Elizabethan life and times certainly make for all kinds of outstanding books as there seems to be a never-ending supply of ideas, intrigues, and mysteries from which to write historical novels or imaginate (yes, I made up a word) stories. I particularly like many of the mystery novels springing up based in this time period and Murder by Misrule, a book in Anna Castle’s Francis Bacon Mystery Series, is certainly one that can take a front row shelf.
Castle debuts her writing with this first mystery in an at least three-part series. Set in the mid-1500s, Sir Francis Bacon is keen on climbing the social ladder and regaining favor he had lost from the Queen (Queen Elizabeth I, of course). When a murder occurs, he senses this to be an opportunity to increase his value, but as someone who likes to remain home due to his backward personality (and since he needs time to read), he sends his law pupils out to solve the mystery, namely Tom Clarady, the son of a privateer. However, everyone it seems has their own agenda, every characters that Castle introduces their own intricate web they are weaving in order to get what they want, or cover up what they don’t want found. Everything and anything seems to have fallen asunder, especially since it is the time of misrule, when things are turned upside on purpose (you can read about “misrule” HERE).
I enjoyed Castle’s book, read it quickly during a nightly bout of non-sleeping, and was so entertained that I didn’t wish to fall asleep. Her writing is quick-witted and each character has a special quality and very precise personality that blends with the others to create a whole. Tom is at the center of it all, doing all the work for Francis. I suppose Tom’s even the protagonist in my mind. It’s like Holmes to Sherlock, I suppose, but reminds me more of if Agatha Christie’s Hercule Poirot had stayed in and sent out a side kick. I’ve enjoyed these types of English mysteries since I first read Agatha Christie as a teenager, then moved on to Sherlock Holmes, but Castle was able to create a novel that resembled this type of mystery while changing up the plot and structure so that it was also totally unique.
Castle wove authentic historical people and facts into a historical mystery novel, creating a mystery with even more depth. She was able to cover the paranoia and social turmoil of this era as well within her plot so that she created a well-rounded, well-researched, well-plotted, and well-detailed novel that takes your mind back in time to decipher a puzzle for which she created twists, turns, and surprises. When I thought I’d have it figured out, then I wouldn’t. She did a great job with her element of surprise.
I loved Castle’s humor and suspenseful writing. I highly recommend this book to any historical mystery reader or fans of the Elizabethan era of intrigue. If you like mysteries, you’ll love this one. I’m looking forward to the next book in her series.
Murder by Misrule, Synopsis~
A Kirkus Indie Books of the Month Selection for July.
Francis Bacon is charged with investigating the murder of a fellow barrister at Gray’s Inn. He recruits his unwanted protégé Thomas Clarady to do the tiresome legwork. The son of a privateer, Clarady will do anything to climb the Elizabethan social ladder. Bacon’s powerful uncle Lord Burghley suspects Catholic conspirators of the crime, but other motives quickly emerge.
Rival barristers contend for the murdered man’s legal honors and wealthy clients. Highly-placed courtiers are implicated as the investigation reaches from Whitehall to the London streets. Bacon does the thinking; Clarady does the fencing. Everyone has something up his pinked and padded sleeve. Even the brilliant Francis Bacon is at a loss — and in danger — until he sees through the disguises of the season of Misrule.
The Francis Bacon Mystery Series~
This series of historical mysteries features the philosopher-statesman Francis Bacon as a sleuth and spymaster. Since Francis prefers the comfort of his own chambers, like his spiritual descendent Nero Wolfe, he sends his pupil, the handsome young Thomas Clarady, out to gather information. Tom loves the work, not least because he meets so many interesting people, like Lord Burghley, Sir Walter Raleigh, and Christopher Marlowe. Murder by Misrule is the first book in the series.
Praise for Murder by Misrule~
“Though the plot keeps the pages turning, the characters, major and minor, and the well-wrought historical details will make readers want to linger in the 16th century. A laugh-out-loud mystery that will delight fans of the genre.” – Kirkus Starred Review
“Murder by Misrule is a delightful debut with characters that leap off the page, especially the brilliant if unwilling detective Francis Bacon and his street smart man Tom Clarady. Elizabeth Tudor rules, but Anna Castle triumphs.” – Karen Harper, author of Mistress Shakespeare
“Well-researched… Murder by Misrule is also enormously entertaining; a mystery shot through with a series of misadventures, misunderstandings,
and mendacity worthy of a Shakespearean comedy.” – M. Louisa Locke, author of Bloody Lessons
“Historical mystery readers take note: Murder by Misrule is a wonderful example of Elizabethan times brought to life.” — D. Donovan, eBook Reviewer, Midwest Book Review.
Buy the Book~
Author Anna Castle~
She physically resides in Austin, Texas, and mentally counts herself a queen of infinite space.
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