Blog Book Tour | “The Service of the Dead” (Book No.1 of the Kate Clifford Mysteries) by Candace Robb An author I was must curious to read left me hungry for more of her collective works!

Posted Thursday, 6 July, 2017 by jorielov , , , 0 Comments

Book Review badge created by Jorie in Canva using photography (Creative Commons Zero).

Acquired Book By: I am a regular tour hostess for blog tours via Historical Fiction Virtual Book Tours whereupon I am thankful to have been able to host such a diverse breadth of stories, authors and wonderful guest features since I became a hostess! The interesting bit to note is I am happily reading the first two Kate Clifford Mysteries for this particular blog tour; thereby this is the first post in a series of two reviews.  I received a complimentary copy of “The Service of the Dead” direct from the publisher Pegasus Books in exchange for an honest review. I did not receive compensation for my opinions or thoughts shared herein.

Why I cannot turn my eye away from a Cosy Historical Mystery, especially one I previously earmarked to read:

There is something quite wonderful about the artful approach writers take to curate the world inside of a Cosy Historical Mystery. I have personally become quite addicted by these worlds – wherein it is a ready hobby of mine to seek out #newtomeauthors who are writing this extraordinary niche inside my beloved Historical Fiction! The truly interesting thing is how I had previously discovered Ms Robb’s Kate Clifford series!

You see, I have a particular interest in these lovelies – one of my most beloved being the Lady Darby mysteries but there are others, dear hearts – such as the Lucy Campion series and several others, such as the Hiro Hattori novels by Susan Spann! I honestly love the chance to curl inside these eloquently written mysteries, as I am either about to delve into a rather sinister plot which is not easily solved until the ending chapters and/or I am enticed through a new portal of the historical past I simply cannot wish to extract myself anytime soon! This is perhaps why the Cosy Historical Mysteries appeal to me as much as they do – they combine certain strongholds of bookish joy (ie. the historical past, wicked good murderous suspense, a champion of a strong lead by which to rally behind and a tucked away setting not yet known) whilst giving me a good read which might give me goosebumps before the story concludes!

It was due to my fascination with early Forensics and seeking stories of a similar vein of the Lady Darby series – I quite readily spied the Kate Clifford series! I was on a library’s website (not my own; one of the lovelies I found whilst seeking where to travel) who had this charmingly brilliant way of finding ‘if you love this story, you ought to read this one next’ which not only honed in on your sensibilities as a reader but it was quite bang-on the mark for understanding your own bookish tendencies without so much as going on much past book titles, author names and the quirky collection of sub-genres or themes of interest you devour regularly. I was quite smitten with the in-catalogue app – though it would pain me to admit, which library had this modern marvel eludes my memory! Remembering this series – much more important!

Imagine then, my earnest joy in finding this lovely series was being offered on a blog tour!? It felt rather kismet! I do love seeing the patterns of how books arrive in our lives and which books cycle through our conscience whilst reappearing lateron in a way we hadn’t foreseen? As I had readily felt I would be ILL’ing (inter-library loaning) these lovelies ahead of purchasing them for my own shelves… as having a humble budget, I seek out a heap of books to read per annum from my local library. The fact the publisher surprised me with *hardback editions!* is wicked sweet of them!

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Blog Book Tour | “The Service of the Dead” (Book No.1 of the Kate Clifford Mysteries) by Candace Robb An author I was must curious to read left me hungry for more of her collective works!The Service of the Dead

Expertly recreating the social and political upheavals of late medieval Europe, Candace Robb introduces a new series starring Kate Clifford, a woman forged on the warring northern marches of fourteenth century England.

Political unrest permeates York at the cusp of the fifteenth century, as warring factions take sides on who should be the rightful king–Richard II or his estranged, powerful cousin in exile, Henry Bolingbroke. Independent minded twenty-year-old Kate Clifford is struggling to dig out from beneath the debt left by her late husband. Determined to find a way to be secure in her own wealth and establish her independence in a male dominated society, Kate turns one of her properties near the minster into a guest house and sets up a business. In a dance of power, she also quietly rents the discreet bedchambers to the wealthy, powerful merchants of York for nights with their mistresses.

