Historical Fiction Virtual Blog Tours Presents….
A Murder By Any Name
By Suzanne M. Wolfe
When a brutal murder threatens the sanctity of the Elizabethan court, it’s up to a hot-tempered spy to save the day.
The court of Elizabeth I is no stranger to plotting and intrigue, but the royal retinue is thrown into chaos when the Queen’s youngest and sweetest lady-in-waiting is murdered, her body left on the high altar of the Chapel Royal in Whitehall Palace. Solving the murder will require the cunning and savvy possessed by only one man. Enter Nicholas Holt, younger brother of the Earl of Blackwell—spy, rake, and owner of the infamous Black Sheep tavern in the seedy district of Bankside. Nick quickly learns that working for the Queen is a mixed blessing. Elizabeth—salty-tongued, vain, and fiercely intelligent—can, with a glance, either reward Nick with a purse of gold or have his head forcibly removed.
When a second lady-in-waiting is slain at Whitehall, the court once again reels with shock and dismay. On the trail of a diabolical killer, Nick and his faithful sidekick—an enormous Irish Wolfhound named Hector—are treading on treacherous ground, and only the killer’s head on a platter can keep them in the Queen’s good graces.
“[A] promising series launch… Fans of Elizabethan historicals will be satisfied.”
“An excellent series kickoff by Wolfe that cleverly highlights both the mystery and the many ills of Elizabethan times.”
What inspired me to write
A Murder By Any Name.
Growing up in Britain, we often went to see ancient homes and castles. You can’t go far without being reminded of the presence of the past. When I was little, one of my favorite games was to play Robin Hood and Maid Marian in Sherwood Forest.
When I first applied to Oxford University, I chose history. I didn’t get in on my first attempt and chose literature the next time around, but the two subjects have been closely intertwined for me ever since.
At Oxford I spent three years wandering around an ancient, medieval city: going to tutorials in thirteenth-century rooms with slanting oak floors and stone casement windows; attending evensong in Christ Church Chapel, a college founded by Henry VIII in 1546; shopping for groceries at the centuries-old covered market where pheasants and ducks hung from butchers’ stalls and great wheels of cheese on beds of parsley were displayed in cheese shops; hurrying past the ruins of Oxford Castle and the old city wall on the way to the train station.
Far from inuring me to history, this close contact with the past ignited my imagination and love for both reading and writing historical fiction.
As a child, my favorite books were stories set in the distant past. I loved opening the page and stepping into a time so completely removed from my own. I devoured authors like Geoffrey Trease, Henry Treece, Rosemary Sutcliff, Cynthia Harnett, Joan Aiken, Barbara Willard, Leon Garfield, and many other great twentieth-century writers for children.
As a teen, I remember visiting Gawsworth Hall in Cheshire. Built in 1480, it was the home of Mary Fitton, one of Elizabeth the First’s ladies in waiting, and believed by some to be the “dark lady” of Shakespeare’s sonnets.
Gawsworth Hall is a classic black and white timber-framed Tudor manor with beautiful formal gardens. I remember being completely enchanted by the house, picturing those long dead Tudor inhabitants going about their daily lives: the ladies gathering their skirts in their hands as they mounted the stairs, or harvesting lavender and herbs from their garden, or sewing from the light of the mullioned windows in the upper solar. The gentlemen playing bowls on the front lawn or riding off to hunt.
Although I did not make a conscious decision to write historical fiction, my love of history found its way into my first novel. Even though the novel Unveiling (Paraclete Press, 2004/2018) is set in contemporary Rome, there is a strong historical element to the plot, which centers on the restoration of a late medieval triptych in an ancient church.
My next novel, The Confessions of X (HCC, 2016), was set in ancient Carthage during the last decades of the Roman Empire and gave voice to Saint Augustine’s concubine, a woman lost to history.
A Murder by Any Name (Crooked Lane Books, 2018) is the first in a mystery series set in Elizabethan England. The plot of the first novel occurs in 1585: it is centered in the Palace of Whitehall. The second takes place the following year, set mainly in the streets of London.
I was always fascinated by Tudor history—Henry VIII and his six wives; the execution of Mary, Queen of Scots in 1587; the invasion of the Spanish Armada in 1588. It is a time period chock-a-block with drama and intrigue worthy of the plays of the Bard himself. And at the center of the drama is the glittering presence of the Virgin Queen, Elizabeth I herself: witty, acerbic, gorgeously appareled, and with the power of life and death over her subjects.
For me, the past has not vanished. Rather, it is hidden from view, like a far country. I would like to think that my Elizabethan mystery series can transport the reader to that country where the inhabitants of Elizabeth’s court plot and gossip, dance and laugh; where the streets of sixteenth century London ring with the sounds of a busy, raucous, thriving metropolis and the chiming of a thousand church bells.
During the Blog Tour we will be giving away 3 hardcover copies of A Murder By Any Name! To enter, click HERE!
• Giveaway ends at 11:59pm EST on January 17th. You must be 18 or older to enter.
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• Winner has 48 hours to claim prize or new winner is chosen.
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Suzanne M. Wolfe
Suzanne M. Wolfe grew up in Manchester, England and read English Literature at Oxford University, where she co-founded the Oxford C.S. Lewis Society. She served as Writer in Residence at Seattle Pacific University and taught literature and creative writing there for nearly two decades. Wolfe is the author of three novels: A Murder by Any Name, The Confessions of X, and Unveiling.
Thirty years ago, she and her husband, Gregory Wolfe, co-founded Image, a journal of the arts and faith. They have also co-authored many books on literature and prayer including Books That Build Character: How to Teach Your Child Moral Values Through Stories, and Bless This House: Prayers For Children and Families. Her essays and blog posts have appeared in Image and other publications. She and her husband are the parents of four grown children. They live in Richmond Beach, Washington.
For more information, please visit Suzanne M. Wolfe’s website. You can also find her on Facebook, Twitter, and Goodreads.
What a fascinating post! Thank you so much for hosting, MaryAnne!ReplyDelete
Always a pleasure!Delete
Great post! I love literature that is authentic to its setting and history. I have long been a fan of Suzanne's books and enjoyed reading that her young dreams becoming reality in her new mystery novel. Looking forward to reading the next story in the series.ReplyDelete
Great post. How wonderful to be steeped in such fascinating history since childhood!ReplyDelete
I agree, Suzanne, historic houses can be terrific inspiration for stories.ReplyDelete