Welcome to today’s stop on the blog tour for Rags of Time by Michael Ward, the first in a series of historical mysteries set in 17th century London. My thanks to Anne at Random Things Tours for inviting me to take part in the tour and to the author for my digital review copy.
About the Book
London, 1639. Spice merchant Thomas Tallant returns from India to find his city in turmoil – overcrowded, ravaged by crime and seething with sedition. A bitter struggle is brewing between King Charles I and Parliament as England slides into civil war.
A wealthy merchant is savagely killed; then his partner plunges to his death in the Tallant household. Suspicion falls on Tom, who soon finds himself being sucked into London’s turbulence. As he struggles to clear his name, he becomes entranced by the enigmatic Elizabeth Seymour, whose passion for astronomy and mathematics is matched only by her addiction to the gaming tables. Can her brilliance untangle the web of deceit that threatens to drag Tom under?
Format: ebook (318 pages) Publisher: Sharpe Books
Publication date: 23rd June 2020 Genre: Historical fiction, crime, mystery
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Rags of Time is a historical murder mystery set during the latter part of the reign of Charles I. Spice merchant Thomas Tallant is forced to turn investigator when he is implicated in the mysterious deaths of two wealthy businessmen who just happen to be prominent figures in the rival wool trade.
The author does a great job of conjuring up the sights, sounds and smells of 17th century London: its bustling, crowded streets full of traders selling their wares; the pungent aromas of brewing, tanning and other industries; the narrow, tenement-lined alleyways where trade of an entirely different nature takes place.
Thomas’s investigations take place against the backdrop of a time of unrest as relations between King and Parliament deteriorate and rumours of Papist plots abound. London is a city driven by fear. Apprentices are rioting on the streets, seditious pamphlets are circulating and war with the Scots is looming. “King or Parliament? King or Parliament? It’s time to choose” is the oft-heard cry.
Sir Ralph, Thomas’s father, performs the role of keeping the reader informed of wider events both at home and abroad. Meanwhile, Thomas finds himself drawn into the murky world of spies and informers, forced to make risky bargains to gain the information he needs to clear his name and restore his family’s reputation. However, he’s not the only one interested in getting to the bottom of the two deaths.
The spirited, pipe-smoking Elizabeth Seymour makes a great addition to the cast of characters. She’s a woman out of her time in many respects with an interest in astronomy, mathematics and the latest scientific theories. (Fast forward to the 1940s and she might well have been employed at Bletchley Park.) As well as knowing her poetry and loving the theatre, she, like Thomas, has experienced the thrill – and the consequences – of financial speculation. Cue the flowering of an instant mutual attraction between the pair.
The trade rivalry between the different merchant fraternities adds a sprinkling of spice to the mix, meaning there is no shortage of possible suspects and motives. But just what caused the two men’s deaths – was it the work of demons or of human hand? I’m pleased to say it’s Elizabeth’s logical mind that helps to provide the first key to unlocking the mystery.
Rags of Time is a well-crafted historical mystery with a satisfyingly intricate plot and plenty of period detail. I, for one, look forward to reading more of the adventures of Thomas Tallant.
In three words: Lively, intriguing, mystery
Try something similar: A Murderous Affair by Jonathan Digby
About the Author
Writing has been central to Mike Ward’s professional life. On graduating from university he became a journalist, working in newspapers and for the BBC. He then went into journalism education, teaching and researching journalism practice before becoming head of the UK’s prestigious Journalism School at UCLan. For the last eight years he has run his own content creation company.
Rags of Time is Mike’s debut novel. Its sequel is due to be published late in 2020.
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