Review: Murder by Misrule, by Anna Castle

About the book, Murder by Misrule Murder by Misrule

Publication Date: June 8, 2014
Formats: Ebook, Paperback
A Kirkus Indie Books of the Month Selection for July.

Francis Bacon is charged with investigating the murder of a fellow barrister at Gray’s Inn. He recruits his unwanted protege Thomas Clarady to do the tiresome legwork. The son of a privateer, Clarady will do anything to climb the Elizabethan social ladder. Bacon’s powerful uncle Lord Burghley suspects Catholic conspirators of the crime, but other motives quickly emerge. Rival barristers contend for the murdered man’s legal honors and wealthy clients. Highly-placed courtiers are implicated as the investigation reaches from Whitehall to the London streets. Bacon does the thinking; Clarady does the fencing. Everyone has something up his pinked and padded sleeve. Even the brilliant Francis Bacon is at a loss and in danger until he sees through the disguises of the season of Misrule.

About The Francis Bacon Mystery Series

This series of historical mysteries features the philosopher-statesman Francis Bacon as a sleuth and spymaster. Since Francis prefers the comfort of his own chambers, like his spiritual descendent Nero Wolfe, he sends his pupil, the handsome young Thomas Clarady, out to gather information. Tom loves the work, not least because he meets so many interesting people, like Lord Burghley, Sir Walter Raleigh, and Christopher Marlowe. Murder by Misrule is the first book in the series.

Buy, read, and discuss Murder by Misrule

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About the author, Anna Castle Anna Castle

Anna Castle has been a waitress, software engineer, documentary linguist, college professor, and digital archivist. Historical fiction combines her lifelong love of stories and learning. She physically resides in Austin, Texas, and mentally counts herself a queen of infinite space.

Connect with Anna

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My Thoughts

It would never have occurred to me to cast Francis Bacon as the lead in a mystery. I mean, I’m reasonably familiar with his place in history, and I spent more than one summer doing Shakespeare camp when I was in high school (yes, there IS such a thing), but still, it takes a very special author to come up with a premise like this one.

Anna Castle is clearly a very special author, because not only did she come up with the premise, she makes it work. No, not work, she makes it sing, dance, and speak in perfect Latin quips alternating with iambic pentameter. Her portrayal of Francis Bacon may not be identical to the way he’s presented in history classes, but that’s okay, because he’s totally believable as a rather delicate intellectual who relies on his minion (assistant) to do the heavy lifting – or fencing, as the case may be.

Written in contemporary language, Murder by Misrule is both a glimpse into the life of those who were part of the Inns at Court (more like dorms than our modern perception of an inn) and a rollicking adventure centering around a murder. There’s political intrigue, career advancement, and, of course, the season of Misrule to contend with.

Promotional materials compare Castle’s version of Francis Bacon to Nero Wolfe. As someone who cut her mystery-loving teeth on the latter, I have to say that while I see the resemblance, I think Bacon is a richer character, and the world he inhabits, and those he shares it with, all feel more real to me than Rex Stout’s version of New York ever did, and for me, his era was also an historical period.

If you want a great story, full of amazing characters, and good dose of history (with maybe a little bit of embellishment) you simply must read Murder by Misrule. You won’t be sorry.

Goes well with a rainy day, a hearty stew, brown bread, and a good stout.

Murder by Misrule

This review is part of a blog tour organized by Historical Fiction Virtual Book Tours, who provided me with an ARC of the book so I could review it impartially. For more information, or the complete list of tour stops, click HERE.

Review: The Runaway Highlander by R.L. Syme

About the book, The Runaway Highlander

The Runaway Highlander

Publication Date: April 15, 2014
Formats: eBook, Paperback
Series: The Highland Renegades

Anne de Cheyne has a choice. She can play the dutiful daughter and allow her mother to sell her to a greasy English sheriff, or she can take control of her own life and find her own match. After a frightening run-in with her promised husband reveals a dark secret, she makes a desperate choice. Flight.

Aedan Donne needs easy money and no-questions-asked. When Milene de Cheyne offers him enough to pay all debts, requests complete silence, and pays half up front, just for a simple recovery, he can’t believe his luck… until he meets his mark. Anne’s beauty and passion ignite something Aedan can’t ignore, even as she leaves him in the dust. Suddenly, he finds himself wanting to capture the runaway Highland lady for himself.

The Highland Renegades Series

Book One: The Outcast Highlander
Book Two: The Runaway Highlander
Book Three: The Pirate Highlander — Coming Soon!

Buy the book, and start enjoying the romantic adventure of The Runaway Highlander

Amazon UK | Amazon US | Barnes & Noble | CreateSpace

About the author, R. L. Syme

R.L. Syme

R.L. Syme works at a youth theatre, teaching kids performing arts and musical performance classes/camps when she’s not writing. Otherwise, she’s putting her Seminary degree to good use writing romance novels. Let not all those systematic theology classes go to waste…

Connect with R.L. Syme

Website | Blog | Facebook | Twitter | Pinterest

My Thoughts

I have a thing for men in kilts. There, I’ve admitted it. Now, I realize that Aedon Donne, the ‘hero’ of this novel does not likely wear a kilt, as he’s supposed to be working for the English king, and all, but in my head, every move is accompanied by a healthy dose of swirling tartan and well-muscled legs, and if you asked protagonist Anne de Cheyne, I’m pretty sure she’d agree with me.

I make fun, but the truth is that this book is a deliciously gritty, saucy romantic adventure of the kind that brings to mind old Eroll Flynn movies, if he’d made Highlander films instead of playing pirates all the time. Rooted in history, but not enslaved to it, this story has strong women, brave men, and a perfect balance of justice and romance.

The dialogue never seems stilted, as can happen in period pieces, and the characters never seem too contemporary, either. I haven’t read the first novel in this series, but if The Runaway Highlander is anything to go by, it must be a fantastic, satisfying read.

A little romance now and then is a good thing. When it’s written as well as R.L. Syme has written her books, it’s a truly excellent thing.

Goes well with anything but haggis. (Seriously, I wanted hearty stew and fresh brown bread when I was reading this.)

The Runaway Highlander

Virtual Book Tour Schedule

Wednesday, May 14
Spotlight & Giveaway at Passages to the Past

Thursday, May 15
Review at Bibliotica

Monday, May 19
Guest Post & Giveaway at Susan Heim on Writing

Tuesday, May 20
Review at A Bookish Girl (The Outcast Highlander)

Wednesday, May 21
Review at A Bookish Girl (The Runaway Highlander)

Thursday, May 22
Interview & Giveaway at A Bookish Girl

Friday, May 23
Guest Post at Layered Pages

Monday, May 26
Review at My Not So Vacant Bookshelf

Tuesday, May 27
Review at So Many Books, So Little Time

Thursday, May 29
Guest Post at Historical Fiction Connection

Friday, May 30
Review at Lily Pond Reads
Review at From the TBR Pile

Monday, June 2
Review at The Mad Reviewer
Review at Bibliophilia, Please

Tuesday, June 3
Review at The Most Happy Reader

Wednesday, June 4
Interview at The Most Happy Reader

Thursday, June 5
Review at A Bibliotaph’s Reviews

Friday, June 6
Review at Historical Fiction Obsession

Monday, June 9
Review at Svetlana’s Reads and Views

Wednesday, June 11
Review at Fic Central

Thursday, June 12
Review at Reviews by Molly
Interview at Books and Benches

Friday, June 13
Review & Giveaway at To Read or Not to Read