A #cloakanddaggerchristmas Book Spotlight | “A Murder by Any Name” (Book One: An Elizabethan Spy Mystery series) by Suzanne M. Wolfe

Posted Thursday, 27 December, 2018 by jorielov , , , 2 Comments

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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! I received a complimentary copy of “A Murder by Any Name” direct from the author Suzanne M. Wolfe in exchange for an honest review. I did not receive compensation for my opinions or thoughts shared herein.

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On finding a new publisher of Mysteries & Suspense:

Earlier in [2018] I crossed paths with Vivian Conroy on Twitter – this led me to the weekly #HistFic chat known as #HistFicChat, wherein I had the delightful joy of being able to engage in conversation with like-minded bookish spirits who loved devouring Historical stories across genres of interest whilst having the happiness of interacting with today’s writers of Historical Fiction. I attempted to join each of the convos as I could as they run on Thursdays at 3pm (EST)(NYC) – bearing weather or connectivity issues or illness, I can honestly say they became a fixture of bookish loveliness for me! I continue to look forward to each new chat as they arrive, which will be resuming on the 3rd of January, 2019!

Due to this connection, I was noting a new publisher I hadn’t come across previously or if I had, I hadn’t had the opportunity to read their titles – as I felt I had known of them (in name only) prior to conversing with Ms Conroy. This new publisher is Crooked Lane Books – if you visit their website you’ll find they have a delightful array of Mysteries, Suspense & Thrillers! So much so, I have a feeling I’ll be reading through more of their catalogue of authors throughout the coming New Year!

I have been reading Ms Conroy’s series this Christmas Week – specifically the first of her Book & Tea Mysteries and the first of her Historical Mysteries: A Merriweather and Royston Mystery. How lovely is it then, during the same week I had the chance to read a second author by this lovely publisher?

You’ll find that I have a soft spot for Mysteries – especially of the Cosier side of the ledger, as most of my #cloakanddaggerchristmas showcases are of that particular variety, however, I also love to sink my teeth into something more daring within the realms of Suspense & Thrillers, yielding to my affinity for Historical narratives within that scope as there is nothing more enjoyable than traversing through History whilst caught up in a suspenseful plot!

Thereby, I am happy to say, I think I have found a lovely new publisher and I continue to look forward to expanding my readerly life with their stories and serials! Even if some of their releases are not my cuppa tea there is such a wide variety of stories to chose from it will be a joy to figure out which authors and their stories will become my favourites as I explore the publisher’s offerings.

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A #cloakanddaggerchristmas Book Spotlight | “A Murder by Any Name” (Book One: An Elizabethan Spy Mystery series) by Suzanne M. WolfeA Murder by Any Name
Subtitle: An Elizabethan Spy Mystery
by Suzanne M. Wolfe
Source: Author via Historical Fiction Virtual Book Tours

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.

Places to find the book:

Borrow from a Public Library

Add to LibraryThing

ISBN: 9781683317142

Genres: Crime Fiction, Historical Fiction


Published by Crooked Lane Books

on 9th October, 2018

Format: Hardcover Edition

Pages: 336

Published by: Published By: Crooked Lane Books (@crookedlanebks)

Converse via: #HistoricalMystery, #HistMys #HistFic or #HistNov

Available Formats: Paperback and Ebook

About Suzanne M. Wolfe

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.

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why I am spotlighting this novel:

One of the more interesting observations I’ve made about reading about the Elizabethan Court era is how a lot of the time, the musings of the Queen and her Court were about lust, love and the entertainments of life. It did not surprise me at all that the Queen shown in Wolfe’s story is blatantly bold in her words (though cleverly altered by Wolfe) where she peers into the lives of her subordinates and tries to dig her nails into everything she can whilst reigning with a fierceness of control. Hers is not a Court of equality but rather of controlled chaos, where she entertains certain degrees of eccentricities but expects quite a bit in return from those she keeps close to her chambers.

The musings and murmurs of wonder from Cecily, one of the Queen’s younger ladies at court fills the opening bridge of the novel with her stream of conscience thoughts bubbling round the curiosity of having a suitor who was a bit elusive at the moment for he wanted to meet her in secret rather than reveal himself ahead of time. She had a hard luck kind of life if you consider what was required of her in keeping the wardrobe and wigs of the Queen clean and in proper use; she was worked to the bone and given little personal time for compensation. The Queen had an unkind attachment into her personal affairs, whilst Cecily provided a rather startling inner circle viewing of the Queen – from the whispered rumours to the truthfulness of whom the Queen was when she wasn’t dancing on circumstance or veiled from public view by her many disguises which never revealled the truthfulness of her health.

