All that Glitters (Australian Historical Saga #4), by David Field

Eight stars

David Field concludes this impactful tetralogy by expanding the focus on colonial Australia, while keeping the Bradbury family front and centre throughout the narrative. Jack Bradbury has continued to make a name for himself in the legal world, such that he is called down to Melbourne, as gold is discovered in the region. This begins a series of events that include a push for more democratisation and a free press. As the Bradbury family ages and tackles new challenges, Australia leaves infancy and wanders toward an awkward adolescence. Field is brilliant as ever, with this novel and the series as a whole.

Jack Bradbury has discovered his passion in the law, choosing to use it to balance the scales of justice. With the discovery of gold in the south, prospectors and workers flood the area, which is sure to cause the odd skirmish or two. Jack makes his way there to defend a man accused of attacking a police officer, who was himself assaulting a hapless immigrant worker. It is then that Jack gets a taste of the new Australia, where rules are not simply accepted by the masses, many of whom demand representation in order to have their voices heard. In the same vein, a free and published press begins voicing ideas, not altogether supportive of Jack and his legal maneuvers.

After settling his family around Melbourne, Jack watches his daughter, Emily, grow up and find a passion for education. First, in a small school house, where she cannot get enough of learning, and later as a teacher herself. The story moves to explore Emily’s maturity and how she handles being a woman in Australia, with suitors trying to force her to settle down and direct her. Emily pushes back, wanting to carve out her own niche, without compromising the Bradbury name.

As the years pass, both Jack and Emily forge onwards in their separate professions, all while Australia inches towards an awkward adolescence, still under the thumb of the mighty British Empire. Change is ever-present and the people of this colony watch to see what awaits them, with independence on the horizon and the 20th century set to bestow forced maturity. David Field has done much to keep the reader enlightened in this series and this culmination is a classic end to what has been a stellar presentation.

David Field exudes passion in his writing and desire to include the reader on a formidable journey. Field provides a strong narrative and plausible dialogue, leaving the reader feeling in the middle of the action. Each novel is vastly different from the others, with this being perhaps the most impactful from a character and plot development angle. Field has done much in a short period to offer up needed themes that put Australia the country, the colony, and the collection of people into context, educating the reader while keeping things somewhat light.

Jack Bradbury resumes the role as central protagonist in the early portion of the novel, but bows out to allow his daughter, Emily, to take over. Emily is growing up in a still as yet confused Australia, where British rule is strong, but new ideas and freedoms are on the horizon. Emily is independent, while still drawing on the life lessons her Bradbury family instilled in her, allowing the reader to see wonderful connections and new explorations. Liberation, democracy, and equality resonate from characters throughout the story, keeping the reader on their toes as things progress.

David Field has shown time and again that he is a master at whatever he presents in his books. This collection of four novels about the early Australian colony not only opened my eyes to the goings-on, but also including a well-balanced piece of fiction. A keen narrative depicts the struggles that many faced as British tried to keep its far off colony in line, counterbalanced with the need for democracy. Key characters make their presence known at various points, allowing the reader to connect with many of them. The plot, which offers historical events and fictitious happenings, proves to be perfect for the length of novel Field presents. While it is impossible to pull everything into a short tetralogy, David Field has done so well and I am pleased I took a few days to read these four books. I hope others will do the same, when time permits.

Kudos, Mr. Field, for such a a great series. You really do have elements of some other authors who have masted multi-generational series about colonial lands, but you stand alone in your delivery as well.

A Colony Divided (Australian Historical Saga #3), by David Field

Eight stars

David Field is one writer I’ll not tire of reading, hands down. He’s shown me, through his writing, that there is truly something for everyone amongst his array of novels. Field’s latest tetralogy explores the development of Australia, from penal colony to a settled country struggling to define itself. In this third novel, the focus is on Jack Bradbury, second generation Australian, and his attempts to define himself against the still unable nationhood of his homeland. Interesting enough, it parallels some of the struggles his own father, Matthew, had in the second novel, to step out from under the shadow of his own father. Jack is not interested in the family business, but has a passion for the law, wanting to bring justice to all, particularly the indigenous community. While working under a well-established Sydney lawyer, Jack learns the ins and outs of the trade, only to discover that those indigenous who are left as slaves and to live in small communes are disparaged when it comes to the law and accused of crimes before the evidence can be synthesised. Jack’s eyes are opened on numerous occasions, as well as his heart, in this telling story. Field does a masterful job and portraying the struggle in this, the most engaging novel of the series to date.