But the brutal murder of a mysterious guest and the disappearance of his companion for the evening threatens all that Kate has built. Before others in town hear word of a looming scandal, she must call upon all of her hard-won survival skills to save herself from ruin.

Places to find the book:

Borrow from a Public Library

Add to LibraryThing

Find on Book Browse

ISBN: 9781681771274

on 3rd May, 2016

Pages: 236

Published By: Pegasus Books (@pegasus_books)
Available Formats: Hardback & E-Book

The Kate Clifford Mysteries:
I personally love the cover art design on this series! There is something about it which lends well to the era in which they are set but also the appeal for those of us who crave a heroine out of a wicked good Cosy Historical Mystery!

The Service of the Dead by Candace RobbA Twisted Vengeance by Candace Robb

The Service of the Dead | Book One

A Twisted Vengeance | Book Two | Synopsis | *forthcoming review

Read this lovely Guest Post about the Kate Clifford series | via Patricia Bracewell

Converse via: #Cosy + #HistoricalMystery | #HistoricalMystery | #KateCliffordMysteries | #CandaceRobb

About Candace Robb

Candace Robb

Candace Robb did her graduate work in medieval literature and history, and has continued to study the period while working first as an editor of scientific publications and now for some years as a freelance writer. Candace has published 13 crime novels set in 14th century England, Wales, and Scotland. The Owen Archer series is based in York and currently extends over 10 novels beginning with THE APOTHECARY ROSE; the most recent is A VIGIL OF SPIES. The Margaret Kerr trilogy explores the early days of Scotland’s struggle again England’s King Edward I, and includes A TRUST BETRAYED, THE FIRE IN THE FLINT, and A CRUEL COURTSHIP.

Writing as Emma Campion, Candace has published historical novels about two fascinating women she encountered while researching the Owen Archer mysteries, Alice Perrers (THE KING’S MISTRESS) and Joan of Kent (A TRIPLE KNOT).

Candace was born in the Blue Ridge Mountains of North Carolina, grew up in Cincinnati, Ohio, and has lived most of her adult life in Seattle, Washington, which she and her husband love for its combination of natural beauty and culture. Candace enjoys walking, hiking, and gardening, and practices yoga and vipassana meditation. She travels frequently to Great Britain.

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Meeting kate clifford:

A strong sense of will is what you denote first about Ms Clifford – as she has the ability to see past the grim and bear the strength necessary to get ‘done’ what needs doing. We first meet her after a horrid accident takes place in front of her and due to her quick actions and fortitude of understanding the repercussions of such an accident, her actions are not in vain. Mind you, the others gathered near her are not equal in their understanding of such things as they are more linear than they are accepting of things which move mysteriously around them. You can gather quickly Ms Clifford isn’t one to project her own hopes onto situations but rather, sternly abides by the strength of her faith and the willfulness of each person to overcome the impossible if it is God’s will. A strong path to walk during the Medieval Age where superstition and the repression of religious thought was more paramount.

My review of the service of the dead:

As Ms Clifford was reflecting on the injurious nature of a servant’s diagnosis it reminded me of an event IRL where a motorcyclist had had a severe head injury – even if the cyclist appeared to survive unscathed at the time of impact. There are consequences which go unseen until a future date; which is why I was nodding in agreement as any injury to the brain is quite a dicey affair! We enter her life on an ordinary day but one strife with responsibilities and planning to be had – she has inbound guests (to her let out guesthouse) and despite the seriousness of this injury to a person of staff, it cannot forestall her willingness to carry-on. As we all can contend: circumstances notwithstanding, time does march forward with or without us. One thing you notice is how she thinks quickly about what she observes – she has a keen mind and she can assert things out of what she sees on a different level of understanding than most in her peerage, I suspect. A bit of a foreshadow of how she could be a willing player to sleuth – as part of what makes detecting the art it is to understand is the ability to see past what is being presented. To dig deeper into human behaviour and the elements in which others can use to deceive.

