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Fans of light historical mysteries are sure to be amused.

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Adaptation by either of the latter will boost sales of the book down the road. View Full Version of PW. A Countess Ashby de la Zouche Mystery. More By and About This Author. Discover what to read next. I'm going to lie down and think of kittens, and dew-drops, and such. View all 3 comments. Apr 20, Marnie rated it really liked it Shelves: I started reading this thinking it would be a typical historical mystery and quickly disabused myself of that notion.

Think Monty Python meets Mrs. Once I wrapped my head around the fact that this book was a farce I enjoyed the ride. The opening scene, where the Countess and her eventual sidekick Alpiew are introduced to the reader, had me laughing out loud. The author obviously did her research and was historically accurate about the times.

The Countess and Alpiew were well developed and I started reading this thinking it would be a typical historical mystery and quickly disabused myself of that notion. The Countess and Alpiew were well developed and I enjoyed them. The one drawback was the mystery itself- even when it was explained to me I still didn't follow the clues. I enjoyed the characters and the setting and the witty banter spread throughout the book. I think the author did a great job helping me visualize Restoration London, I read that this story might be developed into a television series- I will be watching!

A former mistress of King Charles 11, fallen on hard times, is forced to become a hack for a local Scandal Sheet,,in cahoots with her former Maid And here is where i give my Warning: This book is a wonderful Comedy of Manners.. Ms Morgan is an expert in Restoration Comedy.. I loved this book for the Comedy I needed a good laugh.. May 03, Gail rated it liked it. It's not light, for me, because it's crammed full of Restoration-speak and references that I wasn't quite equipped to muddle through. So, a bit slow-going at first, but nonetheless fascinating and fun.

The mystery had me going until the end, and the characters were funny and engaging and delightfully odd.

UNNATURAL FIRE: A Countess Ashby de la Zouche Mystery

What struck me, though "Romp" is exactly the right word for this book, although I didn't find it particularly light reading, which would seem counter-intuitive to a romp, but there you have it. What struck me, though, was that this would have been well-suited for a more visual representation: This isn't surprising, considering the author is a playwright.

There are elements of the theater throughout, too: All in all, a fun read, and I'll pick up the next one. Dec 11, Almeta rated it really liked it Shelves: Really a fun series. What a great pair the brash Countess and her resourceful "maid" are! Nov 13, Carole-Ann rated it it was ok Shelves: Since I spent my teenage years in Ashby-de-la-Zouch Leicestershire I thought an historical mystery might be a good option. Not good enough to remember years later.

Dec 30, Lucy rated it really liked it.

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Better than expected and I will read more in the series. Apr 27, Belinda rated it it was ok. This has, as Val McDermid said it is quoted on the cover of my book "a heady compound of wit, wisdom and wildness", but not in spades. I'd say it is a tangled mass of historical tidbits, intrigue, and silliness. It reads as an overwritten but pleasantly amusing script for something not as good as Blackadder but trying to get there.

When I say trying to get there sometimes it is bloody trying, other times it is amusing but forgettable. Likes - the main characters aren't bad. I like that they're a This has, as Val McDermid said it is quoted on the cover of my book "a heady compound of wit, wisdom and wildness", but not in spades. I like that they're all women and semi-intelligent among all the bawdiness and twists, although the code - that was like pulling teeth.

I think Morgan can write quite well. It's obvious that there was quite a bit of research into London life in The pace is good for the most part. Dislikes - it is definitely overwritten. There are repetitions, too many quaint little words and phrases that are sometimes explained, sometimes not, but need to be.

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I don't want to google every word and dish peculiar to that period. Then there were the modern bits squeezed in - no doubt to give us all a boom-boom moment a la Bruce Forsythe - LeRoy was here - no le Roi was here - boom, boom. Finally, and perhaps the worst of it, is that just too much was added to the mix.


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I know it wasn't meant to be a Hilary Mantell, nor does it have to be, but alchemy, sex, love, murder, potential blackmail, a creepy husband, detective work, corrupt lawyers, plays, politics, boobs, running to the wharf, running around London backstreets, mad rides out to the country, transvestites, another trek through either mud, poo, or fields, wine, Isaac Newton, cemeteries and blood…. You can be funny and not have everyone running around like Benny Hill and his bald sidekick - except they'd be called Count Benji Le Terrain a Slope Slope if they'd been named by Morgan.

This much cramming took it through a continuum starting with a mickey take to try-hard 3rd rate humour that a 9 year old might laugh at if it didn't have references to rumpy pumpy snigger. So did it do what it set out to do? Yes, it was a good romp, but no way was it witty or wise. I do recommend it as a light read though. But I won't read any more of her books. Sep 24, Martin rated it liked it Shelves: Countess Ashby de la Zouche and her maid Alpiew trample around England during the Restoration period to uncover a mystery that reaches from the darkest alley to the highest wardrobe.