Jack Bradbury has grown up in his father’s shadow and expected to take over the family hardware business. However, Jack’s passions lie in law and justice, something he espouses regularly when speaking of the poor treatment of the indigenous community around Sydney. When given the chance to be tutored by one of the city’s esteemed criminal lawyers, Jack takes the chance and learns a great deal. He’s also caught the eye of Gwendoline Hannigan, his tutor’s daughter. She decides at her birthday celebration that they are to be engaged, leaving Jack shocked and betrothed when he cannot dispute it.

While working the case of a falsely accused indigenous man, Jack connects with a friend from his past, a young woman who grew up in the care of the Church when her mother died during childbirth. Lowanna is mixed-race, but also the first girl Jack ever loved, feelings that he cannot entirely hide, even after it has been years since they last saw one another.

When Gwendoline discovers Lowanna is back and appears to be with child, the aristocratic woman young assumes the worst and calls off the engagement, leaving Jack speechless and soon without a job. Forced to reinvent himself, Jack does just that and continues to work helping the indigenous as best he can. During a trip to the courthouse, he finds himself inadvertently chosen to defend Gwendoline’s new beau for conspiracy, something he struggles to do, but knows that justice is blind and he must put on the best case possible.

As he works through the case, something significant occurs and Jack is forced into hiding. It is only worth the help of Lowanna, who owes her people’s legal freedom to Jack’s dedication, that they are able to help the young lawyer return to society. A changed man who sees the error of his ways, Jack knows there is only one thing that he has yet to do to tip the scales of justice and societal correctness in his favour, but will he be able to convince others in the Bradbury clan? David Field does a sensational job in his novel that explores the legal and societal strains under which an awkward Australia must come to terms.

David Field shows a passion for writing on a vast array of subjects, as is demonstrated by his numerous short series. Field entertains readers with his flowing narrative and apt dialogue, while exemplifying a great deal of research on the subject matter. This novel was yet again a contrast to the other two in the series, offering up more social commentary at a time when Australia is trying to define itself, yet still yoked with many of the colonial ways of thinking. Field explores all of this, as well as a young man’s emotional well-being through a story that captivates and engages with each turn of the page. I have come to expect nothing less of David Field!

Jack Bradbury is the central protagonist in this piece, though one cannot discount Lowanna and her presence. While Jack explores the legal and judicial aspects of the country, Lowanna offers a refreshing look at how poorly the indigenous population is treated and how blame is shoved towards them without a second thought. There is a great deal of development for both of these characters, peppered with some backstory to offer context and strengthen their connection towards the latter stages of the book. Field has does a masterful job at portraying the struggles both face, without candy coating any of it. The attentive reader will likely need a moment, as I did, to reflect on what transpires and reflect on the current situation in some parts of the world.

David Field presents ideas in an easy to digest fashion, while adding impactful themes throughout. The narrative flows with ease, using varied characters and sentiments that entertain and engage on every page. Shorter chapters help construct the needed momentum and support numerous plot twists. As with the other novels in the series, there is a strong balance of fictional storytelling alongside historical happenings, which provides needed context at every turn. Field never disappoints and he has done so well with this piece. He continues to impress me and I can see glimpses of two other authors who have mastered the art of colonial exploration through multi-generational series. I am eager to see how he ends things in the final novel.

Kudos, Mr. Field, for such a well-paced series. I have been devouring these books and cannot wait to see how it all comes together in the end!

Eye for an Eye (Australian Historical Saga #2), by David Field

Eight stars

Since discovering his writing, I have been a fan of David Field and told anyone who would listen. Having penned a variety of series on numerous topics, Field truly has something for everyone. Field’s latest tetralogy centres around the development of Australia, going from penal colony to settled country with its own struggles. In this second novel, the focus is on Matthew Bradbury, first generation Australian, and his attempts to define himself. Matthew pursues his dreams and becomes a police constable, protecting the region to which he is assigned. When he takes on the case of a missing child, Matthew and the woman who seeks his help become embroiled in more than hunting down a kidnapper. It will surely have a long lasting impact, no matter which way things turn out. Field does it again, pulling the reader in which this short novel that educates and entertains in equal measure.

Matthew Bradbury has grown up in his father’s shadow for long enough. He wishes to definite himself by his own dreams and aspirations, but the elder, Daniel Bradbury, is having none of it. Having left the family home, Matthew takes up as a volunteer constable, in hopes of showing his determination. It’s only when his sister, Rebecca, pleads with him to come home, even for a brief time, that Matthew must face his family and decide what he wants to do.

