My second response comes after some thought because vampires seem to always have a toehold on popularity.  Even when they’ve been overdone, you still see people swarming to new versions.  So, what is it about these monsters that has kept them around for so long?

  1. They’re immortal. Seriously, they live forever, which is kind of an obsession with mankind.  Most of us are scared of death to some extent, so there we could look at these immortal monsters as a fictional vehicle to avoid this fear.  It could also go the other way where we see how lonely and sad vampires are, so we see that mortality might have some advantages.

  2. Due to vampires looking human, audiences can connect to them. People tend to relate to other people or humanized things in fiction. A movie that has a dog as a main character may give them a voice the audience can hear or show a wide range of emotions through physical gestures. This creates a bridge, which vampires always have because they usually look perfectly human.  Them being pale, having fangs, having powers, or acting strange doesn’t take away from their human look. Only thing that does that is the classic widow’s peak haircut.

  3. Vampires can be reimagined to various settings. While werewolves require a lunar cycle, vampires don’t have that level of limitation. Even that isn’t consistent since it was originally being weakened by the sun and other versions are fine during the day.  You can put vampires in fantasy, science fiction, drama, horror, westerns, and any other genre with some tweaks to the formula.  Yes, you will have people complaining that it isn’t ‘their vampires’.  Yet, there’s a long history of alterations that supports doing just about anything with them.

  4. Characters can have sex with vampires and not be considered a necrophiliac. I don’t know if this is a reason for them still being popular.  It’s just something that I can’t wrap my head around when I think about it.

  5. The power! The sheer, brutal, savage power!  Audiences just love vampires for their strength and abilities.  Some want to possess it because the idea of turning into a bat or bending metal bars is fun.  Others love to see weak mortals overcome something so terrifyingly strong.  You can even have hierarchies of power within vampire societies, so you can get an underdog from their own ranks.  It also demonstrates that a weaker being can become stronger over time, which can be fairly inspiring.

  6. Vampires are as versatile as mortals when it comes to character roles. They can be the monster hunting down the heroes or the cunning villain planning world domination.  They can be the noble hero who is fighting against his darker nature or the brutal anti-hero that seeks his own type of justice.  Romantic partners, jealous stalkers, loyal allies, devious traitors, and the list keeps on going.  This ties back into them looking and acting human.  It means they can hold the same roles as humans as long as they are established within a world that allows for their existence.

  7. Because they’re fun and, most times, are treated with respect. It isn’t easy reinventing the wheel that is vampire stories.  Every creator has to put their own twist on the mythos in order to avoid being called a copycat.  This can be the vampires themselves, the world they’re in, or the society they’ve made.  The previously mentioned versatility of vampires makes this both easy and difficult.  You can really do anything with them, but you also need to work hard to make it fit.  Don’t just say something is a vampire because it has fangs and that’s it.  You need to have the creatures earn the title right from the beginning, which requires respect.  Doing this successfully for any level of audience helps the popularity of vampires continue.

  8. Seriously, that necrophilia thing is creepy.

Hope you enjoyed my off the cuff list.  The topic was actually a lot harder than I imagined it would be.  Check out my own take on vampires in War of Nytefall: Rivalry.  Thanks for reading and see you in the comments.

About the Author:

Charles E. Yallowitz was born, raised, and educated in New York. Then he spent a few years in Florida, realized his fear of alligators, and moved back to the Empire State. When he isn’t working hard on his epic fantasy stories, Charles can be found cooking or going on whatever adventure his son has planned for the day. Truthfully, his tales of adventure are much more interesting than his real life, so skip the bio and dive into the action

You can find Charles at:

Twitter: @cyallowitz

Good luck, Charles, with the new book! Bring on the reviews, folks!

Introducing a new book by Julie Haiselden: Reasonable Doubt?


One rural village; so many secrets…

Blenthorne nestles in a quiet corner of Cumbria and is home to local entrepreneur, Lizzie Lockwood. Lizzie has returned to the home she loves after an unpleasant hiatus.  She is determined to put the past behind her as she concentrates on her thriving business interests and a fledgling relationship.

Her happy bubble is soon burst by the arrival of tainted newcomer, Helen Anderson who is intent on inveigling herself into Lizzie’s life.  Hot on her heels is investigative journalist, Percival Lynton Whitaker.  As he garners gossip for his impending ‘Reasonable Doubt?’ exposé on Helen, a chance encounter takes him back to a macabre event from yesteryear. Has he inadvertently stumbled across someone who was implicated in a notorious unsolved multiple murder?

