A Murder By Any Name by Suzanne M. Wolfe
Publication Date: October 9, 2018
Crooked Lane Books
Hardcover & eBook; 326 Pages
Genre: Historical Mystery
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.
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Praise for A Murder By Any Name
“[A] promising series launch… Fans of Elizabethan historicals will be satisfied.” ―Publishers Weekly
“An excellent series kickoff by Wolfe that cleverly highlights both the mystery and the many ills of Elizabethan times.” ―Kirkus Reviews
“In vivid passages, Suzanne Wolfe’s novel brings to the reader the light and dark of Elizabethan England, its squalor and splendor, filth and riches, intrigues and delights.” ―NY Journal of Books
“A deeply atmospheric and richly textured Elizabethan mystery... I was captivated by Nicholas and Hector as they navigated court treachery and the dark recesses of the lower classes in this compelling Elizabethan mystery.” ―Shelley Freydont, New York Times bestselling author
"Wolfe’s descriptions are unparalleled, immersing the reader in the time period as they join her wily protagonist on his quest to catch a cold-hearted killer.” ―Anna Lee Huber, bestselling author of the Lady Darby Mysteries
"I stayed up reading much too late to finish this book! Wonderful Elizabethan atmosphere, well-drawn and unusual characters, action and intrigue and excitement―I felt like I was in the 1570s" ―Amanda Carmack, award-winning author of the Elizabethan mysteries
“Bewitching! Suzanne Wolfe opens the door to Elizabethan life through her masterful creation of the sympathetic spy, Nicholas Holt. An exciting start to a promising new historical mystery series.” ―Naomi Hirahara, Edgar Award-winning author of the Mas Arai series
“A classically plotted whodunit set against the background of Elizabethan London and the court of Queen Elizabeth the First, both of them well researched and vividly realized, with a wealth of detail. One can almost smell the reek of the 16th century streets and waterways.” ―Fiona Buckley, author of the Ursula Blanchard Elizabethan mysteries
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.
The Black Sheep Tavern, Bankside
The Honorable Nicholas Holt, younger brother of Robert, Earl of Blackwell, lately returned from spying for the queen on the Continent, was dreaming of white, willing female flesh, his lips grazing over smooth pearlescent thighs, lute-flaring hips and upwards to what he confidently anticipated to be pillowy and perfectly rounded breasts, murmuring endearments, if not of love, then those guaranteed to induce enthusiastic cooperation—“sweetheart,” “my Venus,” even the low and surprising moan, “Mouse.” The only fly in the ointment was an inhumanly pitched shrieking that kept putting him off his amatory stride.
“RISE AND SHINE, RISE AND SHINE, RISE AND SHINE…”
“I’m risen,” he growled.
“Evidently,” a voice said.
Nick blearily became aware that the voice was male and could not possibly have emanated from the lips of his dream-goddess. At the same time her flesh began to melt, oozing unpleasantly through his fingers like marchpane on a hot summer’s day at the fair until she was gone. In its place a horde of blacksmiths set up shop inside his skull and started clanging away.
“John,” Nick said without opening his eyes. “Be a pal and sod off.” And, as an afterthought: “And shut that bloody parrot up before I stuff it up your arse.”
The shrieking subsided to low avian grumblings as John Stockton, Nick’s friend and companion in arms, threw a cloak over the stand where Bess, said parrot, was chained. Next he shook Nick who was sprawled on a bench in a corner of the taproom of The Black Sheep, the tavern Nick owned and John ran. A raspy, wet tongue began to slaver Nick’s face.
“Cut it out, Hector,” he muttered, pushing the big canine muzzle away.
“Nick,” John said. “There’s an urgent message from your brother.”
“He can sod off, too.” But something in John’s voice made Nick open his eyes. “What’s wrong?”
“It’s Sir Edward Carew’s daughter.”
Nick sat up quickly, then regretted it, as the room tilted and his stomach lurched. Hector, his enormous Irish Wolfhound, so massive the shaggy head was on a level with his own, was regarding him with reproachful eyes. Nick had fought beside Sir Edward, visiting his manor in Herefordshire many times. He recalled Cecily as a shy, dreamy girl with long fair hair and guileless cornflower blue eyes. As he grew accustomed to the shuttered gloom of the taproom, he recognized an adolescent boy in the livery of his brother standing near the door, face taut, eyes black holes in a white face.
