My new book, King of Kings, has a number of main characters. Meet Athelstan, the King of the English.

Athelstan is one of the main characters in my new book, King of Kings, a multiple point of view story, recounting affairs in Britain from 925-934.

Based on a historical person, my portrayal of him, is of course, fictitious, but there are many details known about him. However, we don’t know for sure who his mother was, it’s believed she might have been called Ecgwynn, and we don’t know, for certain, the name of his sister, but it’s believed she might have been named Edith. What is known is that his father was Edward, the son of King Alfred, and known to us today as Edward the Elder. Athelstan is also rare in that he is one of only two Saxon kings for who a contemporary image is available. (The other is Edgar, who would have been his step-nephew)

Edward the Elder
Edward the Elder – MS Royal 14 B VI.jpg
Miniature d’Édouard l’Ancien dans une généalogie royale du XIVe siècle. WikiCommons

It must be supposed that Athelstan was born sometime in the late 890s. And according to a later source, that written by William of Malmesbury in the 1100s (so over two hundred years later), Athelstan was raised at the court of his aunt, Æthelflæd of Mercia. David Dumville has questioned the truth of this, but to many, this has simply become accepted as fact.

‘he [Alfred] arranged for the boy’s education at the court of his daughter, Æthelflæd and Æthelred his son in law, where he was brought up with great care by his aunt and the eminent ealdorman for the throne that seemed to await him.’[i]


[i] Mynors, R.A.B. ed and trans, completed by Thomson, R.M. and Winterbottom, M. Gesta Regvm AnglorvmThe History of the English Kings, William of Malmesbury, (Clarendon Press, 1998), p.211 Book II.133

Æthelflæd image
Æthelflæd as depicted in the cartulary of Abingdon Abbey (British Library Cotton MS Claudius B VI, f.14).
https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Æthelflæd_as_depicted_in_the_cartulary_of_Abingdon_Abbey.png
AnonymousUnknown author, Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons

Why then might this have happened? Edward became king on the death of his father, Alfred, and either remarried at that time, or just before. Edward’s second wife (if indeed, he was actually married to Athelstan’s mother, which again, some doubt), Lady Ælfflæd is believed to have been the daughter of an ealdorman and produced a hefty number of children for Edward. Perhaps then, Athelstan and his unnamed sister, were an unwelcome reminder of the king’s first wife, or perhaps, as has been suggested, Alfred intended for Athelstan to succeed in Mercia after the death of Æthelflæd, and her husband, Æthelred, for that union produced one child, a daughter named Ælfwynn.

There is an acknowledged dearth of information surrounding King Edward the Elder’s rule of Wessex. He’s acknowledged as the king of the Anglo-Saxons. His father had been the king of Wessex. Historians normally use the surviving charters to unpick the political machinations of the Saxon kings, but for Edward, there’s a twenty year gap between the beginning and end of his reign, where almost no known genuine charters have survived. What isn’t known for sure, is how much control, if any, he had in Mercia. Was Mercia subservient to Wessex or was it ruled independently? It’s impossible to tell. And this makes it difficult to determine what Athelstan might have been doing, and also what his father’s intentions were towards him.

Frontispiece of Bede’s Life of St Cuthbert, showing King Æthelstan (924–39) presenting a copy of the book to the saint himself. 29.2 x 20cm (11 1/2 x 7 7/8″). Originally from MS 183, f.1v at Corpus Christi College, Cambridge. (Wikimedia Commons)

What is known is that following the death of King Edward in 924, Athelstan was acknowledged as the king of Mercia; his stepbrother, Ælfweard was proclaimed king in Wessex. As with all events at this time, it shouldn’t be assumed that just because this is what happened, this is what was always intended.

‘Here King Edward died at Farndon in Mercia; and very soon, 16 days after, his son Ælfweard died at Oxford; and their bodies lie at Winchester. And Athelstan was chosen as king by the Mercians and consecrated at Kingston.’[i]


[i] Swanton, M. trans and edit The Anglo-Saxon Chronicles, (Orion Publishing Group, 2000), D text p.105

But, if Athelstan was raised in Mercia, it’s highly likely he was a warrior from a young age, helping the Mercians defeat the Viking raiders who still had control of the Danish Five Boroughs of Lincoln, Nottingham, Derby, Nottingham and Leicester.

