The Winners!#RBRT Rosie’s Book Review Team presents: The Gold & Silver Rose Awards 2016
*Cough* … On behalf of my team, I’m delighted to announce the winners and runners-up in the #RBRT 2016 book awards!
Books were selected from the several hundred submitted to our team for review over the past year, with the 24 finalists voted for by the reviewing team. These finalists were then offered up to the public for voting. Congratulations to the 8 winners and runners up!
A click of the book’s title will take you to Goodreads, where you can see reviews, and also leads to the Amazon, etc, buy links.
Noelle has been reading The Code For Killing 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?
Jenny has been reading The Code For Killing by William Savage
The Code for Killing is a fascinating historical mystery set in Georgian England. It is the second novel in a series and there are fairly frequent references to the previous mystery, but the novel can be read and enjoyed without any previous knowledge of the first book..
The main character is Dr Adam Boscom – a man who, for all his intellect and skills, has very little understanding of women, much to his mother’s despair and also amusement. Adam relies on quite a few women to help him solve the mystery, including the delightful and spirited Miss Sophia LaSalle. I do hope there will be a sequel as I would love to hear more from this character in particular.
The mystery is set in the turbulent times of the late 1700s and there are many details about the political situations of the period, such as the riots in Norfolk, that add greatly to the vividness of the storytelling. The characters come from all walks of life – we meet the wise Sir Daniel Fouchard, Miss Phoebe Farnsworth the actress and the wonderfully named pair of sailors, Peg and Dobbin, to mention a few among many gems. The details of medical conditions and treatments at that time are described in interesting detail and I was very amused when London was described as ‘noisy and crowded’ by Adam on his welcome return to Aylsham – some things don’t change!
All in all, a really good, well-written story, with great richness of detail. Thoroughly recommended!
Liz has been reading The Code For Killing 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.
Terry has been reading The Code For Killing 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.