Rosie’s #Bookreview Team #RBRT This Parody Of Death by William Savage @penandpension #HistFic

Today’s team review is from Noelle, she blogs here http://saylingaway.wordpress.com

#RBRT Review Team

Noelle has been reading This Parody Of Death by William Savage

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Book Review: This Parody of Death by William Savage @penandpension #RBRT #Georgian Mystery

This is the third book in the Ashmole Foxe series, about a Georgian dandy, bookseller, and occasional unofficial investigator. I reviewed both of the previous books and like this character. Of the three, this book is my favorite.

Ashmole Foxe, a man about town and known for his foppish ways, moves easily through Georgian Norwich because of his ownership of a popular bookstore. He has also developed something of a nose for investigation. When a miserly, curmudgeonly undertaker and bell ringer is found with his throat cut, Foxe is sought out by the local grocer, Foxe’s friend Captain Brock, and Alderman Halloran to find the killer. There are more tracks to follow in the investigation than a dog has fleas: a group committed to a secret heresy, a son who betrayed his father, a house with deep and deadly secrets, a woman determined to protect the great passion of her life, a daughter scorned, and a group of bell ringers with axes to grind. Foxe has to unwind a web of lies, false leads, and decades-old deceits to find the killer.

There were no giveaway hints in this book, and I was kept guessing almost to the end. The characters are wonderfully individual, from the urchin whom Foxe befriended, with his own army of street minions, the widow who runs his store, to the seafaring Captain Brock, who may soon be landlocked by a woman. The Georgian world created by the author is authentic to minuscule details, and the reader is immediately immersed in its colorful activity. What I liked most about This Parody of Death was the growth of Foxe. He engages in serious self-examination about the nature of his life, his over-the-top fashion, and possible goals for the future. This character is truly three dimensional and real.

There are a few drawbacks I have noted before: some repetition, over-long discussions between characters and Foxe’s lengthy considerations. However, these are minor compared to the enjoyment of this read. Who knew I would learn about the mathematical patterns of the change-ringing of church bells?

I recommend this book as a great read, as are all of William Savage’s books.

Book Description

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 Savage

William Savage grew up in Hereford, on the border with Wales and too his degree at Cambridge. After a career in various managerial and executive roles, he retired to Norfolk, where he volunteers at a National Trust property. His life-long interest has been history, which led to research and writing about the eighteenth century.  But his is not just a superficial interest in history, but a real desire to understand and transmit the daily experience of living in turbulent times.

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Rosie’s Review Team #RBRT This Parody Of Death by William Savage @penandpension #TuesdayBookBlog

Today’s team review is from Terry, she blogs at http://terrytylerbookreviews.blogspot.co.uk/

#RBRT Review Team

Terry has been reading This Parody Of Death by William Savage

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THIS PARODY OF DEATH by William Savage

4 out of 5 stars

This third Ashmole Foxe 18th century murder mystery has more humorous overtones than the first two, and is probably a more ‘easy read’ for those who are not particularly interested in historical fiction per se. Ashmole Foxe is a wealthy gentleman bookseller of Norwich, a leading member of city society and a slightly world-weary ladies’ man.  He is also known to take an interest in crime within the area, and in This Parody of Death he is invited to solve the murder of Richard Logan, an undertaker and recluse.  As Foxe delves into the lives of those involved with Logan, he uncovers far more than he had ever expected.

As ever, I quickly became absorbed in the world of 18th century Norwich; it’s a city I know, so this was interesting for me.  Mr Savage’s characterisation of Foxe is first class, as, for the first time, he begins to question his own future, his attitudes to women, and even the flamboyant way in which he dresses.  I liked that there was a look inside the head of Charlie, Foxe’s street urchin messenger, with a chapter from his own point of view, and Mr Savage makes the reader all too aware of the seamier side of life beneath the period’s veneer of respectability.  I also enjoyed the amusing insight into the mysteriously competitive world of church bell ringing (yes, it sounds a bit obscure, but it’s very well done), and the alternative views on the hypocrisy of formally accepted Christianity.

With regard to the plot itself, it is convincing, and unpredictable.  I felt there were a few inconsistencies within the novel, and some repetition of fact that was not necessary, but the uncovering of the crime is dialogue-led, so this was perhaps unavoidable in some circumstances.  The characters are the stars of this book; I’d love to see them in a novel other than a murder mystery, as I think they have potential for more.  This is a most enjoyable novel, and I’m happy to recommend it.