And the events of 924 are where King of Kings begins, and so I will leave him there. By now, he would have been perhaps thirty years old, give or take a few years. What sort of man was he? What sort of king might he be? Do please read King of Kings to find out. And, if this intrigues you, then do please have a look at Sarah Foot’s wonderful monograph on him, Athelstan, from Yale Publishing.

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Preorder King of Kings now

(released 20th February 2023)

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Today, it’s my turn on the #blogtour for Jane Dunn’s new historical romance, The Marriage Season. (There’s a lot of horses in this, so yes, I loved it:)

Here’s the blurb

‘It’s not a fair world I’m afraid. Beauty or fortune carries the day. You have the beauty and I the fortune, so there’s every chance we’ll succeed’

In Regency England, marriage is everything. For young widow Sybella Lovatt, the time has come to find a suitable husband for her sister and ward Lucie. Male suitors are scarce near their Wiltshire estate, so the sisters resolve to head to London in time for The Season to begin.

Once ensconced at the Mayfair home of Lady Godley, Lucie’s godmother, the whirl of balls, parties and promenades can begin. But the job of finding a husband is fraught with rules and tradition. Jostling for attention are the two lords – the charming and irresistible Freddie Lynwood and the preternaturally handsome Valentine Ravenell, their enigmatic neighbour from Shotten Hall, Mr Brabazon, and the dangerous libertine Lord Rockliffe, with whom the brooding Brabazon is locked in deadly rivalry.

Against the backdrop of glamorous Regency England, Sybella must settle Lucie’s future, protect her own reputation, and resist the disreputable rakes determined to seduce the beautiful widow. As the Season ends, will the sisters have found the rarest of things – a suitable marriage with a love story to match? 

Purchase Link

https://amzn.to/3DqXPOI

My Review

The Marriage Season by Jane Dunn is a delightful Regency romance that’s a little different to similar tales I’ve read, for the story is not just of a young woman trying to find a husband but of a widow deciding if she is perhaps prepared to love again, and her small son, James, or Jim as he likes to be called.

As much as Lucie and Sybella are fabulous creations, as are the men they encounter, it is little Jim and his love of ‘prancers’ that truly steals the show, and why not? That said, the story of Lucie and Sybella is delightful and well-told. Yes, it contains the twisting storylines we might expect, but the author has also littered the narrative with some delightful, period-specific words, which make the story really sparkle. And it’s not just young Jim and his roguish words that bring that charm.

I really adored The Marriage Season. Yes, it was fairly obvious what was going to happen, but that’s not truly the charm of the story but rather the detours the reader is taken on along the way, and of course, young Jim and his love of prancers is a true delight.

Meet the author

Jane Dunn is an historian and biographer and the author of seven acclaimed biographies, including Daphne du Maurier and her Sisters and the Sunday Times and NYT bestseller, Elizabeth & Mary: Cousins, Rivals, Queens. She comes to Boldwood with her first fiction outing – a trilogy of novels set in the Regency period, the first of which is to be published in January 2023. She lives in Berkshire with her husband, the linguist Nicholas Ostler.

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Happy publication day to Murder in Chianti by TA Williams #cosymystery #NewRelease

Here’s the blurb

The brand new instalment in bestselling author T. A. Williams’ Armstrong and Oscar cozy mystery series!

A brand new cozy crime series set in gorgeous Tuscany…It’s murder in paradise!

Murder in broad daylight…

When millionaire magnate, Rex Hunter is found with his head bashed in on the eighth hole of his prestigious golf and country club in beautiful Chianti, it’s a clear case of murder. Hunter was rich and successful and the envy of many, so retired DCI Dan Armstrong thinks the case will be a hole in one to solve….

A despised victim…

But as Dan and his trusty sidekick Oscar begin to dig deeper into Hunter’s lifestyle, they discover a man despised by many. A renowned womaniser, ruthless boss and heartless family man, it seems no one is particularly sorry to see Hunter dead. And the list of possible suspects is endless…

A murderer covering their tracks.

Dan is determined to catch this clever killer, but it seems every new lead brings another dead end. Will this be one case Dan and his canine companion won’t solve?

