Blog Tour/Book Review: The Angel’s Mark by S. W. Perry

The Angels Mark Blog Tour poster

I’m delighted to be hosting today’s stop on the blog tour for historical crime novel, The Angel’s Mark by S. W. Perry.  Many thanks to Anne Cater at Random Things Tours for inviting me to participate in the tour.

The Angel's MarkAbout the Book

LONDON, 1590. Queen Elizabeth I’s control over her kingdom is wavering. Amidst a tumultuous backdrop of Spanish plotters, Catholic heretics and foreign wars threatening the country’s fragile stability, the body of a small boy is found in the City of London, with strange marks that no one can explain.

When idealistic physician Nicholas Shelby finds another body displaying the same marks only days later, he becomes convinced that a killer is at work, preying on the weak and destitute of London.

Determined to find out who is behind these terrible murders, Nicholas is joined in his investigations by Bianca, a spirited tavern keeper. But when their inquiries lead them to the fearsome attentions of the powerful Robert Cecil, Nicholas is forced into playing to Cecil’s agenda, and becoming a spy…

As more bodies are discovered, the pair find themselves caught in the middle of a sinister plot. With the killer still at large, and Bianca in terrible danger, Nicholas’s choice seems impossible – to save Bianca, or save himself…

Praise for The Angel’s Mark

‘A gorgeous book – rich, intelligent and dark in equal measure. It immerses you in the late 16th century and leaves you wrung out with terror. This is historical fiction at its most sumptuous.’ Rory Clements, author of Corpus, Nucleus and the John Shakespeare series

‘Wonderful! Beautiful writing, and Perry’s Elizabethan London is so skilfully evoked, so real that one can almost smell it.’ Giles Kristian, historical fiction author

‘The Angel’s Mark has the pace of a thriller… S.W. Perry is a welcome addition to the ranks of historical crime novelists.’ Simon Brett, crime novelist

Format: Hardcover, ebook (424 pp.)    Publisher: Corvus
Published: 6th September 2018            Genre: Historical Fiction, Historical Crime

Purchase Links*  ǀ  ǀ (supporting UK bookshops)
*links provided for convenience, not as part of any affiliate programme

Find The Angel’s Mark on Goodreads

My Review

When a book comes with a glowing recommendation from a respected author of historical fiction like Rory Clements (whose ‘John Shakespeare’ series I absolutely love by the way), you have a real sense of expectation as you turn the first few pages.  I’m happy to say that in the case of The Angel’s Mark those first few pages – and all the pages after that, as it happens – didn’t disappoint.

As other writers of historical fiction have discovered, the latter part of the 16th century is a promising period in which to set a historical crime novel.  Fear of the plague, of plots to overthrow the Queen as well as concerns about the succession and the threat of possible invasion have created an atmosphere of suspicion in Elizabethan England.   It’s a time when information, in the form of intelligence gathered by a network of spies and informers, has become a valuable commodity.    It’s also a time when discoveries in science and medicine are coming into conflict with religious belief.

Personal tragedy, fueled by a sense of guilt at his inability to prevent it, has brought Nicholas Shelby to the point of despair when he chances upon a mystery that reawakens his physician’s curiosity; that, and a fortunate encounter with the independent-minded and resourceful Bianca Merton, owner of The Jackdaw tavern.  However, as the reader will discover, it’s not just her skills as an apothecary that Bianca must hide.  Together they embark on a search for a killer with a distinctive but gruesome calling card.  Soon that search brings them into contact with powerful men (it would be a surprise in a novel set in this period not to run into a member of the Cecil family at some point!) who may pose as much of a risk as does the ruthless killer they are seeking.

The Angel’s Mark has all the ingredients I look for in a great historical crime mystery: a wealth of period of detail that conjures up the sight, sounds and smells of the time; a host of colourful characters to provide possible suspects; and a plot full of twists and turns with a generous helping of red herrings and “I wasn’t expecting that” moments.  It kept me guessing right to the end.  I’m definitely hoping for more of the same from this author in the future.

I received a review copy courtesy of publishers, Corvus, NetGalley and Readers First in return for an honest and unbiased review.