Lizzie is far from pleased that the journalist’s focus appears to have shifted.  As events play out, she starts to wonder how well she knows her community.  Maybe Helen is the least of her worries?  Is it possible that among her friends or neighbors lurks a murderer?  For all its tranquil appearance, is Blenthorne harboring a child-killer?

About the author:

Julie Haiseldelen’s debut novel, Long Shadows, was published in 2015. Reasonable Doubt? is her  second offering, a Victorian thriller, and Evil Echoes her third, a contemporary sequel to Long Shadows, will be published soon. Although all three books are stand alone, so you won’t miss anything by picking up one of them.

In her past life, the author tread the boards and shouted the odd stage direction.  Currently, she works as a church verger and when not writing, reviewing or blogging, gives talks to local groups and is a volunteer room guide for the National Trust.  This energetic author is blessed with a marvellous home life as a wife, mother and grandmother.

You can find Julie Haiselden at:

Her website

On twitter –

On Facebook –

And on Goodreads –

Amazon Link to her book:

Amazon UK –

There’s no reasonable doubt! Give this mystery author a read and review! All we authors are indebted for your interest!




My Hysterical Novel – A Work in Progress


First I want to offer a heartfelt thanks each and every one of you who chose to follow my blog in the past several months. I wish I had time to recognize you individually, but time does not permit – especially now that I am seeing the light at the end of the tunnel with regard to the first draft of the book I am currently writing.

Many of you know this is a historical novel (Hubs likes to call the hysterical novel, due to my sometimes frantic research) about the longest-living passenger of the Mayflower, Mary Allerton Cushman. I’m fully immersed in the life of the time and could never have foreseen how much research the book would require. Every day I am off chasing threads and trying to verify events and people’s vital statistics. It’s been Mr. Toad’s Wild Ride.

Mary Cushman lived to be 83 years old and died in 1699, remarkable for a woman of that era but not for those Separatists who survived the first winter. Many of these Old Comers, as they were called, lived unusually long lives for the time. Governor William Bradford noted this in his book Of Plymouth Plantation and commented that perhaps it was their healthy, active life with good food (after the first years) that gave them long life.

I thought I might provide you with a little clip from Chapter 16, so you could see how the story is coming.  Remember this snippet is but a rough draft.

Background: The year is 1624, so the colony has been in existence for roughly four years. Mary is eight years old and has been living with her older brother, sister, and her widowed father in a one room, rough house on Plymouth’s main street, across the road from William Bradford and his second wife Alice. She has been without a mother since the age of four, and her father decided to ask the Bradfords if they would accept her into their household (something that was often done with young boys) to bring her up in a respectful and godly manner. In this chapter, her father has just left her with Alice Bradford.


I remember the look on Mistress Bradford’s face as I wiped my mouth on my sleeve after finishing the goat’s milk. I couldn’t decide if it was one of humor or horror.

“Well, well,” she said. “I can see we first need to teach you manners. Do you see the cloth on the table in front of you?”

“Yes, mistress.”

 “It’s called a napkin and you are to put it over your left shoulder and use it to wipe your hands and your mouth whilst you are eating and when you have finished.” To emphasize that, she got up, place the napkin on my shoulder, then had me remove it and wipe my mouth. “There, a first lesson.” She sat down again. “Come here, girl, and let me look more closely at you.”

 I did as she asked, standing nervously in front of her, shifting from one foot to the other.

She gave a soft cluck. “Tsk, tsk. Your clothes need some work.”

I was immediately conscious of my dress. It was an old one of Remember’s, in a coarse brown wool and oft mended. It was too short, because I can recall seeing my brown feet clearly sticking out from under it. My bidden was already hanging down my back, and my hair, which was in tangled curls, hung free.

Goodwife Bradford shook her head. “Let me see your hands.”

I stuck out my hands and for the first time noticed how dirty they had become, with soot under the nails, and long scratches from the chickens.

Mistress Bradford rose and taking me by the hand, led me outside to a water bucket, which had a washing cloth hanging on it. There she proceeded to do a more thorough washing of me than had Remember, who had just wiped off my face. While she did that, I took notice of her for the first time.