It was an interesting vein of revelation – almost as if the rattlings on of a young lady in waiting was the equivalency of a secret chamber of potential espionage as who would think twice over a young lady whose entire day revolved around her Queen? She could barely think for herself whilst she was in the throes of her duties, yet as her mind wandered, you wondered how she was able to accomplish as much as she did. Somewhere in these rattlings and musings, I had thought the pacing was a bit slow moving – almost as if you needed to be given quite a lot of information rather quickly vs having a larger scope of narrative fill in the back-stories of where we are arriving at Court. It was a different spin on how to foreshadow what was coming next and parts of it were a bit numbing as Cecily’s own mind wandered quite a bit and didn’t always reset back on task.

Wolfe doesn’t let you draw a breath of comfort before she embroils you directly into Queen Elizabeth’s mind and the tartness of her tongue. It is here where we get an overview of the Court through one of her ladies in waiting – a young girl of sixteen years who is growing up fast in the shadows of her Queen due to the particularities of life at Court. A lot of what is being highlighted are the parts of the Court which you never would have realised were the realities of life there – how much goes on between royal meetings and public forums. The whole of Court is like its own interconnected network of spies – everyone has an angle, and for each new angle there is another buyer of truths which could be put to use against someone else. I wouldn’t imagine there would be a lot of trust at Court, as you would never know when you were in company who could keep your interests safe or who would turn on you if a moment arose where your information could be used against you.

Despite hoping this would even out eventually to a pace and delivery I could attach myself into feeling invested in the details, I found myself wandering outside the narrative. For starters, there is a lot of time spent on developing the role Cecily plays at Court but then, we’re given a bit of a twist of surprise by what becomes of Cecily’s fate – it felt unkind to her in many ways, as I wasn’t as sure about why we spent such an arduous time building her character if she was not meant to be a mainstay throughout the novel.

Mostly though – it is the tone of the novel which started to irk me, as somehow everything felt limited to only the gutter interests of men. Meaning, if it was about lustful pursuits or insidious rendezvous or rumours to ignite motivations of action – this story kept shifting where it wanted to lead you. It turnt dark rather quickly and by the time I arrived at the scene of the crime to captialise on the Mystery elements of the novel, I realised I hadn’t felt emotionally motivated to continue the story. There just wasn’t enough to anchour me into the story – as each time I felt I was making headway with the plot, I felt there was a diversion or the focus was on something that didn’t interest me to read.

Previously I have read C.W. Gortner’s Elizabethan era series by way of The Tudor Vendetta which was a better fit for me personally. This series would be perfect for readers who like the darker shades of sociological insight into what motivates people to live against their morals and ethics, as I think it does well to underscore those kinds of characters who live in the darker alleys of Elizabethan life.

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This blog tour is courtesy of:

Historical Fiction Virtual Book Tours - HFVBTFollow the Virtual Road Map

as you visit others participating:

As this particular one has a bookaway along the route:

A Murder by Any Name blog tour via HFVBTs
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 I look forward to reading your thoughts & commentary!
Who are your favourite Historical Mystery & Suspense authors? Which series do you enjoy reading within this niche of literature? And, what was your favourite #mustread of late? I love seeking out new authors & serials – I have a penchant for Historical Cosies, Suspense & Thrillers – keen to know what draws your eye & to see if I can find someone new to read!

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#CloakAndDaggerChristmas badge created by Jorie in Canva

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{SOURCES: Book cover for “A Murder by Any Name”, book synopsis, author biography, author photograph of Suzanne M. Wolfe, the tour host badge and HFVBTs badge were all provided by Historical Fiction Virtual Book Tours and used with permission. Post dividers badge by Fun Stuff for Your Blog via Pure Imagination. Tweets were embedded due to codes provided by Twitter. Blog graphics created by Jorie via Canva: Book Spotlight banner, #cloakanddaggerchristmas banner, Historical Fiction Reading Challenge banner and the Comment Box Banner.}

Copyright © Jorie Loves A Story, 2018.

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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)

read more >> | Visit my Story Vault of Book Reviews | Policies & Review Requests | Contact Jorie

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Posted Thursday, 27 December, 2018 by jorielov in 15th Century, Bits & Bobbles of Jorie, Blog Tour Host & Reviewer, Book Spotlight & Announcement, Crime Fiction, Elizabeth I, Elizabethan Era, Historical Fiction, Historical Fiction Virtual Book Tours, Historical Mystery, Indie Author, Queen Elizabeth I




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2 responses to “A #cloakanddaggerchristmas Book Spotlight | “A Murder by Any Name” (Book One: An Elizabethan Spy Mystery series) by Suzanne M. Wolfe

    • (facepalm) I know, the cover art is beautiful up close and personal!!

      I was really expecting this one to go a different way – I just couldn’t get invested into it and it was really brutally graphic round the edges when it wasn’t feeling overtly darker in tone and execution. I think my expectations were going one way and the delivery took another route to where it just wasn’t a good match-up for me. Gosh, if I had the postage I’d mail you my copy! Just to know it would be in someone’s hands who’d enjoy it more than I could would be lovely.

      I have!! I have more to share for #cloakanddaggerchristmas – so stay tuned!

      I can’t wait for next December as *knock on wood* – no Winter illnesses for me!! Ha!!!

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