Saturday, September 24, 2011
A Famine of Horses A Review
Greeting my friends and Houselings having started this theme of book reviews I thought we’d look at a spread of contemporary writers who have produced some good pieces of fiction and non-fiction in the Tudor Period. Today it is the turn of PF Chisholm, whom for those of you who don’t already know is Patricia Finney and to be blunt she is an excellent writer of historical fiction. Without being reduced to base grovelling and sycophancy, it is one of my aspirations that eventually my Red Ned Tuor Mysteries will be favourabley compared with her excellent Cary series. So as you see I've got a pretty high target to aim for.
A Famine of Horses: A Sir Robert Carey Mystery by P.F. Chisholm
My rating: 5 of 5 stars
It is now Oh Gods some fifteen years since I first came across the first of PF Chisholm's Sir Robert Carey novels set in the politically complex Tudor England of the 1590s’. Queen Elizabeth’s fleet has beaten back the famed Armada and that threat at least for time has diminished and the kingdom basks in relative peace. However the northern border with Scotland it is not so quiet. Murder, cattle reiving and tower burning are all too common occurrences. So one more dead body found in the Debatable Lands shouldn’t make that much difference, except when it’s a Graham, and the head of that surname has a nasty reputation for vengeance. In to this cauldron of trouble steps Sir Robert Carey newly appointed Deputy Warden of the Western Marches. What Sergeant Dodd of the Carlisle garrison thinks of his new commander probably shouldn’t be put in print, but between them Cary and Dodd they have to solve two mysteries the ill timed murder of a Graham and the sudden ‘Famine of Horses of the title’. Alright that hasn’t given away anything that isn’t apparent from a quick view of the back cover blurb. As to the quality of the story, in short it is superb. PF Chisholm has a fine grasp of the character’s traits, they are all so very human and compelling. Sergeant Dodd for one is the epitome of the dour northern with a wry sense of humour and an intelligence that shouldn’t be underrated. As for Cary he comes with a very interesting history, he has to head north to escape his London creditors and recoup the fortune he doesn’t have. I’m not give much away in saying that his father Lord Hunsdon is the son of Mary Boleyn and that it is said he bore an uncanny resemblance to Henry VIII. That hint alone should wet your interest. The difficulties and scrapes Robert Carey gets into and his ahh unique ‘solutions’ very much carry the tale along to its not quite expected conclusion. In it all PF Chisholm has worked very hard to recreate the Borders region of the 1590’s as a living breathing culture alive with plots, mischief and mayhem. She hasn’t stretched facts or come up with wildly improbable story lines like some period writers. Instead this is honestly engaging with a very dry sense of humour. Most of all it’s a damned enjoyable romp for anyone who likes historical fiction. And yes it is worth every one of the five stars I gave it!
The Liberties of London
The Queen's Oranges
View all my reviews