Although I was to know her for a long time, my first impression of the governor’s wife was one of substance. She had a pleasant, round face with dark hair tucked neatly under her linen coif. Her dark eyes regarded everything around her seriously, but she smiled as she cleaned me, even to my feet. She was dressed better than most of the women in the village – in a fairly clean linen smock, which showed beneath her waistcoat of blue wool, and a skirt of brown, with a soiled linen apron that hung to the bottom of her skirt. A linen collar was around her neck. There were none of the mending marks most of our clothing bore, nor the wear at the cuffs and hem.

“There,” she said when she finished. “We need to do something with your hair and you are more than ready for a proper coif.” She led me back inside and to the corner of the room where there was a bed, two chests, a bedside chair and some candlesticks that shone with polish. I thought at the time the Bradfords must be rich.

Mistress Bradford had a brush and sitting the chair, placed me in front of her facing away and tackled my tangles with energy. It proved to be a laborious task and eventually she took scissors to some of the most formidable mats. Then she used a fine comb to comb the lice from my hair. “Finally. You look quite presentable, Mary.”

I felt my head and indeed my hair felt smooth and tangle free. I hoped the constant itching from the lice would go away.

 “Now let’s see if we can find you some proper clothes. I have but two sons, so I will see if something of mine can be reduced to fit, or we can make new.” Lifting the lid on one chest, she pulled out clothes and laid them on the bed. Among them was a skirt in a dark green wool, and a bodice in brown. “There. This will do, but it will require much alteration.”

I was awed by the thought of a new dress, especially one of this color.

“Have you a smock beneath your dress, Mary?”

I shook my head no.

“That will never do. You cannot go without an undergarment.” She shook her head again in amazement at my lightly-clothed self and brought forth from the chest a length of linen, which I am sure she had brought to make articles of clothing for herself and her husband. I suspected I would soon have a smock. Remember had one that was our mother’s and had hemmed up a great length of it and wore it with the sleeves hanging long.

Over the next several weeks, Mistress Bradford measured, cut and sewed until I was appropriately clothed. I sat with her outside the house while she sewed, and she showed me how to make different stiches on a small piece of cloth. My stiches were at first ungainly and crooked, but her patience never faltered as she had me take them out and do them again. By the time my shift, bodice and skirt were finished, she had me hem my apron and pronounced my work acceptable. She introduced me to the stays I would have to wear over my shift. This was an article of clothing I had seen on my mother but had never worn.

“Why do I have to wear this?” I asked Mistress Bradford. “They look binding and uncomfortable.”

“They are, child, and to say truth, I oft do not wear mine.”

I examined what she laid before me and I saw the piece was stiff with rows of stitching, no sleeves and fitting over the shoulders. “What does this do?”

“It supports and shapes your body, to help you fit your clothes. Sometimes there are reeds sown into the cloth stiffness and some have a flat piece of wood we call a busk in the center front. Most uncomfortable. We will make you one, and I will tell you how to wear it.”

I hated the stays, and as oft as not, did not wear them. There were still petticoats to add to my clothing, but for the first time in two years I had stockings and soft leather shoes that fit. Governor Bradford got me the shoes.

There was much to learn in the Bradford house and my days were filled with so many chores I scarce had time to play. Alice Bradford seemed to enjoy teaching me how to do my chores properly, saying she had never had a daughter. She did not spare the rod when I transgressed, but she laughed more oft than naught at my missteps.


I hope you liked this and perhaps be interested in reading the book when I am done!

Garfield is working away on another post, which he hopes to have done soon, so stay tuned.

Happy St. Patrick’s Day!



This is a post I scheduled back in 2013 that I wanted to share again.

An Irish Blessing

(A Blessing from St. Patrick)
May the road rise to meet you,
May the wind be always at your back,
May the sun shine warm upon your face,
May the rains fall soft upon your fields,
And, until we meet again,
May God hold you in the hollow of His hand
(Traditional Irish Blessing; origin unknown, although some attribute it to Saint Patrick.)

Source: Insights Plaques: Irish Blessing

Blessings of the day to you and wishing you good luck always!



Here is an interesting story about the origins of corned beef and cabbage that my friend, Steve, sent.

The Story of Corned Beef – By AOH National Historian Mike McCormack

With the recent St. Patrick’s festivities behind us, I can’t count the number of times I was told Corned Beef…

View original post 964 more words

When was the last time you visited a real old fashioned soda fountain?


One of the members of my Early Birds critique group (we got our name because we used to meet very early in the morning, but now meet at a more civilized hour of 9:30) wrote a story about her adventures working in the soda fountain of one of the two pharmacies in Cary, NC, when she was a teenager.