If I hadn’t been spending hours in late Spring watching Father Brown, I might not have found myself so readily agreeable to inserting myself into Ms Clifford’s world. As I must say – there are a few similarities – the quirkiness of knowing one’s position in a time of political uncertainty and of realising despite the odds, one must still do what one must to live authentically unto one’s own guiding compass of principle. And, like Father Brown – Ms Clifford cannot help but allow her mind to settle on darker thoughts when she crosses paths with men of suspicious intentions, motives and objectives. In the opening bridge of the novel – she reminded me dearly of why I love the Lady Emily series by Tasha Alexander. The two live in opposing generations and yet, so much remains the same – both are widowed and have to find a way to assert themselves both independent but worthy of keeping their station intact.

Intriguing how those in close confidence can conspire the most against you – or rather, to put it properly, seek to undermine your trust by bending the rules which were in place to keep everyone as safe as could be in the kind of enterprise Ms Clifford operates. Hers is not your traditional rooming house nor is it without it’s under the table frolics of those who seek to stay anonymously unknown. She was far ahead of her time in finding a way to curate an income to sustain herself but one which was on operating on both sides of the lines of law and order. I was not surprised then, as it spilt out in the second chapter Griselde was behind the subterfuge! Her very name hinted towards something untoward – confirmed after I researched it’s etymology! It eludes to something dark brewing or if you parlay a bit out from it’s direct meanings – perhaps someone who would cast the stone which would upset your cart the most? To draw out the supporting arm of your foundation? I love riddles but I also love how writers can lend more to a story simply by the choices they make in how they develop characters; even the secondary characters can lend themselves hours of contemplation – of why they were present and how they purported themselves into the framework of the evolving story can tell loads! The origins and meanings of names is a personal interest of mine; one I’ve had since I first sorted out I was a writer as a young girl.

Yet, all is not quite as it first appeared – not when Griselde was half caught between a lie and an omission of the fuller truth. Robb endears you to her even when you suspect her intentions. Her mannerisms and her personality are sometimes in direct conflict with each other, but it’s her earnestness which makes you rally after her even if it feels quite doomed this will let out in a positive way. She might be getting on in years but her fortitude to endure her fate and the lot in life she’s drawn is commendable. She doesn’t have it easy and yet, she carries on. Robb makes you consider and then re-consider the evidence as it’s being presented. A mark of a well-tuned mind for crafting mysteries – it’s the same effect of why I enjoy watching Columbo or Perry Mason; not everything can be threaded through a plausible ending as readily as facts reveal themselves. Sometimes you have to turn the facts right round to how the impression of what you think is happening could be the truth or it’s a lie hidden within the face of a mirrored reality which speaks closer to the truth not yet revealled.

You can readily understand why Ms Clifford felt stuck under a micro-slide – all her neighbours eyes casting their judgements on her behalf – seeking to find something of her character to be non-kosher in either appearance or behaviour. Small villages and townes have the benefit of being of tight community bonds but the difficulties therein lie in how little personal space you can maintain. In some ways, the pendulum swings both ways – to be serviceable in need and to be considerably arduous at any other time.

I had heard of Ms Clifford’s twin and of their twinning bond through the reading by the author prior to reading this declaration in the text (see video below this review) – having known twins IRL, I can attest to the claim. Twins share a unique bond to one another and it is quite true – it is not readily understood by medicine nor science but it is definitely felt and understood by twins. They share a unique perspective on life and per how they are bourne, they share a strong thread of connectiveness which goes beyond the traditional human experience. I was grateful to see this side of Ms Clifford’s intuitive nature; as it was wholly true she should still feel as close as she does to Geoff. I do appreciate metaphysical overtures if they are well-timed and well-placed; towards this end, I felt Geoff had a befitting place alongside Ms Clifford.

I loved too how she took to archery as a way of releasing pent-up emotional angst! She used arrows as a physical release of the anger and frustrations coarsing through her veins. Her mind was full of vexations and of the deaths she had endured. The arrows themselves were a method of purging those thoughts outside of her spirit and of finding a lightness she did not always feel afterwards.

