Monday, 10 August 2020

A Discovering Diamonds Review of Rags of Time by Michael Ward

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17th century

Rags of Time opens in the crowded, bustling city of London in 1639. Thomas Tallant, son of a well-to-do merchant Sir Ralph Tallant, has returned from India with a cargo of valuable spices. There is no shore leave for Thomas, however. These are turbulent, dangerous times and before he can even get his land legs, Thomas is thrown into a murder inquiry, supposedly due to his knowledge of falconry. This death is followed by another wealthy merchant tumbling headlong down a flight of stairs claiming he was being attacked by demons. Then Thomas finds himself under suspicion of murder.

The crimes at the centre of this story are cleverly woven into the zeitgeist of the moment along with the problems facing city merchants, all of which relates back to the strife between King and Parliament, between the Old Religion, Protestantism and the rise of Puritanism.

The murder mystery is ingenious, but it has to be said that the author uses some rather long-winded, laden dialogue to convey the historical background. Michael Ward knows his epoch inside out and is anxious to share its detail: it is a complex period, nothing at the time was as clear cut as the manner in which the later Civil War is often presented. Having said that, Ward’s evocative description of the city and its inhabitants, the sights and smells of the teeming Thames basin brings the story to life. The inclusion of some famous and infamous real people such as the herbalist Thomas Culpeper and Henry Jermyn, Queen Henrietta Maria’s confidant, is an additional bonus.

Running alongside the mystery and intrigue, the political ins and outs, there is a plausible and charming love story as Thomas becomes enthralled by a highly intelligent, pipe-smoking young woman, who is also addicted to gambling. Can her smart thinking and mathematical mind solve the mystery and save Thomas from the gallows, though?

Rags of Time is a worthwhile and enjoyable read, and the ‘who-dunnit’ element should keep you guessing to the end. This is the first in a historical crime series and I look forward to reading the next.

Reviewed for Discovering Diamonds 

© John Darling
 e-version reviewed

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Sunday, 9 August 2020

Guest Spot - Karen Heenan

Karen Heenan


Henry VIII. Tyrant. Husband. Music Lover?

Ten-year-old Bess has the voice of an angel - or so King Henry declares when he buys her from her father. 

As a member of the royal minstrels, Bess comes of age in the decadent Tudor court, where one false note could send her back to her old life of poverty.

In a world where the stakes are always high, where politics, heartbreak, and disease threaten everyone from the king to the lowliest musician, Bess has one constant: Tom, her first and dearest friend. But when she strains against the restrictions of court life, will she find that constancy has its limits?  

About Karen:
Karen Heenan was born and raised in Philadelphia. She fell in love with books and stories before she could read, and has wanted to write for nearly as long. After far too many years in a cubicle, she set herself free to follow her dreams – which include gardening, sewing, traveling and, of course, lots of writing.

She lives in Lansdowne, PA, not far from Philadelphia, with two cats and a very patient husband. Her second Tudor book, A Wider World, will be published in April, 2021, and she is currently hard at work on the next book.  

New cover due out in September


Click HERE to find  Karen on Discovering Diamonds

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