As they run around London in the year they meet people from all walks of life and engage in every possible adventure that period had to offer. I think I must have read this book with a skewed eye. I was expecting a historical murder mystery but instead this novel is a historical farce that plays lightly with mys Countess Ashby de la Zouche and her maid Alpiew trample around England during the Restoration period to uncover a mystery that reaches from the darkest alley to the highest wardrobe.

I was expecting a historical murder mystery but instead this novel is a historical farce that plays lightly with mystery themes. Although the facts and figures in this novel are allegedly accurate, it is difficult to not keeping thinking some aspects are drastically exaggerated. The Countess Ashby runs around London as if wearing modern day jeans and without any hint of where the knowledge came from explains to everyone in the last few pages how the whole story sticks together.

Even though the Countess is portrayed as a rather thick headed mistress of money, she apparently solves mysteries even Sir Isaac Newton could not untangle. Again, if you read this novel for what it is: Even though many times I was frustrated I did enjoy this book for what it was: Jul 25, Audra Unabridged Chick rated it really liked it Shelves: Abandoned years ago by her ner-do-well husband, Anastasia is in debtors prison, struggling to eke out a living selling gossip to newspapers. After a quick reunion with Alpiew, they begin working together to make ends meet, and are hired to follow a noblewoman's philandering husband.

Unsurprisingly, things are more complicated than they first appear, and much intrigue develops as the two women delve into the world of alchemists and actors. I'm a lazy reader when it comes to thrillers and mysteries: I don't like to guess who the culprit is; because of that, I am terrible at evaluating how tight the plot twists are. I found the conclusion to be a bit outlandish, but it doesn't jar with the tenor of the entire novel: Overall, a quick and fun read. The second book in the series, The Rival Queens, waits on my nightstand for a suitably slow weekend.

Mar 21, Angie Boyter rated it did not like it Shelves: Very disappointing on two levels. This could have been fun, but it was totally lacking in subtlety, and ALL of the characters I met in the first chapter were people I did not have any desire to know better In addition, although the author alerts people that this is not a history book, I DO expect some conscientious attempt to get things right when you are giving what you call "History", which is the title of a section in the back of the book.


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  7. In that section she says, with no qualifiers Very disappointing on two levels. In that section she says, with no qualifiers,that Isaac Newton was a homosexual. A VERY simple review, e. This has led some to speculate he might have been homosexual. It is a VERY open question. To show him as homosexual in a work of fiction might be defensible; to say he was homosexual in the appendix is not, in my opinion. Feb 25, Lacey rated it liked it. I really liked parts of this book and didn't like others.

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    I like Alpiew, I can totally understand how having big breasts keep getting her in trouble. The countess on the other hand had moments of compassion and lucidity but other times was completely in her own reality. How she could ever let her husband come back and the ending I'm having a hard time trying to comprehend their completely penniless state to her still being a somewhat respectable member of society.

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    And the whole myster I really liked parts of this book and didn't like others. And the whole mystery that they try to solve throughout the book takes this really strange twist and is wrapped up rather quickly and ended up having very little to do with the actual mystery they were investigating. I'm on to the next book but this was a bit inconsistant. Apr 04, Bronagh Miskelly rated it liked it Shelves: I enjoyed much of the first of this historical mystery series featuring two eccentric down-at-heel ex-royal mistresses apparently based on real people and the maid of one of them in late 17th century London.

    There is lots of historical detail and a clear plot involving alchemy, royalty and much more. What didn't work for me was the inconsistent comic style - this has clearly been influenced by the restoration comedy theatre style of the period about which the author is an expert but it sometim I enjoyed much of the first of this historical mystery series featuring two eccentric down-at-heel ex-royal mistresses apparently based on real people and the maid of one of them in late 17th century London.

    What didn't work for me was the inconsistent comic style - this has clearly been influenced by the restoration comedy theatre style of the period about which the author is an expert but it sometimes clashes with the rest of the story. That said I've never been a big fan of restoration comedy least favourite part of by drama school, even counting the bad fall off a set during some Gorky I expect I will continue with the series because I'm interested to see how it pans out I grinned and chuckled my way through this.

    It's a historical comedy whodunnit romp and, looking at other reviews, I guess it falls into the Marmite category. I loved it, and I really hadn't been sure I would. The characters are over-the-top, the setting London in was intriguing, I didn't guess who committed the murder, but I'm sure I should have - the clues were there.

    A great fun I grinned and chuckled my way through this. A great fun read with a surprising amount of historical detail - I'll definitely read the others in the series, and I'll probably read up a bit on restoration England before I do. I really didn't think I was going to like it at first The writing and language of the book were a bit strange for me at first but later became quite endearing. I especially liked how the author used modern phrases although the book was set in the 's I think- I'm horrible with history, I know it said in the book but I forget: Anyway the little jokes were kind of a little nod to the modern reader.

    A fun little mystery this book was strange. A fun little mystery with fun elements and puzzles that somewhat reminded me of 'The DaVinci Code' although not as involved Actually, it's 'currently re-reading. History isn't all that far from fiction, after all