Guns in the North (The Sir Robert Carey Mysteries Omnibus) by P F Chisholm

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Guns in the North (The Sir Robert Carey Mysteries Omnibus) by P F Chisholm

Category: Historical Fiction
Rating: 4.5/5
Reviewer: Ani Johnson
Reviewed by Ani Johnson
Summary: An omnibus of 16th century murder mysteries and adventure along the Scottish borders that's rich in characters, action and well-textured history.
Buy? Yes Borrow? Yes
Pages: 912 Date: July 2017
Publisher: Head of Zeus
External links: Author's website
ISBN: 978-1786694713

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1592: Sir Robert Carey flees the strictures of Elizabethan court – and his creditors – in order to become Deputy Warden of the West March in Carlisle. The Scottish/English borders and those who inhabit them are different from the world he's left behind but it will have to become his world. It's now his job to bring law to the lawless. This isn't easy when every local he comes across has an affinity and a heritage of crime to some degree. For Robert the best thing about the job is its proximity to the woman he loves but he doesn't know what he'll do about that yet either. Meanwhile he soon realises that those who are supposed to be on his side are plotting against him but they don't realise what they're up against.

P F Chisholm (Patricia Finney to her friends) has given centre stage to someone best known these days for his parentage. Yes, Robert Carey was a real person and the son of William Carey. Who? Ok, if I say that William Carey was married to Mary Boleyn sister of Anne… Yes, Robert is one of the offspring who could have come from the wrong side of Henry VIII's sheets. Historians may argue this one but Carey's manservant is in no doubt… More of him later.

In this omnibus we have the first three of the Sir Robert Carey historical murder mystery series (A Famine of Horses, A Season of Knives and A Surfeit of Guns) from his time vying with the Border Reivers and all associated dangers.

To begin with Carey has to hit the ground running when the case of a murdered local clansman uncovers all sorts of allegiances and customs that clearly mark Sir Robert as unwanted new boy. Those who have their own rules for the game of surviving life lucratively also have their own man for Sir Robert's job and so believe his days are numbered.

Each character has a rich back story that's drip fed to us, drawing out our curiosity and sense of intrigue. For instance what was Robert running from when he left London? Whatever dishonour lurks there, he's certainly being honourable in Carlisle.

He may now be living nearer Elizabeth Widdrington, the love of his life, but he's also wary of boundaries since she's also married. It's a double ouch as she's married to someone with less progressive ideas of how wives should be treated than Robert holds.

Then there's the aforementioned manservant, the delicious Dodd. This may be a bloke accustomed to serving gentility but he's got one heck of a streetwise side to him, including a penchant for the odd scam and a beer or six. He's astute enough to get Robert out of scrapes while just as likely to drop him in some too.

The list of colourful characters go on, showing the author's talent for writing strong people of all genders as well as demonstrating her love and grasp of history. (Next time you drop by YouTube, look out for Patricia's short presentations about the history behind her novels.) Indeed, on the female side, when Elizabeth and Carey's sister Philadelphia get together, a force of nature is unleashed.

Move over Poldark; this series has TV written all over it. The banter, the taste of brutal 16th century life and uncertainty, and the unpredictability of each of Carey's cases: it all adds up to Sir Robert Carey being the ideal companion for winter evenings. The best news of all is that there are more Carey omnibuses… omnibi… there are more Carey volumes to come, augmenting the still-available single novels. The second omnibus Knives in the South is due out at the end of November.

(We'd like to thank Head of Zeus for providing us with a copy for review.)

Further Reading: If you like delving into murder mysteries with a 16th century Scottish feel then we heartily recommend Shirley McKay's Hew Cullan stories. Time and Tide is a good place to jump in.

Buy Guns in the North (The Sir Robert Carey Mysteries Omnibus) by P F Chisholm at Amazon You can read more book reviews or buy Guns in the North (The Sir Robert Carey Mysteries Omnibus) by P F Chisholm at Amazon.co.uk.


Buy Guns in the North (The Sir Robert Carey Mysteries Omnibus) by P F Chisholm at Amazon You can read more book reviews or buy Guns in the North (The Sir Robert Carey Mysteries Omnibus) by P F Chisholm at Amazon.com.


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