Rosie’s #BookReview Team #RBRT A Tincture Of Secrets And Lies by @penandpension #TuesdayBookBlog

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

#RBRT Review Team

Noelle has been reading A Tincture Of Secrets And Lies by William Savage

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

A Tincture of Secrets and Lies is the fourth book in the Dr. Adam Bascom Mysteries series by William Savage.  His other series is the Ashmole Foxe Mysteries and both are set in Georgian England, in and around Norwich. I’ve read the previous three Dr. Adam Bascom books, mainly because I love mysteries, history, and am married to a physician. A perfect syzygy for Savage’s books. Despite being part of a series, A Tincture of Secrets and Lies can be read as a stand-alone, without any confusion on the part of the reader.

The main character, Dr. Adam Bascom, practices medicine in Aylsham, a small town in Norwich. His closest friend, and the person off whom he bounces ideas, is Peter Lassimer, a pharmacist and a confirmed ladies’ man. Dr. Bascom’s unmarried status has the subject of many of their interchanges, but this book hints that his status may change,  sooner or later. Dr. Bascom has fallen in love with Lady Alice, young and wealthy widow of one of his former patients.

The story opens on the night of April 13, 1793 with two significant events. Bascom is thrown from his horse on his way home, and lies unconscious for a long time on a remote country road. At the same time, some miles away, a young woman is viciously stabbed, her body pushed under a hedge to prevent it from being discovered.

The good doctor, although badly hurt, rouses himself enough to let his horse lead him home, but his injuries are serious enough to keep him there for an extended recovery period. In previous adventures, Bascom has developed into an astute detective, and when two other murders are discovered, he is naturally sought out to solve them. However, this time he is frustratingly confined to his bed and must use Peter Lassimer, the nephew and niece of Lady Alice, and even his groom, William, to be his eyes, ears and legs to find the killer.  Through them, he uncovers a plot to destabilize the country, already on edge with a threatened invasion by the French, and the topic of smuggling, rampant on the English coast, becomes entwined in the story.

I shared the sheer frustration of Bascom, being confined to his room and then his home, and at the mercy of his housekeeper, Mrs. Brigstone; Hannah, the nervous parlor maid; and Mrs. Munning, a warm-hearted young widow brought in to nurse him. I was nearly tearing my hair out, right along with the patient. How the author managed to keep the plot afoot from Bascom’s confines is a real feat, but allows him to write from different characters’ points of view, which keeps the readers interest. I particularly enjoyed, Professor Panacea (wherever did Savage get that name?), a snake oil salesman with real charisma but no medical knowledge.

Characters from previous books in the series evolve in this one. Lady Alice’s niece, Ruth Scudamore, is a young woman who dislikes the trapping s of traditional society, and is more than happy to investigate and interview people at Bascom’s direction. She reminds me of a Georgian Nancy Drew. Her twin brother Charles, who has been unable to find a focus for his life other than genteel leisure, discovers what he’s made of working for the doctor. Through him, the reader gets to experience a military attack to stop a group of rebels. The reader is kept hanging about the outcome of the doctor’s relationship with Lady Alice, who keeps a huge secret from Bascom. Perhaps in the next book?

The author’s ability to weave interesting characters into the social mores and historical detail of the day is his strength, along with a complex and complicated storyline. The book is written at the pace of the time, and there is lengthy dialogue, both of which can take a period of adjustment for the reader; however, but with the varied settings and points of view, the mystery never flags. I recommend it to all, but especially to readers who love mysteries in perfectly described, historically accurate settings.

Book description

The night of April 13th, 1793 has proved unlucky for at least two people. Dr Adam Bascom has been thrown from his horse to lie injured, unconscious and alone on a remote country roadway. Barely a mile away, another man is thrusting the body of the young woman he has just murdered as far under a hedge as he can. Thus begins one of Adam Bascom’s most complicated mysteries; one that will end in many more deaths and a fight off the coast of Norfolk between a navy frigate and a French privateer. Trapped at home by his injuries, Adam still finds ways to use his friends and family as his eyes and ears as he uncovers the solution to a series of local murders — and a plot to destabilise the country as it awaits the threatened invasion by the French revolutionary government.

