Publication Information: Electric Reads, 2013, trade paperback
Genre: Historical Fiction: “...but pray tell me, are you for the King or for Parliament?”
Setting: 17th Century England
Setting: 17th Century England
1643. The armies of King Charles I and Parliament clash in the streets and fields of England, threatening to tear the country apart, as winter closes in around the parliamentary stronghold of Nantwich. The royalists have pillaged the town before, and now, they are returning. But even with weeks to prepare before the Civil War is once more at its gates, that doesn’t mean the people of Nantwich are safe.
While the garrison of soldiers commanded by Colonel George Booth stand guard, the town’s residents wait, eyeing the outside world with unease, unaware that they face a deadly threat from within. Townspeople are being murdered – the red sashes of the royalists left on the bodies marking them as traitors to the parliamentary cause. When the first dead man is found, his skull caved in with a rock, fingers start being pointed, and old hatreds rise to the surface. It falls to Constable Daniel Cheswis to contain the bloodshed, deputizing his friend, Alexander Clowes, to help him in his investigations, carried out with the eyes of both armies on his back. And they are not the only ones watching him.
He is surrounded by enemies, and between preparing for the imminent battle, watching over his family, being reunited with his long-lost sweetheart, and trying, somehow, to stay in business, he barely has time to solve a murder. With few clues and the constant distraction of war, can Cheswis protect the people of Nantwich? And which among them need protecting? Whether they are old friends or troubled family, in these treacherous times, everyone’s a traitor, in war, law, or love.
When the Winter Siege is through, who will be among the bodies?
Audience: Fans of historical mysteries by authors like Sharon Kay Penman (like me, an alumna of Rutgers Law School) and Ariana Franklin.
What I liked: I enjoyed the author’s recreation of the town of Nantwich, familiar to anyone who has read as much as I about the English Civil War, but Bradbridge vividly depicts the everyday aspect of town in a way I had not encountered before. I particularly liked the descriptions of Cheswis’ cheese business and his friendships with other merchants and townspeople. I also appreciated the way the Royalists and the Roundheads interact throughout book – some authors ignore the fact that there were periods of time without any battle when people from different sides had to get along. American readers more familiar with our own War Between the States will get a good understanding of the issues in the English Civil War.
What I disliked: Cheswis is a pleasant character and the story moved along well, but I wished the mystery had been compelling. I had a hard time keeping track of the characters at first and finally made a list. I would have recommended that the author hire a professional copyeditor so as to avoid a grammatical error like that on page 24 (“it was made clear to Sawyer and I”) and the frequent use of “alright” which I dislike. However, the author’s passion for history shines through and keeps the reader interested.
Source: I received this book from the Historical Fiction Virtual Book Tours and urge you to stop by the tour to learn more about the author and see what others have to say about it.
Virtual Book Tour Schedule
Monday, April 7-Spotlight & Giveaway at Passages to the Past
Tuesday, April 8-Review at Must Read Faster
-Review at A Bibliotaph’s Reviews
-Review at Princess of Eboli