Wednesday, 31 January 2018

Diana Reviews Toni Mount's new 'Sebastian Foxley' book, 'The Colour of Murder.'



London is not safe for princes or commoners.

In February 1478, a wealthy merchant is killed by an intruder and a royal duke dies at the Tower. Neither case is quite as simple as it seems.

Seb Foxley, an intrepid young artist, finds himself in the darkest of places, fleeing for his life. With foul deeds afoot at the king’s court, his wife Emily pregnant and his brother Jude’s hope of marrying Rose thwarted, can Seb unearth the secrets which others would prefer to keep hidden?

Join Seb and Jude, their lives in jeopardy in the dangerous streets of the city, as they struggle to solve crimes and keep their business flourishing.

*

The fifth Sebastian Foxley Mediaeval Mystery, The Colour of Murder, is an exciting blend of fact and fiction married together by exceptional storytelling and strong, believable characters. Although I have not read the preceding four books, (yet - something that will soon be put to rights, having just furnished my Kindle with the whole series!) the regular characters, Seb and his wife Em, brother Jude and their crew of apprentices and various hangers on, were easy to get to know and to love,and Toni Mount's writing adeptly made me feel part of their extended family.

The prologue, with more than a hint of magic and mayhem, seemingly directed towards  the Plantagenet family, lets the reader know firmly that there will be a dark mystery at the heart of this book. As it turns out, there is not just one mystery, but two, maybe three, all for Seb, the amateur sleuth, to solve. The prologue also hints at the culprits and shows a different side to historical personages that is certainly worthy of further consideration and research. Real characters interweave with fictitious ones seamlessly, creating a rich tapestry of Mediaeval life. The book is set at the beginning of 1478 and author shows a thorough knowledge of the history of this era and of the  London city at this time creating a story that is compelling and keeps the reader turning pages well after 'lights out time'.

Ms Mount shows a remarkable knowledge and understanding of the history and of so many subjects of the daily life at the time for commoners and upper class people, men and women (and boys!) and even dogs! I was particularly interested in and impressed by her descriptions of some of the more unusual practises involved in the work of a scrivener and limner and I leaned a lot about the work of an artist and how he sets about portraiture and the reasons behind each step. Nowhere, however, did I feel that I was reading a text book or being taught. The information was presented in such a clever way that it was just another and interesting part the book. Other subjects that the author shows a deep understanding of are shop keeping and the mercer's trade, housewifery, poisons and medicines, the Guilds and book binding.

Ms Mount even teaches me a new word, 'Aumbry', other wise spelled ambry, is a recessed cabinet in the wall of a Christian church for storing sacred vessels and vestments.

The story is fast paced, action packed and exciting keeping me guessing and even when part of one mystery was revealed, there was very often a hidden twist to thrill the reader. Dialogue flows easily and naturally and the conversation between a worried Seb and a pregnant Em, is so typical of any young couple with lots to learn about life, themselves and the opposite sex.

' ... I want a quiet life, Em. No knife brandishing assassins at my door, nor poisoners, fire-setters or killers with longbows. Just us. You, me and our child.'
'Our son, you mean.' Em pulled his free hand to her belly. 'Feel him kick? He is dancing a merry jig this eve.'
Seb rested his hand there.Then he felt it. For the first time, he felt the babe move.
'I felt it, Em. It kicked against my hand.' He smiled, forgetting the pain in his shoulder. ' 'Tis moving about.'
'Aye. You think I don't know? Every time he does that I have to rush to the privy.'
They laughed together ... 

As in this extract, feelings and emotions, worries and hurts are described with exceptional acumen and when a beloved friend of one of our main character is killed, I found tears pricking the backs of my eyes in sorrow at the loss and in sympathy with the living.

A real triumph of a book. I loved it!

What other people say:

I was lucky enough to get a pre-release copy of this book and it made my Christmas. The story is well constructed and the characters are believable and so well coloured you actually become concerned about them. The history behind the stories is accurate and sketched in such an interesting way you learn a lot about the lives of the ordinary people in medieval England. These ordinary people become involved in the machinations of the great and not so good of British history. If you enjoy any of, Paul Doherty, CJ Sansom, Ayls Clare, Candice Robb, Michael Jecks or Susanna Gregory then this book is for you. The book can be read stand alone but I would recommend reading the series in order for more enjoyment. This is the latest book in the series and every book has been 5 star.
About the author:

Hello! I'm Toni,
To get updates on my Seb Foxley books copy and follow this link .My series of murder mysteries is set in the stinking streets of medieval London and features the talented yet humble artist, Seb Foxley. My first novel "The Colour of Poison" was a huge success and continues to receive praise from around the world. Readers asked for more stories, so now there are now short stories to read, such as "The Colour of Gold" and "The Colour of Betrayal" between the full length books "The Colour of Cold Blood" and the forthcoming "The Colour of Murder". You can now also follow Seb's adventures at his own website www.SebastianFoxley.com and download a free bonus book "The Foxley Letters".
My latest non-fiction book "A Year in the Life of Medieval England" looks at real events that occurred on everyday of a medieval year.
"Medieval Medicine" is the paperback version of my highly successful hardback "Dragon's Blood and Willow Bark..."
"Everyday Life in Medieval London" is my most popular non-fiction and made it to No.1 at www.goodreads.com, and "Medieval Housewives" was voted a "Favourite book" of that year.
I can sign your ebook at https://www.authorgraph.com/authors/tonihistorian.
After many years of teaching history to adults, several of my courses are now available online at www.medievalcourses.com

Please visit my website www.tonimount.com or follow me at www.twitter.com/tonihistorian or www.facebook.com/toni.mount.10

AUTHOR INTERVIEW:

How do you find new methods of medieval murder?

I use medieval legal documents to find new ideas for murders for my thrillers. I like to include elements of mystery in the tale and if it ends with a visit to the hangman, so much the better.

How does inspiration strike you for your novels and how long do they take to write?

Inspiration can strike at any time, so it’s as well to note them down or they’re lost forever. It takes about six months to write a thriller but ideas for various murder mysteries are often being mulled over years in advance or a good tale might just appear fully formed, often in the shower!

Does the story or the research come first?

I have been researching 15th-century history for 30+ years, so much is done already. If the tale needs a specific bit of research – a hangman’s techniques, for example – that can be done at the time.

With 5 novels already in this series, can you tell us anything about future books?

The 6th Seb Foxley murder mystery is already written – The Colour of Death – this thriller is set in Norfolk and involves Seb and his long-lost relatives. I am now weaving tale no.7, back in London, where dark deeds are afoot and Seb has to wrestle with his conscience as he solves the puzzles in The Colour of Lies.

What is the correct order of the books?

The Colour of Poison
The Colour of Gold
The Colour of Cold Blood
The Colour of Betrayal
The Colour of Murder

© Diana Milne January 2018.

3 comments:

  1. Fabulous review. Looking forward to reading this

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  3. The series sounds fascinating! Can't find it in the Kobo catalogue?!

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