About the author

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 Team #RBRT #Mystery A Tincture Of Secrets And Lies by @penandpension #TuesdayBookBlog

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

#RBRT Review Team

Terry has been reading A Tincture Of Secrets by William Savage

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A TINCTURE OF SECRETS AND LIES by William Savage

4.5 stars

An 18th century murder mystery, the 4th in the Adam Bascom series.  Stands alone, but I would suggest reading the earlier books first, to become acquainted with Adam and the other players in his world.

The first 35% or so of this novel takes place in the bedroom of our hero, the Norfolk doctor and crime solver; he is suffering from dire injuries following an accident, and, whilst recovering, is brought news of foul deeds and heinous crimes that deserve his attention.  Anyone who can hold my attention with the first third of a novel set in one room (and I read every word) is worthy of applause ~ indeed, in many ways, this is the best so far of Mr Savage’s novels.  As well as the nicely plotted murder mystery, he has included more scene-setting, more detail about the day-to-day living of the time, and the history of the area; North Norfolk is particularly close to my heart, and the setting of his books is part of their appeal for me.

The story brings to life so well the class hierarchy of the time, and tells how for the inhabitants of coastal villagers, involvement in smuggling was a way of life; I’d love to read another Bascom book based around this.  It also shows how those in power in England were concerned that the rebellion of the French peasantry would influence those in this country to rise up in the same manner.

With Adam housebound, the novel needed to step outside his Aylsham house eventually, to add drama, and I was pleased to see some chapters from other characters’ points of view: Ruth Scudamore, who is absolutely my sort of girl (she has no time for fripperies and society trivia), her brother Charles, who finds himself far outside his life of genteel leisure when he joins in a military attack to stop a scuffle with a group of rebels, and Adam’s groom, William, sent to uncover a mysterious ‘quack’ who sells his elixirs to the gullible public.  I was also very impressed by a chapter written from the point of view of rebel Peter Gort, who sees himself as a swashbuckling hero of the underclasses.

I was slightly underwhelmed by the wrapping up, and would have liked to see the baddies get their comeuppance(s) rather than just hearing about it in reports and letters, and just a bit more drama and impact, but I still thoroughly enjoyed the book ~ and the delightful way in which it ended: will Adam’s romantic life unfold as he wishes, after all his doubt and frustration?  I look forward to the next episode, to find out!

Book description

The night of April 13th, 1793 has proved unlucky for at least two people. Dr Adam Bascom has been thrown from his horse to lie injured, unconscious and alone on a remote country roadway. Barely a mile away, another man is thrusting the body of the young woman he has just murdered as far under a hedge as he can. Thus begins one of Adam Bascom’s most complicated mysteries; one that will end in many more deaths and a fight off the coast of Norfolk between a navy frigate and a French privateer. Trapped at home by his injuries, Adam still finds ways to use his friends and family as his eyes and ears as he uncovers the solution to a series of local murders — and a plot to destabilise the country as it awaits the threatened invasion by the French revolutionary government.

About the author

I started to write fiction as a way of keeping my mind active in retirement. I have read and enjoyed hundreds of detective stories and mystery novels. One of my other loves is history, so it seemed natural to put the two together. Thus began two series of murder mystery books set in Norfolk.
All my books are set between 1760 and around 1800, a period of turmoil in Britain, with constant wars, 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 the North Norfolk coast. Adam builds a successful medical practice, but his insatiable curiosity and knack for unravelling intrigue constantly involve him in mysteries large and small.
I have spent a good deal of my life travelling in Britain and overseas. Now I am more than content to write stories and run a blog devoted to the world of Georgian England.

William Savage

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Rosie’s #BookReview Team #RBRT #HistFic #Mystery A Tincture Of Secrets And Lies by @penandpension

Today’s team review is from Liz, she blogs here https://lizannelloyd.wordpress.com/

#RBRT Review Team

Liz has been reading A Tincture Of Secrets And Lies by William Savage

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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.