Purchase Link 

https://amzn.to/405IRYR

My Review

Murder in Chianti is the second book in the Armstrong and Oscar series of cosy crime stories set in modern-day Italy.

I thoroughly enjoyed book 1, and book 2 is even better. Now that Dan is living in Tuscany and is known as someone the local police can call on for assistance, the story can focus much more on the mystery to be solved.

And what a mystery this one is. For ages, it seemed as though no resolution could ever be found. Everything Armstrong and Oscar uncovered contradicted something else they already knew, and wow, there are many characters that the reader could suspect of the foul deed. There were several ‘big reveal’ moments, and when the ‘big reveal’ moment finally arrived for real, I was annoyed that I’d not thought of it before. After all, and looking back, the clues were certainly there, but very well concealed.

A thoroughly entertaining and well-plotted cosy mystery. Highly recommended.

My thanks to Netgalley and the publisher for my review copy.

Check out my review for book 1, Murder in Tuscany.

Meet the author

T A Williams is the author of over twenty bestselling romances for HQ and Canelo and is now turning his hand to cosy crime, set in his beloved Italy, for Boldwood. The series will introduce us to retired DCI Armstrong and his labrador Oscar and the first book, entitled Murder in Tuscany, will be published in October 2022. Trevor lives in Devon with his Italian wife.

Connect with T A Williams

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/TrevorWilliamsBooks

Twitter: https://twitter.com/TAWilliamsBooks

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I’m delighted to share my review for Death at Crookham Hall by Michelle Salter #historicalmystery #cosycrime #highlyrecommended

Here’s the blurb

A fatal jump. A missing suffragette. An inexplicable murder.

London, 1920. When she catches news of a big story, reporter Iris Woodmore rushes to the House of Commons. But it’s a place that holds painful memories. In 1914, her mother died there when she fell into the River Thames during a daring suffragette protest. But in the shadow of Big Ben, a waterman tells Iris her mother didn’t fall – she jumped.

Iris discovers that the suffragette with her mother that fateful day has been missing for years, disappearing just after the protest. Desperate to know the truth behind the fatal jump, Iris’s investigation leads her to Crookham Hall, an ancestral home where secrets and lies lead to murder…

Purchase Link

 https://amzn.to/3DuWBSw

My Review

Death at Crookham Hall is an incredibly well-written historical mystery set in 1920, both in London and Walden.

Our intrepid young report, Iris, finding work as a reporter for the local newspaper, begins to discover much she doesn’t know about her mother’s untimely death following a visit to the House of Parliament.

Iris is a great character, modern but not too modern – wearing trousers is fine, but wearing a dress short enough to show her thighs is too shocking – and she finds herself desperate to gather together the unknown strands of her mother’s death.

This is a really well-written story, interspersed with fascinating tit-bits of information both about the suffragettes and their sister organisation, the suffrage societies, and where the focus is very much on the women of their time, from the lady to the laundry-maid. It’s a very compelling tale, on occasion, fast-paced. Everything Iris does brings her some new information, and her role as a reporter means she gets to interview all of the main suspects without the narration feeling forced.

The resolution of the mystery feels particularly well constructed, and I just thoroughly enjoyed the story. A fabulous, well-written, mystery that holds all the promise of much more to come for young Iris and her fellow reporter, as well as the local policeman, Ben, and her friend, Alice, in Walden.

Meet the author

Michelle Salter is a historical crime fiction writer based in northeast Hampshire. Many local locations appear in her mystery novels. She’s also a copywriter and has written features for national magazines. When she’s not writing, Michelle can be found knee-deep in mud at her local nature reserve. She enjoys working with a team of volunteers undertaking conservation activities.

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It’s my turn on the #Payback by Edie Balylis #NewRelease #blogtour #gangland

Here’s the blurb:

Revenge will come at a price…

With his once thriving casino business now in ruins, Seb Stoker is certain about two things: One – he will rebuild bigger and better than ever. And two – someone will pay for torching his club.

But until that day comes, Seb has bigger things to worry about and a business deal that could make or break them all…

Sam Reynold knows Seb is out for revenge, and she’ll do anything she can to help him. But Sam has her own enemies and battles to fight – ones much closer to home.