The owner of the pharmacy, Ashworth’s, is still alive and running the store and never fired any of his teenage hires, even though, as Elizabeth tells it, he had plenty of reason to do so. She also told us the pharmacy hasn’t changed much at all over the years, especially the soda fountain.

We were so taken with the story that we decided to have our next meeting there, which we did last week. We occupied a booth for two hours, with coffee flowing, then had lunch – I had a 9″ beef hotdog with all the timmings for $1.95 (!) and it was delicious. Coupled it with an orangeade made with fresh orange juice. Others had milkshakes (milk and real ice cream) and BLT, egg salad and chicke salad sandwiches – I don’t think any of us spent more than $5 for our lunches.

Great food. Elizabeth says the soda fountain hasn’t changed from the 1970’s, so here’s a couple of pictures.Don’t you just love the green vinyl seats?

After it’s published, I hope to put part of Elizabeth’s story up, with her permission.




Book Review: Lord Edward’s Archer by Griff Hossker (@HoskerGriff) #RBRT #medieval adventure


Author Griff Hossker has written 116 books, all centered on warfare, many in the Middle Ages with knights, Vikings, swordsmen, and Saxons, but some set in WWI and WWII. He’s a very popular author, so I decided to read this book, which I purchased for review.

The story is set in the 13th century in Wales, France and England. The main character is a young man named Gruffyd, who has been trained by his father, a famous archer, to follow in his footsteps. His father is retired from his life as a hired soldier and ekes out a meager living, enough to support him and his son. At seventeen, Gruffyd is already a strong, smart and able bowman and is hired by the lord of a nearby castle. The lord is a base and cowardly man, and when the nobleman commits a devastating deed affecting Gruffyd, the young man makes a life-altering decision. For a while he lives as an outlaw living wild in the woods while seeking a passage to France. There are a considerable number of obstacles in his journey but when he reaches France, he is hired as an archer by Lord Edward, heir to the throne of England. Edward is waging war against certain French factors who are a threat to his father’s throne. He quickly becomes captain of Lord Edward’s archers and plays a major role in some of England’s most decisive and ruthless battles, both in France and in England. Gruffyd is very young for such an important post and must continually prove not only his own worth, but also the value and importance of his archers in winning significant battles.

Did I enjoy the book? Yes and no. The author’s style of writing – short sentences, almost staccato in style and with sparse description—took a bit of getting used to. The story itself moves quickly and is true to both the history and battles of the time and the use of the longbow. As a reader, I learned a great deal about archery (long bow, cross bow, and the pros and cons of both), how archers were used to advantage in battle, and the life of an outlaw in England – it’s not all Robin Hood. The battle scenes spared no gruesome detail, but then battles in the Middle Ages were gruesome affairs.

What I found somewhat off-putting were the deaths of most of Gruffyd’s friends, while he himself moved seamlessly and without injury through challenge after challenge, always finding just the right solution and earning a lot of money from his employer in the process. It was a tiny bit too perfect. The name Gruffyd chooses to disguise who he really is – Gerald War Bow – felt an off note, but considering the names of other characters, such as Dickon of Downholme, Matty Strawhair, and Rafe Oak Arms, perhaps not so much. The author has an enormous grasp of warfare in the Middle Ages and the history of the time, so it’s perhaps just the writing style that threw me off.

I was drawn along by the story, despite the drawbacks, and if you like historical novels, you might want to sample one of his books to see if his storytelling appeals to you.

PS I thought the cover was spectacular!

About the author (from Amazon):

Griff Hossker was born in Lancashire. He became an English teacher and taught in the North East of England for 35 years. He co-wrote a number of musicals including Shakespeare The Musical and The Journey (produced at the Millennium Dome in 2000). He enjoys history, visiting castles and reading historical novels. His novels span English history from the Roman invasion through to World War II as well as a trilogy of books set in the American Civil War and an ongoing Napoleonic series.
He has travelled extensively speaking about his novels, and he has sold more than 980,000 books world- wide. He has regular interaction with his readers whom he regards as friends rather than customers.

You can find Griff Hosker

On his website: http:/
On twitter: @HoskerGriff

And on Facebook:

An Uncommon Woman: Sojourner Truth


This month is Black History month here in the U.S. I would like to open the month by telling you about Sojourner Truth.

