Friday, 19 August 2016

THE BOOKSELLER'S TALE (Oxford Medieval Mysteries Book 1) by Ann Swinfen

5 out of 5 stars

Medieval Mystery

On Amazon UK HERE
On Goodreads HERE

I'm such a fan of Ann Swinfen, and this book lived up to my expectations ~ don't ignore all those book promotion tweets flying past on Twitter, it's how I discovered her!

This is a cosy sort of murder mystery set in Oxford, in which bookseller Nicholas Elyot discovers the body of a student from the university floating in the river.  Sure he was murdered, Nicholas takes it upon himself to solve the crime.  I felt the plot came second place to the historical interest of the story, which suited me fine.  The book is intricately researched, and serves as an education about the time, in the most enjoyable way possible.  Beautifully written, I could imagine every scene, whether in the busy streets of the town, in the cottages, the university grounds, the dark alleys on the dangerous side of town, the roads out to Banbury, or the lanes out to the water mills.

The time of the book was of added interest to me because it takes place just a short while after the Great Plague has died out; I learned much about the long-term effects of this pestilence.  Interesting to read a post apocalyptic story from over 600 years ago; I suspect the people of the time dealt with it better than we would now, mostly because they were already equipped with the skills they would need.

The characters are real people, and, as with Ms Swinfen's other books, I felt sad when I'd finished it and eager to read more.  Highly recommended to all readers of well researched, literary historical fiction, and especially to anyone with a particular interest in the history of story writing, bookbinding and selling, and, of course, the history of Oxford.

This Rough Ocean by Ann Swinfen is reviewed HERE, with links to Flood and Betrayal (all set in the 17th Century).

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