With pressure mounting for both of them, tensions run high.

And payback will be deadly.

Purchase Link – https://amzn.to/3DK8Xb2

My Review

Payback is the fourth book in the Allegiance series, but the third one I’ve read (I know, I know, I shouldn’t do that, but it’s book 1 I’ve not read, so I feel fairly up to speed now:). Payback picks up immediately after the events of book three (check out my review here) and is a deftly and tightly plotted sequel, taking into account each and every loose end from the previous book.

It’s fast-paced and well-written, ensuring the reader doesn’t have time to catch their breath as it tumbles towards its conclusion, with the main players seemingly unable to stay away from one another, as they intersect and react, sometimes with deadly consequences, in Birmingham of the 1990s.

This is not at all my ‘usual’ read, but Edie is such a fabulous writer, and while her characters are all, in some way or other, flawed or just downright horrible (and there are many of them who are, quite frankly, evil), I find the world she’s created to be hugely entertaining. I rushed to get to the end of the novel to find out how everything was going to play out. Will Payback come or will revenge go ‘wrong?’

Payback is not for those offended by violence or foul language, but it is a very well crafted novel, and I’m really looking forward to book 5, and seeing how the Allegiance series concludes.

Connect with Edie

Edie Baylis a successful self-published author of dark gritty thrillers with violent background settings. She lives in Worcestershire, has a history of owning daft cars and several motorbikes and is licensed to run a pub. She has signed a five-book deal with Boldwood and the first book in her new ganglit series, set in Birmingham, was published in January 2022.

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2022 – A Writing Year in Review

2022 has been a busy writing year. Routine has been important, as has setting firm deadlines and also having some well-deserved time off. I’ve also distracted myself from my constant need to write by taking a few weeks away from the keyboard to work my very part-time job. People think I’m nuts, but the only way to dampen down my mind is to fill it with something else! It helps that I can trust myself to get things done and knuckle down when I need to. I’m adopting the same approach to 2023. I’ve already got the first six months mapped out writing-wise.

So, what have I been writing/editing in 2022?

In January, I re-edited Pagan Warrior and finished writing Wolf of Mercia.

In February, I edited Cragside and started work simultaneously on Warrior of Mercia and The Last Seven while also editing Pagan King. I worked myself hard because I knew what was coming later in the year.

I continued to work on Warrior of Mercia and The Last Seven throughout March, and finished my first draft of Warrior of Mercia in April. This allowed me to start work on my first non-fiction book, due out sometime in 2024 with Pen and Sword books.

During May and June, I had a bit of a hiatus as I was on a wonderful holiday in Orkney and also working my part-time job. But I did complete an edit on Warrior of Mercia during the late May half-term, so I did a bit of writing:)

When I finally got back to my writing in July, I was back to working on The Last Seven, having completed my copyedits for Warrior of Mercia.

Throughout August, I worked on what is now King of Kings, and also devoted the month to my non-fiction project.

During September, I wrote a lot more for King of Kings, having decided to play around with the original book, and began work on Icel 4, which I finished the first draft of in October. I also worked on a short story that precedes the events in King of Kings.

And then, I spent November working on the next book in the Earls of Mercia series, The King’s Brother, while during December, I returned to my non-fiction project, did some editing on Icel 4, now entitled Eagle of Mercia, and worked on my non-fiction book. I also completed an edit on The Lady of Mercia’s Daughter to go with the fabulous new cover.

For all my careful planning, December was a very full-on month, and I worked right up until 6pm on 23rd December because I needed to get some editing done. Next year, I need to be a bit more wary of just how short December can feel.

In terms of words written this year, I don’t keep a strict record, but I would place it at about 500,000. I don’t think it’s my biggest tally to date, but it’s still been very busy. For anyone curious about my writing routine, I’ll be presenting on it for The History Quill masterclass in April 2023. You can find the details on the link. I think a good daily routine is so important for writers, and so I’m going to be talking about how I do what I do:)

I also took the time to attend several conventions, virtually (The History Quill Convention, The HNSNA one-day convention, and the IMC in Leeds – which feeds my non-fiction needs) as well as in-person (The HNS Conference in Durham, and one on the Bamburgh Bones). I tried my hand at Saxon-era embroidery and of course, spent more time making mugs at the local pottery. I might have shared photos of my slightly wonky attempts.