Sojourner Truth was an African American evangelist, abolitionist, women’s rights activist and author who lived as a slave, serving several masters throughout New York before escaping to freedom in 1826. Truth was born Isabella Baumfree in 1797, one of the 10 or 12 children of James and Elizabeth Baumfree. Her parents had been bought by a Colonel Hardenbergh from slave traders and kept at his estate in a big hilly area  about 95 miles north of New York City.[

She was born Isabella Baumfree in 1797 to slave parents in Ulster County, New York. When she was about nine years old, she was sold at a slave auction to John Neely for $100, along with a flock of sheep, separated forever from her family. Neely was a cruel and violent man who beat his slaves, including young Isabella, regularly. Before she was 13, she was sold two more times, the final time to John Dumont and his wife Elizabeth of West Park.

When she was 18, she fell in love with another slave but was not allowed to marry him because they had different owners. Instead, she was forced to marry a slave named Thomas, who was also owned by Dumont. She eventually bore him five children.

In the early 1800s, New York started legislating emancipation, but it was a slow process that would take over two decades to come for all slaves in the state. Dumont promised he’d give Isabella her freedom on July 4, 1826, but the date came and went, and he refused to let her go.

The tall (six feet) woman was so incensed that Dumont had reneged, she left his household. taking  her infant daughter. As she later said, “I did not run off, for I thought that wicked, but I walked off, believing that to be all right.” She was taken in by Isaac and Maria Van Wagenen in New Paltz, but Dumont came after her to claim his ‘property.’ Wan Wagenen bought Isabella’s services from Dumont for $20 and declared her freed in 1827.

Dumont had one more card to play. After the New York Anti-Slavery Law was passed, Dumont illegally sold Isabella’s five-year-old son Peter. Isabella countered by filing a lawsuit to get him back. She was the first black woman to sue a white man in a United States court and win. While living with the Van Wagenen, Isabella she became a fervent Christian. In 1829, she moved to New York city with Peter to work as a housekeeper, first for evangelist preacher Elijah Pierson and then for another preacher, Robert Matthews.

In 1843, with what she believed was her religious obligation to go forth and speak the truth, she changed her name to Sojourner Truth and embarked on a journey to preach the gospel and speak out against slavery and oppression. She became convinced God called on her to leave the city and go into the countryside “testifying the hope that was in her”.

Truth helped recruit black soldiers during the Civil War and worked in Washington, DC, for the National Freedman’s Relief Association, rallying people to donate food, clothes and other supplies to black refugees.

Her activism in the abolitionist movement gained the attention of President Abraham Lincoln,  who invited her to the White House in October of 1864. While Truth was in Washington, she put her courage and disdain for segregation on display by riding on whites-only streetcars. When the Civil War ended, she tried to find jobs for freed blacks weighed down with poverty.

In 1867, Truth moved to Battle Creek, Michigan, where some of her daughters lived. She continued to speak out against discrimination and in favor of woman’s suffrage. She was especially concerned that some civil rights leaders such as Frederick Douglass felt equal rights for black men took precedence over those of black women.

Unknown Photographer, Sojourner Truth, 1864. Carte de visite (seated). Source: Gladstone Collection, Prints and Photographs Division, Library of Congress. Reproduction Number: LC-USZC4-6165 (3-11b)Sojourner Truth died at home on November 26, 1883, leaving behind a legacy of courage, faith and fighting for civil rights. She gifted future generations with her autobiography, The Narrative of Sojourner Truth, which she dictated in 1850 to Olive Gilbert since she never learned to read or write.

Truth’s life is perhaps best summed up by her own words: “Children, who made your skin white? Was it not God? Who made mine black? Was it not the same God? Am I to blame, therefore, because my skin is black? …. Does not God love colored children as well as white children? And did not the same Savior die to save the one as well as the other?”

Clearly these words resonated through the next centuries, taken to heart by Martin Luther King.

Book Review: Black as She’s Painted: An Ashmole Foxe Georgian Mystery by William Savage (@penandpension) #RBRT #Georgian Mystery


This review is for Rosie’s Book Review Team. The book was purchased by the reviewer.

Black as She’s Painted is the fifth book in the Ashmole Foxe Mysteries series by William Savage.  His other series is the Dr. Adam Bascom Mysteries and both are set in Georgian England, in and around Norwich. I will be honest and reveal I am a huge fan of William Savage and have enjoyed both of these mystery series. However, even though I come from a medical background, the Ashmole Foxe books are slight favorites, possibly because of the charismatic, unconventional and quirky protagonist.

