Today’s team review is from Liz, she blogs at https://lizannelloyd.wordpress.com/
Liz has been reading This Parody Of Death by William Savage
This is the third Ashmole Fox Georgian mystery, but the first I have read. This was no hindrance as Fox’s tastes and character are soon evident to the reader and indeed in this volume he seems to be on the cusp of a changes in his character being an aging man, over 30! Ashmole lives in Norwich, which in the 18th century was a vibrant city. A rich man with plenty of time on his hands, ostensibly a book seller, but leaving the day-to-day work to the reliable Mrs Crombie, he is becoming an expert at solving murder mysteries.
On this occasion the victim is Richard Logan, the unpopular Tower Captain of the United Norwich Ringers. The Bell Ringers were soon to play the famous “Bloody Peal” but will now be unable to achieve it without their Captain. Soon Fox finds several possible murderers and also mystery concerning Logan’s family and home affairs. Aided by young Charlie Dillon, a former urchin, he is able to make use of the street children and young whores, to spy on the suspects.
The unique character of William Savage’s books is the convincing detail he gives of 18th century life without in any way slowing down the narrative. For instance, we read that the talent of weavers to memorise pattern linked to physical movement made them particularly suited to change ringing in church bell towers, which was so popular at the time and Fox’s queries about the clothing worn by different classes of women produces a fascinating description of their varied attire from his maid-servant
There are a panoply of amusing characters such as the Calderwood sisters, whose lives running a Dame school have made them a fount of local gossip. As Ashmole sits before them, they talk as if he is not in the room,
“Young Ashmole always had nice manners”, Miss Hannah said.
“Nice manners but no morals whatsoever,” her sister replied, “especially in the matter of females.”
Savage has created a believable world of historical authority which I enjoyed dipping into and I thoroughly agree with the judicious decision he makes about the murder which might not have been possible in the present day.
Eighteenth-century Norwich bookseller and dandy, Ashmole Foxe, is asked by the local bellringers to look into the death of their Tower Captain, who has been found in the ringing chamber with his throat cut. Since the victim had a foul temper, as well as being a notorious miser, killjoy and recluse, there’s no shortage of suspects. Yet with everyone lying about themselves and their relationships with the dead man, Foxe knows it will take even more cunning than usual to dig out the truth. When, on top of all that, he discovers nothing about the victim is what it seems, he realises he must dig into the man’s past as well as his present. Can he ever separate truth from pretence and the genuine from the fake?
On the track of the killer, Foxe encounters many of his city’s 18th-century inhabitants along the way, including a sharp young whore, several frightened tradesmen, a reclusive miser, an unlucky attorney, a desperate Ship’s Mate and a woman who gets the better of him nearly every time they meet. Bit by bit, Mr Foxe reveals a tale of greed, bitter family strife and unexpected love. A tale that ended in the church tower in an explosion of anger and death.
About the author
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 run a new blog, devoted to the world of Georgian England, which you can find at http://www.penandpension.com.
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