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The Bookseller's Tale (Oxford Medieval Mysteries) (Volume 1) Paperback – June 18, 2016
"Rebound" by Kwame Alexander
Don't miss best-selling author Kwame Alexander's "Rebound," a new companion novel to his Newbery Award-winner, "The Crossover,"" illustrated with striking graphic novel panels. Pre-order today
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About the Author
Ann Swinfen is the author of the highly acclaimed series, The Chronicles of Christoval Alvarez. Set in the late sixteenth century, it features a young Marrano physician recruited as a code-breaker and spy in Walsingham’s secret service. In order, the books are: The Secret World of Christoval Alvarez, The Enterprise of England, The Portuguese Affair, Bartholomew Fair, Suffer the Little Children, Voyage to Muscovy and The Play’s the Thing. Her Fenland Series takes place in East Anglia during the seventeenth century. In the first book, Flood, both men and women fight desperately to save their land from greedy and unscrupulous speculators. The second, Betrayal, continues the story of the dangerous search for legal redress and security for the embattled villagers, at a time when few could be trusted. Her latest series, Oxford Medieval Mysteries, is set in the fourteenth century and features bookseller Nicholas Elyot, a young widower with two small children, and his university friend Jordain Brinkylsworth, who are faced with crime in the troubled world following the Black Death. The first book in the series is The Bookseller’s Tale. She has also written two standalone novels. The Testament of Mariam, set in the first century, recounts, from an unusual perspective, one of the most famous and yet ambiguous stories in human history, while exploring life under a foreign occupying force, in lands still torn by conflict to this day. This Rough Ocean is based on the real-life experiences of the Swinfen family during the 1640s, at the time of the English Civil War, when John Swynfen was imprisoned for opposing the killing of the king, and his wife Anne had to fight for the survival of her children and dependents. She now lives on the northeast coast of Scotland, with her husband, formerly vice-principal of the University of Dundee, and a rescue cat called Maxi. www.annswinfen.com
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Taking my usual taste into consideration ought to be sufficient for many other historical fiction/mystery aficionados, so I will not go into the details of this book; suffice it to say, I agree with what another reviewer said: This book is a *gift*. I could not have been more raptly absorbed by any other historical fiction book I've read to date. I devoured this one in less than two days (no mean feat... I have seven children), then promptly downloaded the second book in this series, and finished it in a day. I was disappointed to the point of frustrated depression that there is not yet a third book available! (But slightly mollified to read at Ann Swinfen's website that book 3 will hopefully debut in March... I've waited longer for less worthy successive texts.). I cannot recommend this jewel enough. It's one that I intend to purchase the paperback copy of, to add to my hand-picked legion of Most Worthy books on my largest bookcase. If you're wavering, don't; I promise you will be drawn in and fall in love before the end of the first chapter.
I've only just recently discovered Ann Swinfen. It's like a valuable gift that is unexpected. I fully intend to read as many books as she has written. I hope she adds to this series soon and frequently.
I'll give this author another chance--will read her next novel set in the same place and time with some of the same characters--in the hope that she actually can write a compelling and suspenseful mystery... But only one more chance!
Like the same author's Chronicles of Christoval Alvarez and The Testament of Mariam, both of which I love, this is a fast-moving tale with vivid characters and a rich sense of the historical background, delivered in ways that never overwhelm the story. I no sooner finished it than I dove into The Novice's Tale. And the only thing that keeps me from yearning for book 3 is that the eighth Christoval novel came out today.
So, why four stars? Once I decided to ignore the gaffes and quirks, and concentrate instead on the story itself, I discovered that Ms. Swinfen weaves a very good tale. I finished the book quickly, not because it was too simple a read, or because I'm a fast reader, but because I cared about the characters (who, I assume, will be even more fleshed-out in future installments), and because I really wanted to see what happened next. The ending wasn't a complete surprise, and I noticed one reviewer gave it away--for shame!--but getting to it was a fun ride! I've already bought and read the second installment. I'll review that next. (HINT: I liked that one too.)