“What’s amiss, Alan?” he asked, pulling on his boots and buckling on his sword belt. Black wings began to beat inside his chest.
“It’s Lady Cecily,” the lad replied. “She’s been murdered.” Then he burst into tears.
The corridor outside the chapel was in an uproar, a seething mass of plush taffeta brocade, and the humbler fustian as nobles, pages, and servants jostled one another and craned their necks to see through the crossed pikes of the two stony-faced Royal Guards positioned at the door. Nick pushed his way through the crowd, the page boy Alan at his heels, Hector padding silently behind, a path magically opening up around him like Moses parting the Red Sea as people shied away from this canine monster.
Nick had questioned Alan closely as they were being rowed across the river in the wherry Robert had sent to fetch him, a river-crossing being quicker than attempting London Bridge on foot or even on horseback with its throngs of pedestrians and lumbering carts. All the boy could tell him was that at first light, when the Queen and her ladies had gone to the chapel for morning prayers, they had discovered Lady Cecily’s body.
“Let me pass,” Nick said.
The guards’ expressions did not change, the wickedly sharp pikes remaining resolutely crossed. Nick sighed.
“Robert,” he shouted. “Tell these trained monkeys to stand aside.”
“Let him pass,” a voice ordered. Wood clashed on stone as the guards came to attention, pikes smartly brought into the upright position.
“Majesty,” Nick said, belatedly catching sight of a froth of red curls just inside the door. He gave a small bow, all he could manage in the cramped space, then entered the chapel.
“Thank you, Alan,” Nick said, touching the boy gently on the shoulder. “Tell the earl I will speak with him later.” Nick saw his brother Robert with an arm awkwardly about the shoulders of Sir Edward Carew, who was sitting on the altar steps, face buried in his hands, shoulders heaving although not a sound escaped. Alan nodded and went to stand beside them.
The queen was striding up and down the center aisle, her inner circle watching from the pews with pale, strained faces. Off to one side, the white-haired Baron Burghley, the queen’s chief advisor and Lord Treasurer, was whispering urgently in the ear of Sir Francis Walsingham, Secretary of State. One young boy in a white surplice, one of the choristers, was throwing up in the corner. Even the queen’s fool was silent, standing forlornly off to one side like a forgotten child. As Nick approached, the queen abruptly stopped and whirled around. Two bright spots of color burned on her cheeks, and her brown eyes bore into him like gimlets. He recognized the signs: the queen was afraid and because she was afraid, enraged.
“Disperse those ghouls,” she bellowed. “It’s not a God-damned cock-fight.”
Monday, December 17 Review at Passages to the Past Tuesday, December 18 Excerpt at Let Them Read Books Wednesday, December 19 Review at Pursuing Stacie Guest Post at Jathan & Heather Thursday, December 20 Feature at The Lit Bitch Review at Peppermint Ph.D. Friday, December 21 Feature at What Is That Book About Sunday, December 23 Review at Carole's Ramblings Thursday, December 27 Review & Interview at Jorie Loves a Story Friday, December 28 Review at Tar Heel Reader Review at Amy's Booket List Monday, December 31 Review at Tudor Enthusiast Wednesday, January 2 Excerpt at Encouraging Words from the Tea Queen Thursday, January 3 Excerpt at T's Stuff Guest Post at Myths, Legends, Books & Coffee Pots Friday, January 4 Review at 100 Pages a Day Monday, January 7 Review at Historical Fiction with Spirit Tuesday, January 8 Guest Post at On the Tudor Trail Wednesday, January 9 Review at Reading the Past Thursday, January 10 Review at Broken Teepee Review at Clarissa Reads it All Friday, January 11 Feature at The Book Junkie Reads Feature at View from the Birdhouse Monday, January 14 Review at Maiden of the Pages Tuesday, January 15 Interview at Passages to the Past Wednesday, January 16 Review at A Book Geek Thursday, January 17 Review at Coffee and Ink Review at CelticLady's Reviews
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