Book Description

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 Savage

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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Rosie’s #BookReview Team #RBRT A SHORTCUT TO MURDER by William Savage @penandpension #HistFic

Today’s team review is from Terry, she blogs at http://terrytylerbookreviews.blogspot.co.uk/

#RBRT Review Team

Terry has been reading A Shortcut to Murder by William Savage

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A Shortcut to Murder by William Savage

4.5 stars

The third murder mystery set in 18th century rural Norfolk, in which the now wealthy and ever inquisitive doctor, Adam Bascom, sets out to discover the truth behind evil doings.

As with the other books in this series, A Shortcut to Murder is filled with delightfully portrayed characters of the time: the chattering ladies seeking marriage for their offspring, girls either fashion conscious and empty-headed, or frustrated by how the society into which they are born places limits on their lives.  There are the village folk, the innkeepers and farmers, all aware of their station in life and suspicious of folk from elsewhere ~ not unlike the Norfolk of some 250 years later.

I do like reading about the history of a county I know well, within these books; only a few years ago I ate at The Three Pigs at Edgefield, mentioned in the book, though I think it is now just called The Pigs, and I daresay the decor has changed!  More interesting still, an innkeeper’s wife in Cley supplies Adam with information about the area in Tudor times.  Adam may have been eager to change the subject, but I wanted to know more!

Usually with Mr Savage’s books I feel that the plot is secondary to the characterisation and dialogue, but with this one I gave a silent round of applause to the clever plot, too ~ I am not much of a one for unravelling mysteries, but this one had me most intrigued and I thought it was artfully put together.  That’s not to say I didn’t enjoy the characters as much as usual, particularly the wealthy and idle Scudamore twins.  The only downside I ever find with books by this author is the occasional over-egging of the plot detail, with every intricate detail discussed once too often, and in the middle there was a patch when I felt the dialogue was too information loaded and I wanted to say, ‘oh, get on with it’, but then it very swiftly did, and I thoroughly enjoyed the rest of the book.

I think that this would be enjoyed by all lovers of the historical period, by anyone who respects a well thought out mystery, and, of course, by those like myself who love Norfolk.   

Find a copy here from Amazon.co.uk or Amazon.com

Book Description

After helping solve two murders, 18th-century Norfolk physician Dr Adam Bascom just wants to get back to his medical work. Fate, however, seems determined to keep him off-balance. His brother, Giles, is called upon as magistrate to investigate the death of Sir Jackman Wennard, rake, racehorse breeder and baronet. 

The man’s son insists his father died by falling from his horse in a hunting accident. The coroner’s medical examiner has other ideas. He says the baronet died from a single blow to the neck hard enough to snap his spine in two—a blow that came from the front. To Giles, Adam is the perfect choice to give a second opinion and resolve the disagreement. 

Adam is soon convinced it was murder, so agrees to help his brother find the killer. This is going to be no easy task. For a start, the crime appears impossible. How could the blow be delivered with such force when the man was on the back of a large horse? How could the killer have known where and when to lie in wait? No one could have foreseen Sir Jackman’s movements on the morning of his death—not even the man himself. If some kind of trap was used, how did it kill so cleanly, then disappear within moments? 

The unresolved questions keep piling up. Why did Sir Jackman Wennard abruptly ride off on his own in the opposite direction to everyone else? Why was he returning from yet another direction? Where had he been? Did the gunshots some say they heard have anything to do with what happened? Did they even exist? 

Faced with an impossible crime, conflicting evidence and the hostility of the dead man’s son, who refuses even to discuss his father’s death, Adam turns once more to his friends and contacts. Along the way, he faces growing emotional conflicts as well as factual ones. His mother is determined to find him a wife; he doesn’t want to marry; and he hasn’t yet come close to understanding his real feelings. 

In the midst of these uncertainties, drama turns into crisis. Everything known about Sir Jackman Wennard and his family is thrown into confusion by an event from the man’s past. The Wennard family fragments, his son is reported kidnapped and the whole neighbourhood is suddenly plagued by a rash of highway robberies. As events plunge out-of-control towards the inevitable confrontation between past and present, can Adam pull his ideas together and move fast enough to prevent more lives being put at risk? 

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