1752, Midsummer. Following a summons from her mother, Tabitha Hart departs the pleasures of London for her home village only to discover that Widow Hart has allegedly drowned. Determined to uncover the truth, Tabitha consults her mother’s almanack which reveals cryptic notes describing her terror of someone she names only as ‘D’. With time running out, can Tabitha solve the almanack’s riddles and bring her mother’s killer to justice?
Who am I? Martine Bailey’s captivating new historical mystery starts with this intriguingly titled riddle, and these mind-spinning puzzlers are a recurring theme at the start of each chapter. How many will you solve? Martine discusses the curious art of the riddle!
Riddles are one of the oldest forms of wordplay, from inscriptions on Ancient Babylonian tablets, to puzzles in Tolkien and Harry Potter. A riddle is a question – Who Am I? – composed in a puzzling, obscure way. This play with hidden meanings struck me as the perfect theme for a murder mystery in which my heroine must unmask a killer. I loved researching riddles and picking one for each chapter – along with fifty solutions, of course.
Here is a riddle from the book written about the book’s heroine, Tabitha. It is based on an old English tradition of mildly lewd riddles. Any ideas?
A vessel has she,
As round as a pear,
And sweet and moist in the middle;
’Tis bordered by hair,
And love does flow there
In my dreams – pray you solve me this riddle.*
THE ALMANACK is available from 31 January in the UK and 1 May in the US. Find out more here.
Visit Martine’s website here.
* The answer (of course) is an eye!