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



Blog Tour/Book Review: Night Flight to Paris by David Gilman

My grateful thanks to Florence at Head of Zeus for inviting me to join the blog tour for David Gilman’s latest book, Night Flight to Paris.  You can read my review below.  Do check out the tour banner at the bottom of this post to see details of the other great book bloggers who have taken part in the tour and shared extracts from the books or guest posts by David Gilman.


PARIS, 1943. The swastika flies from the top of the Eiffel Tower. Soldiers clad in field grey patrol the streets. Buildings have been renamed, books banned, art stolen and people disappeared. Amongst the missing is an Allied intelligence cell.

Gone to ground? Betrayed? Dead? Britain’s Special Operations Executive need to find out. They recruit ex-Parisian and Bletchley Park codebreaker Harry Mitchell to return to the city he fled two years ago.

Mitchell knows Occupied Paris – a city at war with itself. Informers, gangsters, collaborators and Resistance factions are as ready to slit each other’s throats as they are the Germans’. The occupiers themselves are no better: the Gestapo and the Abwehr – military intelligence – are locked in their own lethal battle for dominance. Mitchell knows the risks: a return to Paris not a mission – it’s a death sentence.

But he has good reason to put his life on the line: the wife and daughter he was forced to leave behind have fallen into the hands of the Gestapo and Michell will do whatever it takes to save them. But with disaster afflicting his mission from the outset, it will take all his ingenuity, all his courage, to even get into Paris… unaware that every step he takes towards the capital is a step closer to a trap well set and baited.

Format: Hardcover, ebook (496 pp.)    Publisher: Head of Zeus
Published: 9th August 2018            Genre: Historical Fiction, Thriller

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

Find Night Flight to Paris on Goodreads

My Review

An author writing a book set in World War 2 featuring the French Resistance is entering pretty crowded – or should I say occupied (sorry) – territory.  There’s Kristin Hannah’s The Nightingale and Kate Mosse’s Citadel, to name but two.  Thankfully, in David Gilman’s skilful hands, the reader will find plenty that is original and compelling in Night Flight to Paris.

What I particularly admired was the way the author convincingly portrayed the constant state of jeopardy in which those working undercover in occupied France or as part of the Resistance lived on a daily basis and its emotional and psychological impact on them.   Imagine a situation where a word or gesture out of place – even something as simple as the way you order your coffee – can mark you out as a stranger or enemy agent, bringing you to the attention of the authorities.  In addition, a situation where informers are everywhere and it can be difficult  – actually, almost impossible – to know who to trust.  I  loved the detail of the tradecraft necessary to operate undercover, introducing me to concepts such as duress codes.

The cruelty and ruthlessness of the German authorities towards enemy agents and members of the Resistance they capture is graphically displayed.  But, in time of war, as the author shows, there is a degree of ruthlessness required from everyone involved.  Uncomfortable, potentially life-changing decisions and actions need to be taken in which personal feelings may come into conflict with mission objectives.  Mitchell, in particular,  faces this dilemma on numerous occasions.  ‘What if his feelings threatened to get in the way of everything that still needed to be done? He could not afford to lose focus.  Lives depended on him seeing the operation through and being sufficiently detached to make quick decision.’  But how can you remain detached when it’s family members, people you care about or who have come to depend on you who will be affected by the decisions you make?

The author describes the complex, and at times, baffling hierarchies and different political and military groupings that exist within the Resistance and within the French and German authorities in the occupied territories.   As one character explains: ‘There were a lot of people operating in Paris.  Different groups, different political persuasions.  Mix that in with the criminal element and you couldn’t tell who was betraying whom.’ The distrust and rivalry between the different groups, and in some cases the personal rivalry, will play an increasingly important part as the story unfolds.

Night Flight to Paris immerses the reader in a world where danger, suspicion and fear is a constant companion.  It’s populated with characters whose lives the reader comes to care about deeply – and others that one is pleased to see meet a sticky end!   With its rich mixture of atmospheric period detail, dramatic action scenes and compelling story line, Night Flight to Paris is a must-read for fans of historical fiction.

I received a review copy courtesy of publishers, Head of Zeus, in return for an honest and unbiased review.

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In three words: Compelling, dramatic, immersive

Try something similar…Flight Before Dawn by Megan Easley-Walsh (read my review here)

David GilmanAbout the Author

David Gilman enjoyed many careers – including fire-fighter, paratrooper and photographer – before turning to writing full time.

He is an award-winning author and screenwriter, and was shortlisted for the Wilbur Smith Writing Prize 2017.

Connect with David

Website  ǀ  Facebook ǀ  Twitter  ǀ  Goodreads

Night Flight to Paris Blog Tour