I can’t see that I did a post on my writing throughout 2021, but I have found my 2020 post about my writing during Lockdown.

If you want to see what I was reading during 2022, then check it out here.

2022 – A Reading Year in Review

Wow! I think 2022 has been the year that I read (and listened) to the most books EVER! As I write this, I’m up to 99 titles. I have some ‘holiday’ reading I’m keen to do as well – fingers crossed I make it to the magic 100 for the year (I am including audiobooks in this, and also my own books as I have to read them A LOT, and I’ve also been refreshing a few throughout the year as well.) Even so, I’ve read many, many books, across a number of different genres, but the predominant one has certainly been historical mysteries/cozy crime. I’ve found that this is my ‘happy’ place when trying not to think about my own books. And luckily, Boldwood Books (who publish the Eagle of Mercia Chronicles) have a huge collection of mystery writers, and they’ve autoapproved me on Netgalley, so I’ll never struggle to find something to read in my favourite genre.

As has been pointed out to me by a fellow author, I don’t often award a five star review to books. Indeed, while I do rate and review on Amazon and Goodreads, on the blog, I don’t tend to give a rating – I’m just quirky like that. Those books that I have given a five star to, I’ve given a shout out in the Aspects of History Books of 2022. You can find the link here – (of course, these are all historical fiction books) and The Capsarius, Valentia, Twelve Nights and The Maids of Biddenden made it onto that list (and yes, these are all books I was lucky enough to be asked to review on the blog – but I never automatically give a 5 star review just because of that). I also want to add Domitian by SJA Turney as well. I couldn’t include two of his books on Aspecs of History but Domitian is wonderful, just my sort of Roman story with plenty of politics, intrigue, and some fabulous characters.

Three of these books are indie-published, and I can assure you all, that there’s a huge amount of amazing indie stuff out there. Don’t believe me, try one of these titles:)

I’ve also treated myself to a bit of comedy this year. I’ve been listening to the Terry Pratchett Discworld audio books (the new and the original recordings – but not the abridged versions) and it’s reminded me of how much I love a funny book, and so, here are my favourite comedies of the year. Simon Whaley’s Foraging for Murder, Dead in Tune by Stephanie Dagg and Crazy for You by Domhnall O’Donoghue and Unseen Academicals by Terry Pratchett, which I’ve listened to twice!

In terms of cozy crime, I’ve found a few new series of which I’m certainly going to read more. Catherine Coles new 1940s historical mystery series, TA Williams‘ Armstrong and Oscar cosy series, Debbie Young’s St Brides Series, and Helen Golden’s Right Royal Cozy Investigations.

In terms of books set in ‘my’ time period, I’ve been reading Matthew Harffy, SJA Turney or maybe it’s a Simon Turney one (it’s the same author, in case you were confused), Peter Gibbons, Christopher Cervasco, Donovan Cook, Eric Schumacher, Paula De Fougerolles, Richard Cullen, and still historical but a little before and after, Robert M Kidd, Elizabeth R Andersen, Mark Knowles, Dan Jones and Kate Shanahan.

I’ve also dipped my toe into a few dual-timeline novels. As you might expect, my interest is always much more in the historical aspect of the story and not the modern settings, but they were a bit of fun when I was on holiday. The Witches Tree and The Storm Girl.

I’ve only read one fantasy book in 2022, which surprises me (aside from Discworld), but Mark Lawrence is one of my all-time favourite authors, and I will always read his books. The sneaky toad has a theme running through them all and I love it.

I’ve also read surprisingly few non-fiction books, in their entirety. I’ve been working on my non-fiction book and that’s meant a lot of dipping in and out of books I’ve already read. But, the non-fiction books I’ve read have been excellent, Michael Wood’s 40th anniversary of In Search of The Dark Ages, reviews for Aspects of History, Winter in the World by Eleanor Parker, also reviewed for Aspects of History and I also read my first ever writing guide.

And an entirely new genre for me, but one I was strangely drawn to for the location, which is close to where I grew up – a bit of Gangland.