Chosen to take over a constabulary near Sydney, Matthew agrees to take on the role, partially to fulfil his goals, but also to show his family that he is worth his mettle. When Matthew begins looking into some ghostly events around the community, he discovers Hannah Newcombe, long thought dead. She tells a heart wrenching story about how her husband was murdered by a gang of outlaws and her baby kidnapped. While Hannah has taken justice into her own hands, there is one member of the group left to kill, Phoebe Jackson. With a fire in her belly and Matthew willing to assist, they work to locate Phoebe and the baby.

Juggling his daily role and this special assignment, Matthew Bradbury finds himself connecting with Hannah in ways other than as a worried mother. Leery to share too much, Hannah remains guarded, but cannot deny the connection as well. When Phoebe crosses their path, it is a battle to the end, all in hopes of bringing some justice to a situation that has been filled with blood.

If that were not enough, Matthew must also contend with the rising sentiment of animosity by townsfolk towards the indigenous population. Unwilling to simply drum the original inhabitants of the land out to the bush, Matthew must walk a precarious line and keep order, or risk complete disarray. He hopes only to keep the peace and show his superiors that he has what it takes to maintain order for the time being. Field does a wonderful job at keeping the reader hooked and eager to learn with every page turn.

David Field is an author whose passion is evident in his writing. Having done a great deal of research to present topics so succinctly, Field entertains with his witty narrative and wonderful dialogue, leaving the reader feeling as though they are in the middle of the action.This second novel was vastly different from the series debut, but did much to show me how major issues are beginning to take shape in the new colony, with real struggles and worrisome social division. Exploring the second generation, one can only surmise that Field will use subsequent offspring to expound on evolving issues, as some epic authors have done before him in their own epic series about newly colonised territories. Field holds his own and I would say he stands among those authors of note.

Matthew Bradbury surely takes up the central protagonist role in this piece, though, like the debut, there is a strong female who also has a significant place and cannot be discounted. The character development and backstory of Matthew Bradbury and Hannah Newcombe is revealed throughout, as Field peppers the narrative with both. Their connection is undeniable, though it sees a little more strained than that of Matthew’s parents in the previous novel. Both Matthew and Hannah come into their own and complement one another well, leaving the reader to bask in the greatness of this budding relationship, even if both are hesitant to admit it from the outset.

David Field knows his stuff and presents it in a compact and easy to digest fashion. The narrative flows wonderfully, with varied characters that entertain on every page. Shorter chapters help with the momentum and complement the plot twists, which weave fiction with fact to create an entertaining mix. I have never been disappointed with Field or his writing and this series is shaping up to be something great. Bring on the next book, as I am eager to see where we are headed.

Kudos, Mr. Field, for such a good series to date. Australia has always been of interest to me and I feel right there (though I am scrambling to slip under a tree, with my freckled skin!).

A Far Distant Land (Australian Historical Saga #1), by David Field

Eight stars

**

A great fan of David Field and his writing, I was eager to hear that he had started a new project, this time focussing on the historical beginnings of British presence in Australia. While I have read a little on the subject (a favourite author of mine penned a major trilogy), I was interested to see what Field had to say on the matter, looking to this, the first in the tetralogy. When Second Lieutenant Daniel Bradbury arrives in New South Wales, he is unsure what to expect. With a boatload of convicts, he can only hope that setting up a community will run smoothly. After numerous encounters with one of the female convicts, Martha Mallett, they fall in love and begin setting up roots. As the years pass, the colony grows, as do the responsibilities of Lieutenant Bradbury. What follows is the start of the saga that will include many others, as Australia begins to grow as a British colony. Field does it again with his writing, keeping me hooked until the final page.

Second Lieutenant Daniel Bradbury has high hopes as he sets sail with a boatload of convicts, on their way to the penal colony on the other side of the world. With plans to set up camp in New South Wales, Bradbury prepares for what would surely be a rough few years, but could not have predicted that he would cross paths with the feisty Martha Mallett. A female convict and fabulous actress, Mallett finds a way into Bradbury’s thoughts, which eventually leads to a spot in his heart and bed. As scandalous as it might have been, both knew that they were destined to be together.

