Synopsis

How do you solve a murder when you are one of the suspects…

1664, London

Life should be good for Major Thankful Russell and his new bride, Thomazine. Russell, middle-aged and battle-scarred, isn’t everyone’s idea of the perfect husband for an eligible young woman but the moment Thomazine set eyes on her childhood hero, she knew they were destined for one another.

But Russell, a former Roundhead, now working for the King’s intelligence service, was never going to have a simple life in Restoration London.

Unable to shake suspicions of his Parliamentarian past, someone seems hell-bent on ruining his reputation — and his life.

 

My review

Now that the blurb has sent the scene, I can tell you that this unusual but ideally suited couple act together as seventeenth-century private detectives to clear Russell’s name.

The book is cleverly divided into four sections – Tinder, Spark, Fire and Ash – which fittingly describe and accompany the action. Fire is quite crucial to this book, not just physical fire but metaphorically in the determination and spirit we encounter in the pages.

In fact, everything about this book is clever and accomplished. It reminded me with an energetic shake why, not that I’m ever like to forget, I love historical fiction so much – it brings a period to life far more than even the best text book. Getting into our characters’ heads, following them around as they get soaked and cold on horseback, seeing them chisel off chunks of stale bread for breakfast, well, it really gives you a feel for what life was actually like.

We have some fabulous characters. Our hero is the introverted Thankful Russell, quiet but brave, and his bouncy new bride Thomazine, who made it clear to him that he was hers twenty years ago and she was still a toddler. Theirs is a happy, relaxed relationship. Thomazine isn’t a woman who’s going to disappear into the background, as is apparent from this, my favourite line from the whole book is when she says to her husband: “I have a brain in my head, husband, which I have not been permitted to use these three months and more, in case it scares the horses.”

The plot is intriguing and exciting, and the book races along. Almost too quickly, since I was enjoying it so much. But there’s more to come from this resolute and resourceful duo, thank goodness.

As well as a superb story and a whole host of fascinating rascals and rogues of various types, with a good assortment of honourable sorts too, there’s some easy-to-read and entertaining historical notes that are interesting and informative. The novel itself presents some major events of the period. You come away from this book with a much better idea of late seventeenth century history than when you went into it.

Definitely one to read if you’re a historical fiction fan, and even if you’re not! Trust me, it’s excellent.

 

About the author

M. J. Logue (as in cataLOGUE and epiLOGUE and not, ever, loge, which is apparently a kind of private box in a theatre) wrote her first short novel on a manual typewriter aged seven. It wasn’t very good, being about talking horses, but she made her parents sit through endless readings of it anyway.

Thirty-something years later she is still writing, although horses only come into it occasionally these days. Born and brought up in Lancashire, she moved to Cornwall at the turn of the century (and has always wanted to write that) and now lives in a granite cottage with her husband, and son, five cats, and various itinerant wildlife.

After periods of employment as a tarot reader, complaints call handler, executive PA, copywriter and civil servant, she decided to start writing historical fiction about the period of British history that fascinates her – the 17th century.

Her first series, covering the less than stellar career of a disreputable troop of Parliamentarian cavalry during the civil wars, was acclaimed by reviewers as “historical fiction written with elegance, wit and black humour” – but so many readers wanted to know whether fierce young lieutenant Thankful Russell ever did get his Happy Ever After, that the upcoming series of romantic thrillers for Sapere Books began.

Get in touch with MJ        

She can be found on Twitter @Hollie_Babbitt, lurking on the web at asweetdisorder.com, and posting photos of cake, cats and extreme embroidery on Instagram as asweetdisorder.

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