Series: Thomas Tallant Mysteries #1
Publication Date: (Original 7/9/19 – Re-Release soon)
*** 3.5 Stars ***
Historical mysteries are my favorite and the book-blurb sounded very interesting, so I was happy to get the opportunity to read it. I rarely read a book that takes place during this period – 1639-1640 – and those I have read have always been from Scotland’s side. Reading from the English perspective was quite interesting. The times were turbulent with the lead up to the English Civil War that would begin in 1642. The tensions between the Royalists and the Parliamentarians were moving into more strident and violent territory. The Puritans were fighting the changes in the church and there were riots everywhere. Poor Thomas Tallant chose this time to return to England from two years away and was immediately embroiled in the death of a fellow merchant. Things were definitely in the realm of mob rule and Thomas and his family were in mortal danger.
The prologue shows the murder of wealthy wool merchant Sir Joseph Venell – and a very strange murder it was. The man, Mr. Robert Petty, who is investigating the case more or less demands that Thomas look at the wounds and the scene to see if it could have been done by Peregrine Falcons. Thomas is bewildered because, while he has had exposure to hunting falcons, he doesn’t have any and assures the investigator that falcons couldn’t attack in that manner. The investigation goes on – more strange deaths occur – and Thomas is more and more under suspicion. The magistrate is determined to convict him, but the investigator is a bit more circumspect. As time goes along (over a year) they try to bring Sir Ralph Tallant, Thomas’s father, into the crimes. Luckily Tom has his best friend Edmund Dalloway to save him time and again.
Thomas also meets the lovely Elizabeth Seymour and is very attracted to her. Over the course of the year, they draw closer and closer. Elizabeth is a very smart lady who studies astronomy, mathematics, etc. and loves solving puzzles. That is a good thing because she’s going to need all of those skills to help save Thomas.
While I enjoyed the story, it was a very, very busy one. It definitely isn’t fast-paced and frankly, I didn’t care for most of the people who populated the pages. I really liked Thomas’s mother and I enjoyed Elizabeth’s intellect. I’m sure I was supposed to like and respect Sir Ralph, but I didn’t care for him. He seemed to support his radical son, Peter, in whatever he did, but he was always on Thomas’s case telling him how impulsive he was. To my view, the things Thomas did were all he could do in that situation and it wasn’t fair for his father to chastise him. I didn’t see Thomas as an investigator at all. He just floated along on the surface and let things happen to him and when they did, he let someone else save him – until Elizabeth finally handed him the solution on a silver platter. Perhaps Thomas will take a more hands-on approach to future investigations in the series.
I did enjoy reading the story because it was from a period about which I rarely read. The author conveys the tensions and dangers very well. Like the US Civil War, it was brother against brother – friend against friend – and never knowing who was on which side or who you could trust. It will be interesting to see this author’s second book.
I voluntarily read and reviewed an Advanced Reader Copy of this book. All thoughts and opinions are my own.