In the years that follow, both Bradbury and Mallett make their mark on the colony and those around them. Bradbury finds himself able to connect well with the indigenous community, forging a loose form of communication to ensure peace. Mallett, while not yet free of the convict moniker, has been able to earn a special respect of the other soldiers and members of the British delegation. Still, she hopes for more, considering herself a petty criminal, only guilty of trying to stay alive.

With time, Martha is removed from her role as criminal and granted a place with Bradbury in the upper crust of colonial society. Bearing a few children for her husband, Martha is able to make an impact, but wants more. As Lieutenant Bradbury rises through the ranks and the years pass, he becomes a prominent member of the colonial hierarchy and has hopes that his family will continue to influence the settlements that expand across the still barren land. However, much has yet to be decided and the Bradbury name is being bandied about for higher causes. David Field impacts the reader effectively and keeps the reader wondering what is to come.

I have always found David Field is one author whose interest in a topic resonates from every word he puts to paper. Not only that, but his varied interests have proven effective in a number of well-developed series, quick reads all of them. This series debut is stunning in its depiction of the era, the late eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries, and how the British sought to make their mark on a territory so far away. The characters are highly intriguing and will surely continue to flavour the narrative, as the series moves forward with three other books to come.

While there are many who mark their mark within this short novel, Daniel Bradbury and Martha Mallett are key protagonists throughout. Their backstories are developed briefly, but it would appear Field is more interested in laying the groundwork for character development and future roots that will impact the series as a whole. From vastly different ranks, Bradbury and Mallett find ways to connect, while also influencing the lives of those around them. I am eager to see how they, and their family, will make a difference as the series moves forward.

Since discovering the work of David Field, I have always had an affinity for his writing. Be it Victorian crime novels, Tudor scandals, or even an Australian epic saga, he never fails to deliver. While much more compact in his writing, Field reminds me of one of my favourite authors who (as I mentioned above) also penned a multi-volume series about the settlement of Australia. High compliments for that, as the narrative flows just as well, with wonderful characters to keep the reader entertained. Short chapters help push the story along and forces the reader to feel a part of the action. Interesting plot twists, both woven into the actual history of events and fictional occurrences, make the reader’s journey all the more delightful. I am eager to get my hands on the second novel in the series to see if it packs as much punch.

Kudos, Mr. Field, for another winner. I cannot say enough about this debut or all of your writing. I hope your fan base grows as people discover what a delight reading those books can be!

Confronting the Invisible (West and Carlyle Victorian Mysteries #3), by David Field

Eight stars

It is always a pleasure to take some time when David Field releases a new novel. His latest series, set on the streets of Victorian London, never fails to stir up some thought-provoking moments, with a stellar mystery woven into the narrative. In this novel, a group of children go missing, with ties to Matthew West’s children’s Bible Group. Could he hold the key to their disappearance, or the fact that they are beginning to appear as ghosts?

It all started with the circus coming to town. Matthew West accompanies his fiancée, Adelaide Carlyle, and her father, Dr. James Carlyle, to the event. West was sure that this night out with Adelaide and her father would calm his nerves ahead of the upcoming wedding. However, during one of the trapeze acts, something goes horribly wrong and Dr. Carlyle can determine that there was some foul play.

The authorities want to hear nothing about it and permit the circus to leave town, which baffles both Carlyle and West to no end. However, life must go on. West is working as a local priest and has organised a Bible Group for some of the parish children. Adelaide comes along one week to show off her nursing skills, which includes a chance to check and treat the numerous cases of head lice. The children love it, particularly when they can show off their iodine-coloured scalps to handfuls of worried parents.

Amidst preparing for and getting married, Matthew and Adelaide discover something troubling has taken place. A number of the parish children have gone missing, most from the Bible group. What’s worse, parents are not only fraught with worry over that, but that some have been seen outside their homes, almost floating at the window. Might there be something sinister taking place in the form of a demonic possession? Matthew West is not about to wait for the authorities to connect the dots.

While West and Adelaide begin poking around, they come across the body of one missing child, her legs badly broken. Dr. Carlyle deduces that it was from a long fall, perhaps the height of a rooftop. This gets the wheels turning and West seeks to explore a little more. What he discovers not only shocks him, but sends him into a panic. Turning to the only people he can trust, Matthew West and his new wife will have to uncover who has taken the children and left them in such squalor, without alerting anyone except a handful of the authorities.

When it comes to David Field, mysteries set in Victorian England come to life. I have read a number of his series, all of which are full of historical goings-on, as well as some wonderful storytelling. This series is no exception, as each page is full of something for the reader to enjoy, while seeking to solve a well-paced mystery.