I hope you’ve enjoyed reading my reviews on the blog. And I’d like to that the publishers that let me read advanced copies, and also, all the writers I’ve mentioned who’ve taken the time to craft these novels so that I can devour them. Now, I need to get back to my reading to make sure I hit that magic 100!

Today, I’m excited to share my review for the BRAND NEW book in the St Bride’s series, Wicked Whispers at St Bride’s by Debbie Young #blogtour

Here’s the blurb:

Gemma Lamb is ready for an uneventful term at St Bride’s, she’s had enough of dastardly deeds and sinister strangers.

However, she’s barely back at school before:

  • Unlucky in love Oriana is sneaking around at odd hours
  • Handsome Joe is keeping secrets
  • Militant Mavis feels a scandal is brewing

It’s all a bit much, but when a stranger appears Gemma thinks she’s had enough. But this stranger isn’t so sinister, instead he looks rather too familiar. If Gemma can’t get him away from the school the whispers and scandal his presence could unleash may just close St Bride’s doors for good.

Purchase Link https://amzn.to/3Surw7g

My Review

The St Bride’s books are rapidly becoming one of my favourite series.

Wicked Whispers at St Bride’s takes place during the half term after the Christmas holidays. While the girls are all learning how to play games with the teachers, Cluedo, Chess, and a touch of poker, Gemma finds herself wondering what’s going on between Joe and Oriana, which leads her to make a rather impromptu decision when a stranger appears at the doors of St Bride’s.

What follows is a series of misunderstandings, a somewhat unexpected fire alarm, and not one, not two, not three, but four trips out for afternoon tea, during which two more mysteries are solved.

I really do enjoy this series featuring the staff and students of St Bride’s. They’re just the right sort of cosy to fill a couple of hours with feel-good reading. I’m hoping there’ll be a book 4 soon.

Meet the Author

Debbie Young is the much-loved author of the Sophie Sayers and St Brides cosy crime mysteries. She lives in a Cotswold village where she runs the local literary festival, and has worked at Westonbirt School, both of which provide inspiration for her writing. She is bringing both her series to Boldwood in a 13-book contract. They will be publishing several new titles in each series and republishing the backlist, starting in September 2022.

Debbie Young

Connect with Debbie  

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Bookbub profile: https://www.bookbub.com/authors/debbie-young

Follow the St Bride’s blog tour with Rachel’s Random Resources

Today I’m delighted to be taking part in the blog tour for a new historical mystery, Chaos at Carnegie Hall by Kelly Oliver #blogtour #BoldwoodBooks

Here’s the blurb:

Agatha Christie meets Downton Abbey in the Fiona Figg and Kitty Lane Mystery series opener.

Can Fiona catch a killer and find a decent cup of tea before her mustache wax melts?

1917. New York.

Notorious spy, Fredrick Fredricks, has invited Fiona to Carnegie Hall to hear a famous soprano. It’s an opportunity the War Office can’t turn down. Fiona and Clifford are soon on their way, but not before Fiona is saddled with chaperon duties for Captain Hall’s niece. Is Fiona a spy or a glorified babysitter?

From the minute Fiona meets the soprano aboard the RMS Adriatic it’s treble on the high C’s. Fiona sees something—or someone—thrown overboard, and then she overhears a chemist plotting in German with one of her own countrymen!

And the trouble doesn’t stop when they disembark. Soon Fiona is doing time with a group of suffragettes and investigating America’s most impressive inventor Thomas Edison.

When her number one suspect turns up dead at the opera and Fredrick Fredricks is caught red-handed, it looks like it’s finally curtains for the notorious spy.

But all the evidence points to his innocence. Will Fiona change her tune and clear her nemesis’ name? Or will she do her duty? And just what is she going to do with the pesky Kitty Lane? Not to mention swoon-worthy Archie Somersby . . .

If Fiona’s going to come out on top, she’s going to have to make the most difficult decision of her life: the choice between her head and her heart.

Purchase Link – https://amzn.to/3dMIUoT

My Review

Chaos at Carnegie Hall is a cosy historical mystery set in London, onboard a transatlantic ship during its crossing and also in New York in November 1917. We’re introduced to Fiona Figg, an enterprising young woman, a spy if you would, who is happy to don male costumes to get the answers she seeks.

