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Midwife’s tale

harlotSamuel Thomas’ two mysteries set in 1644 and 1645—at the height of the English Civil war—show readers how ordinary people fared during the years of conflict between the Roundheads and the Cavaliers. The Midwife’s Tale (Minotaur, 2013) is set in York during the siege of that city by rebel forces. Lady Bridget Hodgson is a midwife unafraid to venture out in a city made dangerous by shortages and drunken soldiers. She and her able assistant Martha prove Esther innocent of the charge of murder. The Harlot’s Tale (Minotaur, 1/2014) is set in 1645 after the Puritans have taken the city. Their harsh justice and a devastating heat wave combine to demoralize the population. Thomas lives in Ohio and teaches history at University School near Cleveland, Ohio.

–posted 1/25/2014

Posted January/25/2014

Mrs. Lincoln’s Rival

mrslincolnReaders who enjoyed Jennifer Chiaverini’s historical novel Mrs. Lincoln’s Dressmaker (Dutton, 2013) about Elizabeth Keckley, who rose from slavery to become a top Washington seamstress, will want to read her new book Mrs. Lincoln’s Rival (Dutton, 1/2014). Keckley’s own memoir provided material for the first volume, while the life of Kate Chase Sprague, the subject of her new book, is well documented. Newspapers of the day recorded her famous parties and called her the “Belle of the North.” She has been colorfully portrayed in numerous books, including Gore Vidal’s Lincoln (Random House, 1984) and Doris Kearns Goodwin’s Team of Rivals (Simon & Schuster, 2005).As hostess for her widowed father, Salmon P. Chase, Lincoln’s Secretary of the Treasury, Kate enchanted Washington society.We know that Lincoln attended Kate’s wedding reception, and Mrs. Lincoln did not.  For the rest of the story, we can turn to Jennifer Chiaverini.

–posted 1/18/2014

Posted January/18/2014

For Dan Brown fans

Father Tom Shaman, a Los Angeles priest, interrupts local gang members attacking a woman in a dark alley.  After landing a few successful punches and dialing 911, he realizes that he has killed one of the attackers. This incident seems to cap his growing despair and disillusionment and he decides to leave the clergy. Traveling to Venice on a whim, he finds the city gripped in horror at a series of ritualistic killings unlike anything they have ever seen. The Venice Conspiracy (Overlook, 2012) tells of Tom Shaman’s involvement in the investigation.   Now Overlook has published The Rome Prophecy, (1/9/2014), Tom Shaman’s second case. In this book Tom and Valentina work together again to discover the truth about a woman claiming to be Cassandra, the ancient prophet of doom. British author Sam Christer seamlessly weaves ancient civilization and modern day Italy into an engaging story that will please fans of Dan Brown (q.v.).

–posted 1/13/2014

Posted January/17/2014

Last Mario Silva mystery

WaysMario Silva, Chief Inspector for Criminal Matters of the Brazilian Federal Police, has his work cut out for him as an honest cop in a corrupt country where most crimes are never solved. Since Mario is a Federal cop, his investigations take him all over Brazil, including the Amazon rainforest, where he often faces indifference or downright corruption on the part of local officials. Ways of Evil Men (Soho Crime, 1/2014) is the 7th book in the series. This case sends Silva to the remote Brazilian state of Para to investigate the deaths of 39 members of the native Awana tribe. Fans will be sad to know that this may be the last Mario Silva book as author Leighton Gage died in July 2013. Gage was born in New Jersey and worked in advertising until he settled in Sao Paulo, Brazil and created his intrepid Chief Inspector Silva.

–posted  12/29/2013

Posted January/4/2014

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