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Sebastian Foxley series Book 3
The Colour of Cold Blood is the third in the Sebastian Foxley series by Toni Mount, and the second full-length novel.
This time, Seb and his older brother Jude are trying hard to run their scrivener’s shop and live a normal life. Seb is trying to enjoy married life with Emily, whom he wed in the preceding novella, The Colour of Gold.
Seb is dealing with daily medieval life and its troubles - running his shop, managing rambunctious apprentices, making ends meet even though the local clergy keep asking for fancy psalters for free. There’s also the small problem of someone murdering local prostitutes, and Seb’s journeyman, Gabe, is arrested for heresy on top of it.
I found this to be a quick read, full of nice nuances of medieval London life. It was a tad slow to get into the actual plot of the two separate mysteries, but I enjoyed the detail enough that it didn’t bother me. Other readers who want more action right off the bat might find it a bit slow going. But the plot involving the murders of the prostitutes is intriguing, and presents Seb with a very interesting problem - how can he teach Rose, a prostitute he met and befriended (no, really) how to read and better her situation in life without Emily thinking the wrong thing? And his plan to rescue Gabe from Newgate and a heretic’s execution is fun, though it perhaps requires a little more suspension of disbelief than I think most readers can likely muster.
One thing that confounded me, however, was Emily herself. I fully admit that I haven’t read the first book of the series. I read the novella, which was my introduction to the series and the characters. Unless Emily was very different in the first book, she seems to have undergone a sea change from the novella to this novel. In the novella, she was sweet but had a good deal of spark and seemed the sort who wouldn’t be shy to speak up for herself. In ...Cold Blood, she was an absolute shrew throughout. The change was jarring, as was another plot point involving her, which I will not discuss so as to avoid spoilers, but which seemed to come out of the blue. Seb seemed consistent and the little apprentice boys, especially Jack, were thoroughly developed, but some of the other characters seemed inconsistent even within the story.
Overall, while I enjoyed the novel in general, there were a few quibbles. If you are looking for a quick airplane read, without the necessity of deeper characters and plot development this would do nicely to while away a few hours.
© Kristen McQuinn
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