The worst treachery is that which is done without your foreknowledge but a greater injustice is finding the dead on your property without any solid leads as to what caused the person to fall. One intriguing issue is how Ms Clifford justified her services to the ton and why her confidence in their discretion was nearly what undid her efforts to reverse the course her late husband cast onto her future. It is easy to judge her methods of becoming solvent but in an age where women were not meant to own their own property nor seek their own employment; I can see why she choose to take-on a service others would shy away from accepting. It was a live or die situation where dealing with the underworld was a small price to pay to dissolve the debts by a spouse who was the worst sort of cad of them all: he played her worse than a fiddle! He brokered against her empathy and had her believe he was in need of companionship when all along he had his own affairs separate from their marriage. It’s the kind of truth you don’t even have time to handle as too much happens after the sudden loss of the man you once felt could do no wrong.

The way in which the story is written – you can still see the innocence of Ms Clifford in her youthfulness of age. She dots on her wolfhounds because they are not only resilient companions but they give her the unconditional love and acceptance she is most in desire of receiving. In her haste to react to her sudden status of motherhood, she lost a fragile moment to make amends for the two children now kept in her ward. She finds ways to repair the first impression they received of her but in her actions, you can tell she is at a bit of a loss on how to proceed. Although, she had good instincts when the children share a bit of insight into their personalities – she tries to guide them towards their natural talents as best she can. For the situation, it is more than most would expect.

As the series shifts forward I look forward to seeing how Ms Clifford finds herself on more stable ground – potentially not as ensnared into scandal and innuendo as she had been this turnabout. There were lessons for her to learn here, though, especially in matters of business and of close confidantes where trust can sour with age. In the wider stage of things, it isn’t such a strong throw of a stone to hit the Royal Court nor to uncover a tie to the local governing body. There are schemes lining up outside Ms Clifford’s sphere and you can readily presume her footsteps have to remain cautious. It’s not a time to live for the faint nor the weak of spirit; it is for those with a bit of spunk and a determined grit to overcome any odd stacked against one’s destiny. In this, Robb gives us the best reason to champion her leading lady!

on the cosy historical mystery style of candace robb:

I had to smirk to myself when realisation dawned this first novel of the series, takes it’s title from the one play by Sir William which was a blight on my high school Shakespeare readings: Hamlet. I preferred Julius Caesar and the two pages from MacBeth (in order to aide a study group a year above me) to be honest. What was interesting is how Ms Robb breaks down the encompassing politico and intriguing circumstances of state (herein: Crown) which would seek to cause a heap of angst for Ms Clifford once cast into the fray. I appreciated this back-story prefaced to the opening bridge of the novel, as it lends itself an entry into the timescape whilst alerting your own mind to the ‘goings-on’ which might in effect cause distress lateron.

I truly love the inventiveness of writers – when you come across a chapter heading such as: A Runaway Wagon, A Box of Cinnamon – you almost instantly find favour with the author your reading! The image it paints to mind and the curious way in which you could be lead afoul from even realising it’s truer origins is what makes a wicked good title of a chapter! In this, Ms Robb hooked my eye and my curiosity in one swoop of her ink! Mind you, it’s the *14th Century* – hinting towards the end of the Medieval era whilst knowing full well how the Spice Trade and Route still had it’s further reach of effecting how people could secure the tasty edible delights by arduous distances and a lack of surplus for the growing demand of this ‘newer’ commerce. Cinnamon (of course!) was one of the most prized spices to get your hands on – and how many of us now, can attest to being addicted to it’s ‘scent’ and it’s use in baking, cooking and as our favourite ‘topper’ to lattes, chai or toast?

