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Sir Robert Carey is back in another mystery-adventure full of vibrant personalities and derring-do.
Thursday, 12th October, 1592. Eighteen days after the action closes in An Air of Treason, courtier Sir Robert Carey and Carey's surly, larcenous, and loyal henchman Henry Dodd, Land Sergeant of Gilsland, are back in Carlisle and the Debateable Lands -- the Border country, the wild North, the land of the hot trod where the thieving, feuding reiver clans are ''English when it suited, and Scots at their pleasure.''
A Chorus of Innocents ushers forward Lady Elizabeth Widdrington, a married woman whom Carey adores but respects. It opens when a very pregnant young woman rides to Lady Widdrington's tower crying that her minister husband has been murdered and she herself has been raped.
Listeners will meet canny King James VI; his amoral favorite Lord Spynie; the fey Lady Hume; Mr. Anricks, a surprisingly skilled tooth drawer; Young Henry Widdrington with his unfortunate spots; and all the boys in murdered Minister Burn's choir. The action proceeds full tilt and finishes with a bang.
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P.F. Chisholm is a pseudonym of a well-known writer of historical thrillers, children's books, and non-fiction blogs and ebooks. Previous titles in the Sir Robert Carey and Sergeant Dodd series are A Famine of Horses, A Season of Knives, A Surfeit of Guns, A Plague of Angels, A Murder of Crows, and An Air of Treason.
This time out, it's Sir Robert Carey's unhappily married love, Elizabeth, who solves a murder steeped in political intrigue. Lady Elizabeth Widdrington is buying two horses that had most likely been stolen in Scotland when her friend Poppy Burn arrives in a terrible state. Far gone in pregnancy, the hysterical Poppy reveals that her husband, James, a minister over the Scottish border in Wendron, was murdered by two strangers who also raped her. Despite the fact that Elizabeth knows her cruel and indifferent husband, Sir Henry, will be furious, she crosses the border herself, accompanied by young Henry and several Widdrington cousins, to see James properly buried. At Poppy's house she finds the strong-willed dowager Lady Hume of Norland, who's perhaps a little mad, doing all in her power to keep her beloved grandson, Hughie, out of the hands of Lord Spynie, the homosexual favorite of King James VI of Scotland. Although the border country is rife with stealing, murder, and clan rivalries, Elizabeth can't help but think that some more intimate intrigue is responsible for the death of a popular minister who was running a school for boys. She soon finds herself in trouble with several factions but continues to hunt for information. In the meantime, Sir Robert Carey, suffering from a toothache and in search of help, runs into the barber surgeon, Mr. Anricks, recently returned from helping Elizabeth in Wendron. Once Anricks, who's more than he seems, joins with Elizabeth and Carey, a dangerous hunt can be brought to a satisfying conclusion. One of Chisholm's best Elizabethan mysteries (An Air of Treason, 2014, etc.), combining all the historical information readers have come to expect with a swiftly moving story featuring a strong woman whose romantic aspirations have yet to be fulfilled. (Kirkus Reviews)
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