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A Famine of Horses: A Sir Robert Carey Mystery Hardcover – March, 1995


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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Chisholm steeps her story in so much 16th-century atmosphere and historical detail that much in this British debut is slow going. When Sir Robert Carey, courtier to Queen Elizabeth, is transferred to the Scottish border, he finds many problems. His brother-in-law has appointed him Deputy Warden over Richard Lowther, who assumed he would get the job. Carey has to contend with Lowther and the distrustful Sergeant Henry Dodd, who has just found the body of the son of a powerful feudal lord. Carey must convince Dodd that stemming the lord's vengeful tendency and bringing the murderer to trial is the civilized way of justice. While looking for the killer, they stumble on the makings of a border attack, which Carey suspects is being masterminded locally. Chisholm's short digressions on the new concept of due process are thoughtful but blunted by archaic terms. And Carey, an upright courtier with the gift of guile, remains too distant, never fully retaining the reader's sympathies.
Copyright 1995 Reed Business Information, Inc.

From School Library Journal

YA?A fun detective-adventure set in Elizabethan England, with many period details included. Sir Robert Carey arrives at his new post of Warden just in time to help locate the murderer of Sweetmilk Graham and prevent the escalation of a clan feud. The characters are unique individuals who often come alive through witty dialogue as they tease or argue with one another. Tension develops when Carey goes undercover as a peddler into the enemy's castle. The book is for more sophisticated readers, as many allusions and British terms of the time period are not defined in context, and there is no list of characters to help sort out identities and allegiances. Purchase for good readers who like historical fiction.?Claudia Moore, W.T. Woodson High School, Fairfax, VA
Copyright 1995 Reed Business Information, Inc.
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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 270 pages
  • Publisher: Walker & Co (March 1995)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0802732526
  • ISBN-13: 978-0802732521
  • Product Dimensions: 1.2 x 6 x 8.5 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.3 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (133 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,933,554 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

4.3 out of 5 stars

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

23 of 23 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on February 15, 2001
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
This is entertainment at its best. This book features authentic history and period detail cloaked in a rollicking story about wonderful characters. It is funny, touching and full of adventure. You'll love the hero (based on a real person), and the rest of the cast of characters are equally entertaining.
The writing throughout is excellent, with sparkling dialogue and just enough period descritpion that you'll swear you are actually there in Carlisle in 1592.
It is billed as a mystery, which is a little of a misnomer. There is a dead body and a search for the killer, but that is just one element among many. This book is hard to characterize; maybe "period adventure" fits it best. But even at its most exciting, it remains light-hearted.
Highly recommended.
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17 of 17 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on May 7, 2000
Format: Paperback
"Famine of Horses" is the first title in the Sir Robert Carey Mystery series, and what a promising series it is! I was pleased to hear Poisoned Pen Press will be reprinting the other three titles in the series.
The year is 1592, the Elizabethan period. Sir Robert Carey, a courtier, along with his servant, Barnabus Cooke has left the Queens court. Sir Robert is now the Deputy Warden of an English Garrison run by his brother-in-law, Warden Lord Scrope. As the new Deputy Warden, Robert has his hands full trying to clean up a dishonest league of men, getting the garrison in order, solving the murder a young lad, putting together his brother-in-law's father's funeral, and finding out why there is such a shortage of horses - hence the title Famine of Horses.
Our hero is a strong honest man; it was hard watching him take such a beating both physically from others and emotionally from the woman he loves. I found his servant to be funny, although a little uppity. Philly is a typical sister and I admire Robert for his loyalty to her. I'm still out on Philly's husband. The story lines pulled together quite well. I found the historical aspects of the mystery to be factual and fascinating. The speech and atmosphere seemed so clear; I could easily visualize the surroundings and the characters. It's a wonderful historical mystery.
Brenda @ MyShelf.Com
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10 of 10 people found the following review helpful By Kay L. Robart on March 27, 2000
Format: Paperback
Although a little thin in the mystery department, A Famine of Horses presents us with an interesting, entertaining character, authentic-seeming details of Elizabethan life, and lots of action. Sir Robert Carey arrives in the borderlands of England/Scotland to take on the job of Assistant Warden and has to cope with a jealous rival, a funeral procession lacking horses, a dead body with dangerous, revengeful relatives, and the arrival of his lady love--married, of course. How Sir Robert solves both mysteries, of the disappearing horses and the body, makes a fun read that you want to gallop through to the end! I have never read any of this series before and am looking forward to more.
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9 of 9 people found the following review helpful By Amazon Customer on November 17, 2002
Format: Paperback
The setting is the Northern border of England. Our hero is Robert Carey, the son of Lord Hundson, Queen Elizabeth's Lord Chamberlain and her first cousin through their mothers', Mary and Ann Boleyn. Hundson is also, however, in this novel, historically he may not have been, the bastard son of Henry VIII. So Robert Carey, new deputy warden, more like sheriff really, of one the two main border keeps, is the grandson of the late great Tudor king himself. Unfortunately, Carey's noble bloodlines and his courtier experience is not going to matter a jot to the rough hewn Scottish and English clans around the border. Their main interests are feuding, cattle and horse "reiving," an old word for rustling, and occasionally killing each other. Carey's brother-in-law, Lord Scrope has just become Warden of the March after the death of his father. Unfortunately for everyone Lord Scrope is not exactly brilliant, even if his wife, Carey's sister, Lady Philadelphia, is plenty smart. Meanwhile, the dead body of Sweetmilk Graham, favorite son of one of the leading clan chiefs, Jock of Peartree, has just been discovered on an old battlefield. Jock thinks he knows who did it and wants to pursue a vendetta against Carey's new local man, Seargent Dodd, while Carey isn't so sure, and would like to introduce the concept of Justice to the lawless frontier. Not that anyone on the lawless frontier cares. Carey is willing to go to great lengths and place himself in the middle of a mysterious anti-royal plot to prove his mettle, solve the mystery of Sweetmilk's murder, bring the murderer to Justice, and incidentally find out why all the horses south of the border have suddenly disappeared. But his love, Lady Elizabeth Widdrington, is the real reason he's turned up in these parts.Read more ›
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful By Greg House on September 24, 2011
Format: Paperback
It is now, some fifteen years since I first came across this the first of PF Chisholm's Sir Robert Carey novels set in the politically complex Tudor England of the 1590s'. Queen Elizabeth's fleet has beaten back the famed Armada and that threat at least for time has diminished and the kingdom basks in relative peace. However the northern border with Scotland it is not so quiet. Murder, cattle reiving and tower burning are all too common occurrences. So one more dead body found in the Debatable Lands shouldn't make that much difference, except when it's a Graham, and the head of that surname has a nasty reputation for vengeance. In to this cauldron of trouble steps Sir Robert Carey newly appointed Deputy Warden of the Western Marches. What Sergeant Dodd of the Carlisle garrison thinks of his new commander probably shouldn't be put in print, but between them Cary and Dodd they have to solve two mysteries the ill timed murder of a Graham and the sudden `Famine of Horses of the title'. Alright that hasn't given away anything that isn't apparent from a quick view of the back cover blurb. As to the quality of the story, in short it is superb. PF Chisholm has a fine grasp of the character's traits, they are all so very human and compelling. Sergeant Dodd for one is the epitome of the dour northerner with a wry sense of humour and an intelligence that shouldn't be underrated. As for Cary he comes with a very interesting history, he has to head north to escape his London creditors and recoup the fortune he doesn't have. I'm not give much away in saying that his father Lord Hunsdon is the son of Mary Boleyn and that it is said he bore an uncanny resemblance to Henry VIII. That hint alone should wet your interest.Read more ›
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