Robb has created a thinking man’s mystery – you have to peel back the layers (as you would an onion) to sort through how she’s drafted an intellectually intriguing tale. Having learnt her prior series #OwenArcher is interlinked into the #KateCliffordMysteries I must admit, the idea of back-tracing through the prior series to re-enter into the latter is going to be wicked sweet fun! (as foresaid on Twitter; the tweet is below this review) One reason I love reading Mysteries (and Suspense or Thrillers) and watching them is because of the exercise they give your mind! I find them as challenging to undertake as a stellar crossword! The intricacies abound and it is by moving in the directions the writer wishes you to traverse you not only gather the evidence along with the sleuths on the page but you draw closer to understanding how the mind of the writer first conceived their idea which is keeping you up late and musefully happy for the experience of reading their story.

For me, Robb not only entertained me from the stand-point of a new chapter of understanding of the Middle Ages  (as she threads the everyday politico very well into the backbone of her series foundation) but she grants you licence to step with a certain bias of interest to see Ms Clifford succeed even if her methods are not entirely on the level of what you’d expect a woman of her status to choose.

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In regards to which #SlackerRadio station I was listening to whilst reading this novel, I found myself moving into an Indie Artist sensibility. Landing on the Indie Coffee House station wherein I felt the tone and tunes felt keenly in step with my readings – even though I initially thought I’d listen to something much more classically bent! Sometimes I like reading mysteries with spoken lyrics vs orchestrations. It simply depends on my mood! Likewise, there is a secondary station I prefer under this same theme of interest: Mumford (and Sons) and Friends.

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A Special Treat | Candace Robb on ‘The Service of the Dead’ via ubookstore

Includes special choir performances | book extracts | trivia about the series!

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This blog tour is courtesy of: Historical Fiction Virtual Book Tours

Kate Clifford series blog tour via HFVBTsFun Stuff for Your Blog via

{SOURCES: Cover art of “The Service of the Dead” and “A Twisted Vengeance”, book synopsis, author biography, author photograph of Candace Robb and the tour badge were all provided by HFVBTs (Historical Fiction Virtual Book Tours) and used with permission. Quoting the first chapter ‘title’ is with permission of the publisher as we’re allowed as reviewers to use small quotations in our reviews embedded within an online publication (ie. my blog) as stated on the copyright page for ‘fair use’ guidelines. YouTube video was able to be embedded due to codes / links provided. Post dividers by Fun Stuff for Your Blog via Pure Imagination. Tweets embedded by codes provided by Twitter. Blog graphics created by Jorie via Canva: Book Review Banner using (Creative Commons Zero) Photography by Frank McKenna and the Comment Box Banner.}

Copyright © Jorie Loves A Story, 2017.

I’m a social reader | I tweet my readerly life

Reading this book contributed to these challenges:

  • 2017 Historical Fiction Reading Challenge

About jorielov

I am self-educated through local libraries and alternative education opportunities. I am a writer by trade and I cured a ten-year writer’s block by the discovery of Nanowrimo in November 2008. The event changed my life by re-establishing my muse and solidifying my path. Five years later whilst exploring the bookish blogosphere I decided to become a book blogger. I am a champion of wordsmiths who evoke a visceral experience in narrative. I write comprehensive book showcases electing to get into the heart of my reading observations. I dance through genres seeking literary enlightenment and enchantment. Starting in Autumn 2013 I became a blog book tour hostess featuring books and authors. I joined The Classics Club in January 2014 to seek out appreciators of the timeless works of literature whose breadth of scope and voice resonate with us all.

"I write my heart out and own my writing after it has spilt out of the pen." - self quote (Jorie of Jorie Loves A Story)

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Posted Thursday, 6 July, 2017 by jorielov in 14th Century, Amateur Detective, Animals in Fiction & Non-Fiction, Biographical Fiction & Non-Fiction, Blog Tour Host, Bookish Films, British Literature, Brothers and Sisters, Cosy Historical Mystery, Crime Fiction, Death of a Sibling, Death, Sorrow, and Loss, England, Excerpt of Novel Read Aloud, Historical Fiction, Historical Fiction Virtual Book Tours, Indie Author, Inspiring Video Related to Content, Lady Detective Fiction, Late Middle Ages (1300-1500), Siblings, Twin Siblings

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