Rosie’s #Bookreview Team #RBRT THE CODE FOR KILLING by William Savage @penandpension #FridayReads

Today’s second team review is from Liz, she blogs at

Rosie's Book Review team 1

Liz has been reading The Code For Killing by William Savage

The Code for Killing (The Dr Adam Bascom Mysteries Book 2) by [William Savage]

The Code for Killing opens on a damp miserable day in 18th century Norfolk, where young Dr Adam Bascom is in a foul mood.  Fed up with traipsing through the muddy tracks to visit cantankerous wealthy patients, who are reluctant to pay his bills, he is in need of a change and perhaps some excitement.  But soon his life is taken over by murder investigations and constant travel from his small north Norfolk village to Norwich and also to London.

In An Unlamented Death, William Savage’s previous novel about Dr Bascom, Adam discovered a body in a country churchyard, but this time his help is sought by Mr Wicken, an important government official, who sends a King’s Messenger asking him to treat an injured man in Norwich, who has been attacked in suspicious circumstances.  Adam becomes embroiled in investigating the young man’s predicament, partly because he is in a catatonic state but also because he had been employed in secret work for the country.  The murder of a King’s Messenger in the same city adds urgency to his task.  There are further complications when Adam has to testify at the inquest of an unpopular miller who also appears to have been murdered.

The investigations do not prevent us from becoming well acquainted with Adam and his friends and family.  Unlike his pleasure seeking friend, the apothecary, Peter Lassimer, Adam is awkward and tactless when engaging with women, even though he appreciates their charms.  His encounters with an actress, a whore and his mother’s educated lady companion are all rich in wit and humour.  Other interesting characters such as the two appropriately named seamen Peg and Dobbin add to the richness of the narrative.

All this against the background of Georgian society and historical details of worries about French privateers and food shortages make this novel a fascinating visit into the past, combined with an intriguing mystery solved by an empathetic hero, aided by several lively women.

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Rosie’s #BookReview Team #RBRT THE CODE FOR KILLING by William Savage @penandpension #SundayBlogShare

Today’s team review is from Terry, she blogs at

Rosie's Book Review team 1

Terry has been reading The Code For Killing by William Savage


The Code for Killing (The Dr Adam Bascom Mysteries Book 2) by [William Savage]


5 out of 5 stars

I loved William Savage’s debut novel, An Unlamented Death, so was eager to read the next in the series. The Code for Killing re-acquaints us with 18th century Norfolk doctor Adam Bascom, who has, once more, become involved in a murder mystery, this time to do with a possible spy passing information to the French. I enjoyed this book even more than the first; it was one of those I was disappointed to finish.

As with the previous book, the murder mystery itself plays a second part, for me, though it’s well thought out, intriguing and not predictable. What keeps me turning the pages is the prose itself, a joy to read. The main body of the novel is conversation, and the characters are so beautifully illustrated by their dialogue alone that they need little else to bring them to life. I was pleased to renew my acquaintance with Adam’s apothecary friend Peter Lassimer, a cheerful ladies’s man, with the eccentric Captain Mimms, and his mother’s sparky companion, Sophia LaSalle. New characters are introduced, too: the lovely Daniel Foucard, an aristocrat on his deathbed who befriends Adam, and delightful incidentals such as ‘lady of the night’ Molly Hawkins, and sailors Peg and Dobbin. Forming the backdrop of the story is the unrest amongst the common people of Norfolk due to the greedy and illegal practices of a certain miller, and the dissatisfaction that results from the war with France. Times were as uncertain and dangerous then as now…

When reading this book I became completely absorbed in the time and the characters; however, I did find myself wishing for more descriptive detail. I am familiar with some of the landmarks, such as the Maid’s Head Hotel, Gentleman’s Walk and Cow Tower in Norwich, and also the Black Boys in Aylsham, so I could imagine the settings, but for anyone who doesn’t know Norfolk it might not be so easy to do so. For instance, on Adam’s journeys to London I was looking forward to reading about what the landscape was actually like between Norwich and London. What was the inside of a Drury Lane theatre like? A London Inn? The inside of the seedy Lampson’s cafe? How about the road from Norwich out to the coast? Historical fiction addicts like me love to read about times gone by because we want to immerse ourselves in the past—so we want to know what these people of over 200 years ago would have seen! The same with the insides of the houses, the day to day activities. There was more description as the book went on, but I yearned for yet more! I am not a one for pages and pages of description of soft furnishings and clothes, but a little more creation of atmosphere would have made me enjoy this book even more.

Despite this very minor complaint (which I am sure would not be an issue for many), I have no hesitation in giving the book 5 stars; I think more description would take William Savage from being an extremely good writer of historical fiction into a truly great one.

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