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==Synopsis of the book:==
The year is 1483 and in England there is concern as the King Edward IV has just died, leaving his twelve year old son Edward to take the thrown. This worries Roger the Chapman as he knows a child is open to influence from interested parties some of who may have their own agendas. However what concerns him more when he returns to his Bristol home, is his wife and Children are not there are clearly they have not been for some time. He has been away helping the Duke of Gloucester and he quickly discovers that his wife has fled to London when an old acquaintance of Roger's turns up at their door claiming she had his baby last year.
Roger is shocked by this lie and he decides he must follow her to London and try and bring her and the children back home. He discovers she has some distant relatives in called the Godsloves near Keynsham Abbey who she is staying with. When he finally gets there, he finds she is very pleased to see him and agreed the woman has lied and she should not have left their home. However she is also very keen for Roger to help the Godslove family because Roger has a knack of solving mysteries and in the past year two members of the family have been killed in various accidents while others have been poisoned and suffered illnesses. He reluctantly agrees to help after Celia Godslove mysteriously disappears from their garden leaving the remaining family members distraught.
==My thoughts on this novel:==
I found this a very interesting and very enjoyable mystery. Which I would argue is both a surprise and the be expected. To be expected because I love a good mystery as I love crime thrillers. But, it is a surprise also because as a rule I do not like period stories. I find it hard to follow old English and I usually find these stories hard to relate to or even to enjoy, because from my experience they are written from the upper classes perspective or about them, where as I would prefer to hear about the lower classes and their struggles.
That said I do think Kate Sedley writes an amazing story, how she brings the 15 century alive really impresses me. This is not the first story in this series I have read and while there are now 21 in this popular series I have probably read and enjoyed five of them. And unlike most authors this English writer has religiously stuck to this one series rather than try others styles, periods or main characters. This book is one of her latest having been published in 2010.
I selected this novel because while I wanted a crime story I wanted something a bit different and as I have not read one of these books for about a year I thought it was high time I reacquainted myself with her works. There were several in the series available and I choose this one because I liked the very short but interesting summary of the story on the back cover. It was just one short paragraph long but it told how Roger had agreed to help the Godslove family and find out who was behind the unfortunate incidents affecting the family. This sounded good to me and I am a sucker for a good mystery.
If I have a criticism of these books it is that Roger seems to get involves in mysterious affecting the ruling classes. Which in itself is not a problem but I do find it hard to remember all the different Lords and Sirs the author brings into the story. I much prefer it when they are normal people with normal problems that need solving. As was the case in this story. Although the story did as a sub plot deal with Roger overhearing a plot against the new king, but to my relief he did not get involved in this and for my money the story was better as a result of it.
The story did not have either a prologue or an epilogue. A prologue may have been handy to understand where Roger the Chapman had been because I had not read the previous book it took me a little while to understand why it was Roger had not been home for some months. However I quickly picked up the pace and started to enjoy the author's relaxed and enjoyable writing style. I felt the story had a real direction and purpose about it and I just love to learn how tough life was back then for the average person.
The story had a really good feel to it and I really enjoyed learning more about Roger's family, while he set about trying to solve the mystery. It was cleverly written and their were plenty of candidates that could have wish harm on the Godslove family. The only thing I thought the author could have improved was she concentrated on one suspect at a time and then Roger eliminated them from the investigation. I would have preferred to have all the suspects disclosed earlier on and then Roger whittle them down. Because it appeared as soon as he eliminated one another appeared.
I found the story to be very down to earth and easy to relate to, I think this is helped because Roger is just a peddler who tries and sells his stuff and who because of his inquisitive and clever mind is called upon to solve mysteries for people. From the story I had a real feeling I was back in the dirty London of 1483, because of her excellent descriptions of not only the characters but the scenes in which Roger was involved. There was so much detail in the author's writing I loved the level of detail incorporated into it.
The story was rich in mystery throughout and I did not have a clue what the answers where until it was all explained at the very end. With the concluding chapters being excellent told and I really liked the way the solutions was reached. Yes it probably could have been expanded as one or two things about it I was not totally convinced by. But what I have to remember was it was a long time ago and things were done quite differently then. And while it all made sense it still slightly disappointed me.
Roger the Chapman was the books and indeed the series main character. I find him a wonderful character because he is so down to earth. He has very little and he still is happy with his lot. I like the way he goes about solving mysteries and particularly in this story I enjoyed the way he interacted with his family and those of his wife's family. The good thing about these stories in my opinion is Roger and other characters in the story speak in the main in proper English so you understand immediately what they are saying not cockney or old English. For me there is nothing more annoying than having to read the same sentence several times before you understand what the character is saying.
The stories length for me was about right to tell an intriguing yarn. The level of detail was just about right because it allowed me to question what was happening and get answers from this. It also brought with it mystery involving several of the characters as only certain information was shared with the reader and Roger needed to try and find the answers.
This is certainly a series I would recommend as I think the author has a really good understanding of what it was like to live in these very hard times. For me I will certainly carry on working my way through this very interesting series as I find learning more about this time fascinating because the author has such a great understanding of the most intimate details of life in the fifteenth century.
I thought this was a very good suspense story and one I would recommend to anyone interested in either historical stories of mysteries. The author is able to really capture what it was like to be living back then and the tough way of life it was for the lower classes to survive. In Roger the Chapman I think there is an excellent leach character and I love the way he goes about trying to solve the mysteries he is asked to solve.
Publisher: Severn House
ISBN-13: 978- 1847512277
Year first published: 2010
Thanks for reading my review
This review is published under my user name on both Ciao and Dooyoo
© CPTDANIELS January 2013.