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text 2016-01-26 16:52
Interview with B.R.A.G. Medallion Honoree Anna Castle

I’d like to welcome B.R.A.G. Medallion Honoree Anna Castle to A Bookaholic Swede to talk with me about her story, Death by Disputation. Anna Castle writes the Francis Bacon mysteries and the Lost Hat, Texas mysteries. She has earned a series of degrees -- BA in the Classics, MS in Computer Science, and a PhD in Linguistics -- and has had a corresponding series of careers -- waitressing, software engineering, grammar-writing, assistant professor, and archivist. Writing fiction combines her lifelong love of stories and learning. She physically resides in Austin, Texas and mentally counts herself a queen of infinite space.”

 

 

The rest of the interview can be read on A Bookaholic Swede

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text 2016-01-25 18:04
Murder by Misrule FREE on Amazon
Murder by Misrule: A Francis Bacon Mystery - Anna Castle

Francis Bacon is charged with investigating the murder of a fellow barrister at Gray's Inn. He recruits his unwanted protégé Thomas Clarady to do the tiresome legwork. The son of a privateer, Clarady will do anything to climb the Elizabethan social ladder. Bacon's powerful uncle Lord Burghley suspects Catholic conspirators of the crime, but other motives quickly emerge. Rival barristers contend for the murdered man's legal honors and wealthy clients. Highly-placed courtiers are implicated as the investigation reaches from Whitehall to the London streets. Bacon does the thinking; Clarady does the fencing. Everyone has something up his pinked and padded sleeve. Even the brilliant Francis Bacon is at a loss — and in danger — until he sees through the disguises of the season of Misrule.

 

AMAZON US

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review 2015-12-09 17:35
A Revealing Historical Mystery Set in 1588
The Widows Guild: A Francis Bacon Mystery (The Francis Bacon Mystery Series Book 3) - Anna Castle

The Widow's Guild is the third Francis Bacon mystery in the series and, as such, it functions as both a stand-alone read and (even better) as an expansion of the prior mystery's themes. Set in the politically stormy summer of 1588, the Spanish armada has been defeated, and Francis Bacon is involved not in a political war but in a personal battle when his assistant is accused of murder and locked in the Tower after trysting with a rich newlywed.

 

Bacon is tasked with proving his assistant's innocence, which seems a fairly predictable turn of events given his relationship with the man and political connections that turn to him to solve cases of high-profile murders. What is less predictable (and wonderfully engrossing) is the turn of events that leads Bacon to realize that the real perp has something more insidious in mind than a singular crime.

 

As the nation recovers from months of war and Bacon undertakes a more dangerous battle on the home front, it quickly becomes evident that what drives The Widows Guild is not a politically charged atmosphere nor even a killer's questionable motives: it's author Castle's attention to building historical atmosphere and intriguing twists that ply men and women against one another and expose some of the emotional perceptions of each sex.

 

Accidents that turn into strokes of luck, books with messages, and Bacon's own confrontation with his role in society and its effect upon others are steeped in the cultural and social atmosphere of its times and bring characters and events to life.

 

The result is a historical mystery that excels in depth as it presents a saga of vengeance and change, discussing character and theories of murder that takes Bacon his and readers on a whirlwind tour from dungeons to mansions in search of answers that question the very tenants guiding his life and actions.

 

Fans of historical mysteries will find this book just as captivating and well-done as the rest in a highly recommended read brimming with action and captivating scenarios.

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review 2015-09-25 15:56
An Intelligent Caper
Death by Disputation: A Francis Bacon Mystery (Francis Bacon Mystery Series) (Volume 2) - Anna Castle

This second book in the Francis Bacon mystery series is a strong as the first. At times bawdy and rowdy, at times thought-provoking, it centers around outgoing and adventurous Thomas Clarady, student and first-time spy, but the scholarly Bacon plays a key role as Tom’s spymaster. The contrast in their characters and lifestyles gives depth and texture to the story. Castle weaves religious-political intrigue, murder mystery, and Tom’s colorful friendships and love life into a tightly-paced plot. The murder mystery and the spy story mix, and though the latter often takes the upper hand, the author keeps track of all the threads. Christopher Marlowe, who is portrayed with quite a flair, plays a role in both plot lines.

 

The writing is never pedantic, yet each scene is crafted with well-chosen historical details that gives the reader a full sense of the times—the smells, the sounds, the clothes and furnishings, and the beliefs and customs of Elizabethan England. Some historical novelists feel the need to dump all of their research into a book, smothering the story. Castle knows better. She has such a grasp of the times she can use settings, props and costumes as needed, to reveal and enhance characters and events, but never clutter the story. And speaking of costumes, there is a Shakespearian feel to various layers of disguises employed by some of the characters.

 

One particular scene I found fascinating and revealing was the Rogation Day event. It illustrates the contrast between the Anglicans and the Puritans and the tensions between them. While the issue of religious fanaticism in politics is serious, and the insights Tom gains into how it feels to be a member of such a zealous community are also serious, there are comic touches such as the conflict between two young ladies of opposing views, and Tom’s delightful response to it. I’m sure my neighbors heard me laugh. The balance between comedy and food for thought is just right—and suited to a story told primarily in Tom’s point of view.

 

The final chapter, amusingly, shows Tom from Bacon’s point of view, so different from how Tom experiences himself. At first the ending seemed a bit dry as the conclusion of such a vivid and juicy book, but then it struck me a sort of “after the ecstasy, the laundry” realism, as Francis Bacon gets on with getting on in the world.

 

Note: I recommend reading the series in order, starting with Murder by Misrule.

 

Sales links to buy from all e-book retailers can be found on

http://www.annacastle.com/francis-bacon-series/death-by-disputation

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review 2015-04-14 20:52
History, Mystery, and Mastery of Both
Murder by Misrule: A Francis Bacon Mystery - Anna Castle

Elizabethan England comes to life in this colorful, tightly plotted murder mystery. It follows the classic conventions of the genre creatively. When the plot takes a surprise turn—it’s a big surprise. The characters are three-dimensional and original. The middle-class working women give depth to what could have been told as a man’s story and still worked well enough. The young lawyers-in-training are complex, lively characters, and their tutor Francis Bacon is the perfect historical personage to cast as a detective, with his knowledge of law, his scientific thinking, and his strong, somewhat quirky personality. It was fascinating to meet the great thinker at twenty-five years of age, early in his career.

 

Anna Castle did her research. Her dialog feels true to the times without being stilted or archaic. She portrays the clothing, the social customs, the law, law school and the manners of the queen’s court, as well as the details of life for the working people, without being pedantic, integrating the details into active, suspenseful scenes. I double-checked the one thing I thought might be an anachronism—a song—and found that it actually is that old. I should have trusted her. An author this good wouldn’t mess up a little thing like that. From the brightest and wittiest scenes to the darkest, every page rings true. The dances and the masque and the scenery were wonderful. The scenes in Newgate prison were grimly accurate. If you’ve ever doubted that an indie book could be as polished as a traditionally published work, give Murder by Misrule a try. I think it could change your mind.

 

This review also appears on http://everwhereindies.wordpress.com, a book blog dedicated to the work of indies who publish everywhere.

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