I did find the beginning of the book a little confusing, but then I discovered why, for Fiona Figg isn’t a new literary creation, but this is her in a new series, complete with references to previous exploits. Once I realised this, I was flying. The backstory isn’t overly relevant, and it adds a wonderful layer of depth to the character. Fiona Figg is not new to this jig, and she knows what she’s about, despite all the men in her life trying to make it more difficult for her.

This story is bursting with historical details – the Suffragettes, events at Carnegie Hall, ‘real’ historical characters, and of course, yellow cabs – which our fine main character informs us makes it much easier to spot a cab in the snowy November conditions she’s enduring. I really enjoyed the way the story is woven around events that actually happened.

The mystery builds really well, and the attendant sidekicks of Clifford, Kitty and, of course, Poppy, the dog, really add to the ongoing mystery.

A thoroughly enjoyable historical mystery recommended for fans of the genre and with just a smidge more historical detail than some other cosy mysteries, which makes it all the more appealing to me.

Meet the Author

Kelly Oliver is the award-winning, bestselling author of three mysteries series: The Jessica James Mysteries, The Pet Detective Mysteries, and the historical cozies The Fiona Figg Mysteries, set in WW1. She is also the Distinguished Professor of Philosophy at Vanderbilt University and lives in Nashville, Tennessee. She is bringing new titles in the Fiona Figg series to Boldwood, the first of which, Chaos in Carnegie Hall, will be published in November 2022.

Connect with Kelly

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/kellyoliverauthor  

Twitter: https://twitter.com/kellyoliverbook  

Bookbub profile: https://www.bookbub.com/authors/kelly-oliver

Follow the Chaos at Carnegie Hall blog tour with Rachel’s Random Resources

Today, I’m reviewing the second book in Debbie Young’s fabulous St Bride’s cozy mystery series, Sinister Stranger at St Bride’s #blogtour

Here’s the blurb:

When an American stranger turns up claiming to be the rightful owner of the school’s magnificent country estate it could spell trouble for everyone at St Bride’s . . .

No one can believe it when the headmistress, Hairnet, instantly accepts the stranger’s claim, not:

  • the put-upon Bursar, ousted from his cosy estate cottage by the stranger
  • the enigmatic Max Security, raring to engage in a spot of espionage
  • the sensible Judith Gosling, who knows more about Lord Bunting than she’s letting on
  • the irrepressible Gemma Lamb, determined to keep the school open

Only fickle maths teacher Oriana Bliss isn’t suspicious of the stranger, after all she can just marry him and secure St Bride’s future forever. That’s if inventive pranks by the girls – and the school cat – don’t drive him away first.

Who will nab the stranger first? Oriana with the parson’s noose? Gemma with sinister secrets? Or could this be the end of St Bride’s?

Purchase Link – https://amzn.to/3dBLZZ1

My Review

Sinister Stranger at St Bride’s is a fabulous sequel to Dastardly Deeds, and the villain of the piece, Earl, is sure to almost rouse hatred on a scale of the evil Umbridge in the Harry Potter books.

I love the feel of this series. As someone who did indeed read all the boarding school books as a child, this is a welcome ‘grown-up’ tonic to those long ago days:)

The story for book 2 is, I feel, stronger than for the first book in the series. The answers aren’t quite so easy to fall into the lap of Gemma Lamb, and Max Security has a bigger starring role, as do some of the girls attending the school. But don’t fear, Joe and Oriana, as well as McPhee do still have important roles to play.

I’ll be sharing my review for book 3 on 21st November 2022.

Meet the author

Debbie Young is the much-loved author of the Sophie Sayers and St Brides cosy crime mysteries. She lives in a Cotswold village where she runs the local literary festival, and has worked at Westonbirt School, both of which provide inspiration for her writing. She is bringing both her series to Boldwood in a 13-book contract. They will be publishing several new titles in each series and republishing the backlist, starting in September 2022.

Connect with Debbie

Facebook https://www.facebook.com/AuthorDebbieYoung

Twitter https://twitter.com/DebbieYoungBN

Instagram https://www.instagram.com/debbieyoungauthor/  

Newsletter Sign Up: https://bit.ly/DebbieYoungNews

Bookbub profile: https://www.bookbub.com/authors/debbie-young

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