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In three words: Gripping, atmospheric, mystery

Try something similar…Martyr (John Shakespeare#1) by Rory Clements or The Secret of Vesalius by Jordi Llobregat (read my spoiler free review of the latter here)

S W Perry Author PictureAbout the Author

S.W. Perry was a journalist and broadcaster before retraining as an airline pilot.

He lives in Worcestershire with his wife and two spaniels.

Connect with S. W. Perry

Twitter  ǀ  Goodreads



#BlogTour #BookReview Sleeping Through War by Jackie Carreira

Sleeping Through War

Today I’m delighted to be joining the blog tour for Sleeping Through War by Jackie Carreira.  Do check out the reviews by the other great book bloggers taking part in the tour (see bottom of this post) and find out why I’m not alone in my appreciation for this wonderful book.

Sleeping Through WarAbout the Book

It is May 1968. Students are rioting, civil rights are being fought and died for, nuclear bombs are being tested, and war is raging in Vietnam. For three ordinary women in Lisbon, London and Washington life must go on as usual. For them, just to survive is an act of courage. How much has really changed in 50 years?

Format: Paperback, ebook (224 pp.)
Publisher: Troubador/Matador
Published: 28th February 2018
Genre: Literary Fiction

Purchase Links*  ǀ  ǀ Wordery | Waterstones
*links provided for convenience, not as part of any affiliate programme

Find Sleeping Through War on Goodreads

My Review

Sleeping Through War tells the stories of three different women and is set against the backdrop of world events in 1968, a turbulent time of student demonstrations throughout Europe, civil rights marches in the United States, political tension in Eastern Europe and the Vietnam War.     Although the backgrounds of the three women are different, they live in different parts of the world and there is no direct connection between them, their concerns are similar: home, family, worries about the future.  In addition, the church plays a role in all their lives.

Both Amalia, a single mother widowed in the war between Portugal and Angola, and Mrs. Johnson, with a son serving in Vietnam, are coping with the consequences of war.  Rose, a nurse recently arrived in England from St. Lucia, is engaged in a different kind of war – a war against racial prejudice and discrimination.  The author, Jackie Carreira, is a playwright and therefore used to communicating the stories of her characters to an audience through dialogue.  Her skill at this is evident from the stories told in the first person – by Rose and Mrs. Johnson – in which the reader gets a real insight into their thoughts and feelings through the distinctive narrative voice of each.

Having said this, Amalia’s story was probably the one I found most engrossing.  Left alone to support her son, she is forced to do whatever it takes to earn money to put food on the table, placing herself at the mercy of others as a consequence.

You would have to have a heart of stone not to be moved by the letters Mrs. Johnson writes to her son, Rod, in which the cheerful snippets about domestic life back home barely disguise the despair she obviously feels at being parted from him.  A final revelation is heartbreaking, but not in the way you may have been expecting.

Rose was definitely my favourite character.  Although she encounters both casual and overt racism, she responds with kindness, understanding and tolerance to those around her, particularly towards her neighbour, Brenda.  I also loved her observations about the differences between her birthplace in St. Lucia and England – the cold and rain, the English fixation about discussing the weather, the queuing, the feigned politeness, and how ‘everything in London always looks so dull’.   I particularly liked her experience of attending a church service in London.  ‘I sing with everyone else during the hymns, but not as loud as I might have done at home.  The songs they sing in church here are all so slow.’ Rose felt so real to me in the end that it got to the point where I found myself thinking, ‘Yes, that’s exactly what Rose would do’ or ‘You go for it girl!’.

Sleeping Through War is an engrossing, beautifully written novel about the challenges facing three women in a time of upheaval and change.  It made me laugh, it made me cry, it taught me some things I didn’t know and it made me think.  Honestly, what more do you want from a book?

I received a review copy courtesy of the author and Rachel’s Random Resources in return for an honest and unbiased review.

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In three words: Touching, insightful, thought-provoking

Jackie CarreiraAbout the Author

Jackie Carreira is a writer, musician, designer, co-founder of QuirkHouse Theatre Company, and award-winning playwright. She mostly grew up and went to school in Hackney, East London, but spent part of her early childhood with grandparents in Lisbon’s Old Quarter. Her colourful early life has greatly influenced her first novel, Sleeping Through War.

Jackie now lives in leafy Suffolk with her actor husband, AJ Deane, two cats and too many books.

Connect with Jackie

Website  |  Facebook ǀ Goodreads

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