December’s Editor’s Pick is Robin Blake’s ROUGH MUSIC.
With ROUGH MUSIC Robin Blake brings his Cragg and Fidelis historical mystery series, set in the north of England in the 1740s, to Severn House. Known for incorporating thoroughly researched details of the Georgian era’s life and times in his books, Blake continues that trend with his latest instalment.
Yet far from being purely about the history, the series offers a mystery featuring old-English customs, hidden identities, secrets, murder, bees, bulls, and no shortage of humour.
It’s the sweltering summer of 1744 and when an epidemic disease threatens his hometown, coroner Titus Cragg retires with his wife and baby son to a remote village in East Lancashire, where he hopes his family will enjoy the healthy and tranquil air. But Cragg finds the rural atmosphere anything but peaceful when he’s called upon to investigate the horrific death of a local woman who has fallen victim to a cruel community punishment.
Assisted by his friend Dr Luke Fidelis, Cragg begins to probe the village’s prejudices and simmering hatreds, as he untangles cross-currents of suspicion, rivalry and rural customs which are very different from the ways he knows in the town. Then another local woman disappears, and events take a disturbing new twist…
From the shocking opening involving a stang ride – which was a form of vigilante punishment for cuckolded men or for women deemed domineering – the period is brought to life in such detail. When this is combined with the author’s ability to bring to life a well-developed ensemble cast of characters with realistic motivations and backstories, you will feel as if you live in the village of Accrington yourself.
Ultimately however it is the mystery that keeps the action moving along at a fast pace and will have you turning the pages. Seeing Cragg piece together his investigation using methods of the time – and his use of communal trials (of varying degrees of success) – along with Fidelis conducting cutting-edge autopsy techniques, is as satisfying as it is intriguing.
Find out more information about ROUGH MUSIC here.