Book description

The night of April 13th, 1793 has proved unlucky for at least two people. Dr Adam Bascom has been thrown from his horse to lie injured, unconscious and alone on a remote country roadway. Barely a mile away, another man is thrusting the body of the young woman he has just murdered as far under a hedge as he can. Thus begins one of Adam Bascom’s most complicated mysteries; one that will end in many more deaths and a fight off the coast of Norfolk between a navy frigate and a French privateer. Trapped at home by his injuries, Adam still finds ways to use his friends and family as his eyes and ears as he uncovers the solution to a series of local murders — and a plot to destabilise the country as it awaits the threatened invasion by the French revolutionary government.

About the author

I started to write fiction as a way of keeping my mind active in retirement. I have read and enjoyed hundreds of detective stories and mystery novels. One of my other loves is history, so it seemed natural to put the two together. Thus began two series of murder mystery books set in Norfolk.
All my books are set between 1760 and around 1800, a period of turmoil in Britain, with constant wars, 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 the North Norfolk coast. Adam builds a successful medical practice, but his insatiable curiosity and knack for unravelling intrigue constantly involve him in mysteries large and small.
I have spent a good deal of my life travelling in Britain and overseas. Now I am more than content to write stories and run a blog devoted to the world of Georgian England.

William Savage

Goodreads | AmazonUK | AmazonUS | Twitter

 

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

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

Rosie's Book Review team 1

Noelle 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 is the second in a mystery series set in Georgian England. I read the first in the series and was intrigued by the historical setting and, since I’m married to a physician and taught medical students for years, was drawn to the sleuth, an MD and his closest friend, Peter Lassimer, a pharmacist and a confirmed ladies’ man.

I liked this book even better than the first. The main character, Dr. Adam Bascom, is written with more depth and angles to his character. He is highly intelligent with keen deductive skills, but as the story opens, he is bored with his rural practice and despairing of many of his patients – cantankerous wealthy people who do not pay their bills. He enjoyed his role as a novice detective in the first of his investigations, when he sussed out the murderer of man whose body was found in a graveyard, and longs for more excitement. He is also clueless about women, and his mother despairs he will ever form any attachment leading to marriage.

Bascom doesn’t have to endure his situation for long because he receives an urgent summons from Mr. Wicken, who had some interaction with Bascom on the previous case and heads up a clandestine department of the British government charged with finding spies. A young man has been attacked in Norwich. He is in a catatonic state, and Bascom is asked to treat him because this man is an important a code breaker for the government. In addition, the King’s Messenger who was bringing the young man documents to decode has been murdered, and the documents are missing. Before he can get to Norwich, however, Bascom is summoned by his brother to do a post-mortem on an unpopular miller and testify at the ensuing inquest. The way in which the author unravels all the threads of the story is compelling.

Characters are one of Savage’s fortes. He introduces us to several women who attract Bascom’s attention: the delightful and intelligent Sophie LaSalle, his mother’s companion, who insists on helping him with his investigations; the flirtatious Phoebe Farnsworth, an actress who introduces Bascom to the London stage; and the young and faithful wife of the elderly and wise Sir Daniel Fouchard, who requests the skills and company of Bascom to manage his pain while he is dying. Even more colorful are Captain Mimms, an old friends of Bascom’s, whose help he enlists in the investigation; two of Mimms’ former crew, the amusing scoundrels Peg and Dobbin; and Molly, a young prostitute with a heart of gold.

Beyond the characters, what I particularly enjoy about these books is the history of the politics of time (food riots, possible war with France, privateers and spying) and descriptions of the practice of medicine and pharmacy. Savage also gives the reader a fine-tuned description of Georgian society and manners and lively dialog in the manner of the times. The conversations drive the story.

I was decidedly kept guessing about where the various threads of the story would lead and how they would come together as they twisted and turned around Bascom’s detecting. This is story telling at its best. I give The Code for Killing five stars and highly recommend this series. Is it obvious I’m looking forward to reading the next book?

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

 

 

 

 

 

 

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 https://lizannelloyd.wordpress.com/

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.

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

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

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

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.

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