Sunday 5 November 2017

A TINCTURE OF SECRETS AND LIES by William Savage @penandpension

4.5 out of 5 stars

On Amazon UK
On Goodreads

How I discovered this book: it was submitted to Rosie Amber's Book Review Team, of which I am a member. However, I would have bought the book anyway as I have read and reviewed all of Mr Savage's books, which speaks for itself; reviews for the others can be found by clicking his name in the 'labels' at the end of the review.

Genre: 18th century history, murder mystery.  The 4th in the series, it stands alone, but I'd suggested reading the earlier books first to become acquainted with the players.

The first 35% or so of this novel takes place in the bedroom of our hero, Norfolk doctor and crime solver Adam Bascom; he is suffering from dire injuries following an accident, and, whilst recovering, is brought news of foul deeds and heinous crimes that deserve his attention.  Anyone who can hold my attention with the first third of a novel set in one room (and I read every word) is worthy of applause ~ indeed, in many ways, this is the best so far of Mr Savage's novels.  As well as the nicely plotted murder mystery, he has included more scene-setting, more detail about the day-to-day living of the time, and the history of the area; North Norfolk is particularly close to my heart, and the setting of his books is part of their appeal for me. 

The story brings to life so well the class hierarchy of the time, and tells how for the inhabitants of coastal villagers, involvement in smuggling was a way of life; I'd love to read another Bascom book based around this.  It also shows how those in power in England were concerned that the rebellion of the French peasantry would influence those in this country to rise up in the same manner.

With Adam housebound, the novel needed to step outside his Aylsham house eventually, to add drama, and I was pleased to see some chapters from other characters' points of view: Ruth Scudamore, who is absolutely my sort of girl (she has no time for fripperies and society trivia), her brother Charles, who finds himself far outside his life of genteel leisure when he joins in a military attack to stop a scuffle with a group of rebels, and Adam's groom, William, sent to uncover a mysterious 'quack' who sells his elixirs to the gullible public.  I was also very impressed by a chapter written from the point of view of rebel Peter Gort, who sees himself as a swashbuckling hero of the underclasses.

I was slightly underwhelmed by the wrapping up, and would have liked to see the baddies get their comeuppance(s) rather than just hearing about it in reports and letters, and just a bit more drama and impact, but I still thoroughly enjoyed the book ~ and the delightful way in which it ended: will Adam's romantic life unfold as he wishes, after all his doubt and frustration?  I look forward to the next episode, to find out!


  1. Great sounding book, thanks Terry.

  2. I am so tempted - but will try out the other books first. Thanks terry.

  3. I actually didn't read your review, Terry, since I just downloaded the book and want to see how our reviews compare after I've written mine! So I'll be back!

    1. Ah, interesting - look forward to seeing yours, too!