Ashmole Foxe is a bookseller with his own shop, run largely and profitably for him by an entrepreneurial widow, Mrs. Crombie. Foxe is a dandy and an unrepentant hedonist, a lover of beautiful women in his bed, fine wine and a surfeit of good food, but despite all these social faults, he has solved several other mysteries for Norwich’s political and mercantile elite. Thus it is natural for him to be approached for assistance when a rich goldsmith turned banker Samuel Mellanus goes missing. Almost immediately there is further news: the banker’s wife, who has a promiscuous reputation, has been found naked and strangled to death in her own bed.

A group of politicians/merchants need Foxe to find Mellanus, since having a missing banker is catastrophic for a bank and its money, but they also need him to discover how thousands of pounds have been stolen from the bank, without anyone noticing they were missing…until now. Add to this conundrum is the fact that Mellanus had closed his gold smithing business for no apparent reason, letting all his workers go, and Foxe discovers that coins and jewelry were taken from Mr. and Mrs. Mellanus by their pretty maid Maria.

Can Foxe find Mellanus and the missing money? Was Eleanor Mellanus as black as she was painted, or was it simply her misfortune to be both desirable and dumb, used and betrayed by the men she welcomed to her bed?

To solve these crimes, Foxe will use his considerable investigative powers and intellect, plus the help of characters introduced in previous books: a motley crew of street children, Mistress Tabby – a so-called Cunning Woman or folk healer, who practices folk medicine, and magic, and a sea captain, Captain Brock, who has just returned from his honeymoon.

As usual, the author wraps the solution to these crimes in layer upon layer of hard- won information, much of it not useful at the time of its uncovering, plus a number of tangential crimes. Also as usual, the reader learns a great deal about specific aspects of Georgian life. In each book, one of these aspects is a focal point, in this case coinage and banking.

William Savage is a living compendium of Georgian life, and he creates a world into which the reader is absorbed, alternatively colorful and dangerous, and populated by characters that become real. Over the series, I have come to look forward to the reappearance of many of them, interested in how their lives are evolving, as they most certainly do.

I was not disappointed by the tangled ball of yarn created by the author to be unwound by Ashmole Foxe. The pacing of this mystery series is slow, in keeping with life in Georgian England, and is something I have learned to enjoy. It allows the reader to savor the story.

If I had one criticism, it is the length of time it takes to get to the mystery. There is always a period of introduction at the beginning of the Foxe stories but this one was long enough to be on the tedious side.

I was also disappointed that the changes in Foxe’s life in the last book – his turn to more sedate attire and true consideration of the women in his life – were not evident in this one. Can this man go on forever in his present state? Will age catch up with him? I guess I will have to wait for the next book to find out.

In any event, as always, I strongly recommend this latest Ashmole Foxe adventure to anyone who likes historical mysteries and to anyone who might!

About the author:

William Savage grew up in Hereford, on the border with Wales and took his degree at Cambridge. After a working life largely spent teaching and coaching managers and leaders in Britain, Europe and the USA, he retired to Norfolk, where he volunteers at a National Trust property and started to write fiction as a way of keeping his mind active in retirement. He had read and enjoyed hundreds of detective stories and mystery novels and another of his loves was history, so it seemed natural to put the two together and try his hand at producing an historical mystery. To date, he has focused on two series of murder-mystery books, both set in Norfolk between 1760 and around 1800 — a period of turmoil in Britain, with constant wars, the revolutions in America and France and finally the titanic, 22-year struggle with France and Napoleon.

Norfolk is not only an inherently interesting county, it happens to be where the author lives, which makes the necessary research far easier. The Georgian period seemed natural choice for him as well, since he lives in a small Georgian town, close by several other towns that still bear the imprint of the eighteenth century on many of their streets and grander buildings. It also had the attraction of being a period he had never studied intensively, and so far he has not regretted his choice. The period has far exceeded his expectations in richness of incidents, rapidity of change and plentiful opportunities for anyone with a macabre interest in writing about crimes of every kind. He cannot see himself running out of plot material any time soon!

You can find Black as She’s Painted on Amazon:

William Savage’s blog is Pen and Pension: I highly recommend his blog for his fascinating posts on all aspects of life in Georgian England.

You can also find him

On Twitter: @penandpension

And on Facebook: