This is one of the most disturbing covers I’ve seen in a while. Which, I guess, was the point. And I lived in Norwich. Such a lovely city!
A Sickness in the Soul: An Ashmole Foxe Georgian Mystery by William Savage released in September in the Historical Mystery genre.
“Many people wear masks. Some to hide their feelings; some to conceal their identity; and some to hide that most hideous plague of mankind: a sickness in the soul.”
Ashmole Foxe, Norwich bookseller, man-about-town and solver of mysteries will encounter all of these in this tangled drama of hatred, obsession and redemption.
This is a story set in the England of the 1760s, a time of rigid class distinctions, where the rich idle their days away in magnificent mansions, while hungry children beg, steal and prostitute themselves on the streets. An era on the cusp of revolution in America and France; a land where outward wealth and display hide simmering political and social tensions; a country which had faced intermittent war for the past fifty years and would need to survive a series of world-wide conflicts in the fifty years ahead.
Faced with no less than three murders, occurring from the aristocracy to the seeming senseless professional assassination of a homeless vagrant, Ashmole Foxe must call on all his skill and intelligence to uncover the sickness which appears to be infecting his city’s very soul.
Can Foxe uncover the truth which lies behind a series of baffling deaths, from an aristocrat attending a ball to a vagrant murdered where he slept in a filthy back-alley?
‘Most irregular!’ the coroner spluttered. ‘This is mere hearsay, doctor. I cannot admit it into evidence unless it is vouched for by the physician who you say was there at the time. Is that gentleman in the court?’
‘Does anyone know where he may be found?’
The clerk to the court stepped forward — most reluctantly, Foxe thought. With much hesitation, he explained that, unfortunately, the man was not present at the inquest. Nor could his evidence be sought.
‘From what I have been told by those who encountered him that evening, sir, he was visiting from London. He said he intended to depart to return home on the first mail coach the following morning.’
‘God’s teeth!’ the coroner exploded. ‘Did anyone think to make a note of this man’s name or ask where he lived?’
‘Is Viscount Penngrove present?’
A tall man with a long, bony face stood up slowly. ‘I am here,’ he said. ‘I wish to God I were not.’
Whether this was an understandable comment about needing to attend an inquest on one of his sons, or an expression of disgust at being forced to sit, hugger-mugger, with tradesmen and other common people, was not entirely clear.
‘Is it true, your lordship,’ the coroner said, ‘as the medical examiner here has said, that this physician no one can name made a remark about the temperature of your son’s … body … and the extent of … um … stiffening?’
‘Something like that,’ Viscount Penngrove drawled.
‘Exactly as reported, my lord? Nothing else added and nothing omitted?’
‘Can’t recall. Rather upset by it all, as you might imagine.’
The coroner struggled bravely forward. ‘You did not ask for this physician’s name or his address?’
‘I am not in the habit of bothering myself with the personal details of tradespeople,’ came the viscount’s cold reply. ‘I passed what I could remember on to the fellow now on the stand. Up to him after that.’ He then sat down, making it clear he would entertain no further questioning.
AUTHOR Bio and Links:
I started to write fiction as a way of keeping my mind active in retirement. Throughout my life, I have read and enjoyed hundreds of detective stories and mystery novels. One of my other loves is history, so it seemed natural to put the two together. Thus began two series of murder mystery books set in Norfolk, England.
All my books are set between 1760 and around 1800, a period of turmoil in Britain, with constant wars, revolutions in America and France and finally the titanic, 22-year struggle with Napoleon.
The Ashmole Foxe series takes place at the start of this time and is located in Norwich. Mr Foxe is a dandy, a bookseller and, unknown to most around him, the mayor’s immediate choice to deal with anything likely to upset the peace or economic security of the city.
The series featuring Dr Adam Bascom, a young gentleman physician caught up in the beginning of the Napoleonic wars, takes place in a variety of locations near the North Norfolk coast. Adam builds a successful medical practice, but his insatiable curiosity and knack for unravelling intrigue constantly involve him in mysteries large and small.
I have spent a good deal of my life travelling in Britain and overseas. Now I am more than content to write stories and run a blog devoted to the world of Georgian England, which you can find at http://www.penandpension.com. You can also follow me on Twitter as @penandpension.
Amazon Author page: https://www.amazon.com/-/e/B00RZBGQ0K
Hello William, and thank you for being here!
Any weird things you do when you’re alone?
None I’m prepared to admit to! I used to talk constantly to the cat when we had one, but I don’t count that as weird, merely good manners.
What is your favorite quote and why?
I can’t say I have one. I sometimes come across things others have said or written which I find interesting or inspiring, but I rarely remember them for long. There’s always another one to take their place.
Who is your favorite author and why?
I don’t have one and never had. That isn’t to say there aren’t authors whose works I admire to a great degree. Amongst mystery writers, I would count Georges Simenon, Robert van Gulik, Matsumoto Seichō, James Melville and Andrea Camilleri. For beautiful English, you can’t beat The 1662 Book of Common Prayer and the King James Bible. I’m not at all religious, but these two books, together with the works of William Shakespeare, should be the inspiration for anyone who wants to write English which sings on the page. I was brought up hearing both almost every day. The reason why much modern writing is so flat and clumsy is that today’s children are not. You have to heave an ear for what works in a sentence, just as a composer has an ear from what melodies and chord progressions work in a musical score. Neither writing nor composing are mechanical processes. Both demand sensitivity to the material and the willingness to keep working on something until you know it’s right, regardless of what “the rules” tell you.
What, in your opinion, are the most important elements of good writing?
A compelling story, clarity of prose and an ear for dialogue. Nothing else comes close in importance. Forget the rules! I cannot abide the very idea of stories being written according to some preset notion of story arcs or character arcs. You can always spot the ones where this is done, be it in a book or a film or a TV series. They’re the ones where you can predict the outcome far in advance; the ones which come along like London buses: all the same, with only the destination boards suggesting where they’re supposed to take you. Mediocrity, repetition of ideas and formats and sheer lack of imagination are all the result of blindly following some supposed set of rules for writing. Don’t do it!
Where did you get the idea for this book?
Heaven knows! Every so often, I go into a kind of reverie about my chosen time period and listen in to what the people in my mind are doing and saying. More often than not, I start out with the idea of writing one thing, do all the research and lay out a synopsis, then end up writing something completely different. I’ve now learned to trust my intuition and go with the flow of ideas. I still write outlines and collect research, but I no longer try to stick to them as I write. I think of them as a kind of store cupboard of ingredients, which I can mix and match as needed, or ignore altogether. Without them, I’d be left floundering. Yet I no longer feel the slightest compunction at letting my characters lead me off in an entirely different direction to the one I intended to follow. They’re in charge, not me.
This post is part of a Tour. The tour dates can be found here:
- $50 Amazon/BN.com gift card.
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