Matthew and Adelaide West appear to take centre stage in this piece, which boasts some great character development for them both. Their courtship comes to an end as they are able to finally tie the knot, though this does not dilute their passion to discover the truth of what has been going on around them. The reader will see that West is still trying to get his legs under him as a parish priest and Adelaide seeks to make her mark as a nurse, following her father in the medical profession. While their lives advance independently, they surely need each other to make a significant difference. Personal growth can be found throughout this piece, as well as some needed joint advancements that help round out the story by the end.

Field uses a handful of strong characters to support the two protagonists. The story lends itself to a great cross-section of individuals, all of whom work well together. From the stiff investigator who does not want wool pulled over his eyes, to the young children whose curiosity is second to none, Field provides the reader with education and entertainment at every turn. The Wests are surely supported well with these supporting characters and the story flows even better with their subtle steering of the narrative. Field is able to use one-off characters effectively, while also providing a handful of recurring folks that creates a connection between the novels.

Overall, the story worked really well, shining light not only on the life of the traveling circus, but the lack of structure the left many families hopeless. Young children roamed the streets and it would not be uncommon for many of them the disappear without notice. Sickness was also quite prevalent, as Field explores in the middle and latter portions of the book, sending large portions of the population into an abyss that may lead to horrible death.

With a strong narrative to keep the story moving, David Field offers readers something both entertaining and educational in equal measure. Life in Victorian England surely contrasts greatly with things today, but Field can breathe some life into it with his well-formed Cockney slang and plot lines that provide some needed context into how things were done at the time. Readers will enjoy the longer chapters, which are used to fully explore the issues of the day, though the writing is never burdensome, allowing for a quick read over a day or two. I cannot wait to see what else David Field has in store for his fans, new and established alike.

Kudos, Mr. Field, for another winner. I know I am in for a treat when I choose one of your books and you have not let me down yet.

A Book for All Seasons, a different sort of Book Challenge: https://www.goodreads.com/group/show/248185-a-book-for-all-seasons

Death Comes But Twice (Carlyle and West Victorian Mysteries #2), by David Field

Eight stars

First and foremost, a large thank you to David Field and Sapere Publishing for providing me with a copy of this publication, which allows me to provide you with an unbiased review.

When I was given the chance to read an early copy of David Field’s newest novel, I knew it was not something I wanted to ignore. This second book in his new Victorian crime series is packed with action and a great deal of information from the time period. Field keeps the reader’s attention while spinning an duplicitous tale at a time when forensic advancements were afoot in the field of police work. When Dr. James Carlyle, a surgeon at the local London Hospital, receives a new body for autopsy, something familiar has him second guessing himself. The man before him is already dead, or was before his poisoning with digitalis. Carlyle reaches out to his sometimes colleague, Matthew West, who is a local Wesleyan street preacher. West’s interest is piqued, as he witnessed the man’s execution not long ago. Wondering if the hanging was a ruse, West returns to investigate a little more. While this is taking place, Dr. Carlyle’s daughter, Adelaide, is mounting her campaign to run for the London County Council, the first female candidate ever to do so. Without universal suffrage, she will have to appeal to the men of the district, many of whom do not take her seriously. With West agreeing to nominate her, Adelaide has high hopes of making a difference and cleaning up London as best she can. When news emerges that a second person with ties to the hanging turns up dead, Carlyle and West begin to wonder if a cover-up is taking place, though they cannot be sure who might be orchestrating it. West receives an interesting proposition by a wealthy London businesswoman, one Mary Miller, who wishes him to work with her to abolish capital punishment. While he is intrigued, there is something not entirely right about her. As West and Carlyle dig a little deeper, they discover that Mary Miller has quite the past, including an indirect tie to West himself. When more men turn up dead, the rush is on to discover who is killing them and what faking an execution might have done to advance someone’s cause. Miller seems innocent, but there is too much in her past to simply dismiss her as a suspect With all this going on, West is also trying to secure himself permanent employment and something even more important. There is little time to wait and much to do before a killer slips away, with additional targets sure to follow. A stunning addition to this new series, Field exemplifies that he is not an author to be taken lightly. Recommended to those who love a quick-paced mystery, as well as the reader who loves Victorian crime thrillers.

Having first come to know about David Field when I read some of his earlier Victorian novels in another series, I was pleasantly surprised at how entertaining and educational his pieces can be. I was pleased to see Field return with a new series set in this same era, permitting him to expand on the mysteries of the time, but from a unique perspective. Field uses two strong protagonists, with hints that a third might be in the making. Matthew West continues to grow as a preacher to the poor and out of luck, though he seeks more. His amateur sleuthing ways work well for him as he tries to get to the bottom of the case at hand, though the pressure to find something permanent serves as an underlying bit of character development as the move gains momentum. West has some ideas, but is still too timid to take life by the horns and steer it in the direction he wants most. Dr. James Carlyle is both his colleague and polar opposite, with medical knowledge and life experience that makes him the more grounded of the two. Carlyle educates West (and the reader) to some of the new forensics being used, something called ‘fingerprints’, as well as the details of pharmaceutical poisonings. Carlyle reveals some interesting facts about the case, where possible, while also trying to parent Adelaide, who continues to stir up the pot with her women’s rights movement and attempts to win a seat on the London County Council. Adelaide becomes a third protagonist throughout this piece, pushing her ideas and keeping a constant eye on Matthew West, as their romantic chemistry seems to be building, though neither is ready to admit it to the other. Field uses other characters to enrich the reading experience, offering a great deal of flavouring to an exciting story. With an interesting premise, Field pulls on some of the sentiments surrounding capital punishment, women’s rights, and the dawn of forensic advancements to create this story that is as easy to read as it is captivating. With a mixture of chapter lengths, Field keeps the reader guessing what is to come with each plot reveal. The narrative flows really well and is peppered with great cockney slang to add a layer of realism to the banter between characters. I am eager to see what else the West-Carlyle duo (trio) undertake in upcoming pieces, especially with some of the revelations in the final chapter of this novel.

Kudos, Mr. Field, for keeping me entertained from cover to cover. I just saw the announcement of the series’ third novel and cannot wait to get my hands on it soon!

A Book for All Seasons, a different sort of Book Challenge: https://www.goodreads.com/group/show/248185-a-book-for-all-seasons

Interviewing the Dead (Carlyle and West #1), by David Field

Eight stars

First and foremost, a large thank you to David Field and Sapere Publishing for providing me with a copy of this publication, which allows me to provide you with an unbiased review.

Never one to pass up the opportunity to read anything by David Field, I rushed to get hold of the debut novel in this new Victorian crime series. With a wonderful premise and keen attention to detail, Field keeps the reader’s attention throughout this fast-paced novel. It’s the late Victorian Era and Jack the Ripper is simply a passing memory for the people of London’s East Side. However, after some bones are unearthed during the construction of an underground station, problems arise. A woman arrives on a country-wide junket to tell fortunes and send messages from the dead to the local population, including that two centuries before this very ground was the dumpling place during a plague outbreak, including those that were unearthed. This means that there are many unsettled souls angered at being disturbed and they have turned their ire on the locals. Soon thereafter, people begin to die unexpectedly and some are seen to act in very suspicious ways,. The people turn to their local Wesleyan street preacher, Matthew West, but he has no idea what’s going on. He, in turn, seeks the medical advice of Dr. James Carlyle, a surgeon at the local London Hospital. While both men come from completely different perspectives on the subject of spirits, they are united in wanting to find out what’s causing all these deaths. Investigating as best they can, West and Carlyle must seek the assistance of a detective, who serves to fill in some of the gaps. When West finds himself on the wrong side of a murder charge after being attacked outside, Carlyle makes a discovery that could help to explain what’s going on. Someone’s been spiking the beer with a potent drug, one not usually found in the region. It’s up to West and Carlyle to find out who and why before the death toll mounts and talk of the dead haunting the streets of London gets any more out of hand. Well-paced and the perfect book to pull the reader in for a day of reading, David Field shows that he is not one to run out of ideas. Recommended for those who love a good Victorian mystery, as well as the reader who has come to enjoy the work of David Field.

Having cut my teeth on Field’s first Victorian mystery series, I was pleased to see him come back to this era, which gives him the chance to delve deeper into the history, medical advancements, and sociology-economic situation of the time. He paves the way for what is sure to be an exciting series with two strong protagonists. Matthew West is a young man who serves no specific flock as he counsels the homeless and those he encounters on his walks through London’s East Side. Still new to the profession, the reader can see the cracks in his character as he tries to be upstanding without yet being able to ignore some of the baser urges that are tossed before him. He seeks to help, but is still largely naive when it comes to matters of deeper thinking. This contrasts nicely with Dr. James Carlyle, whose medical knowledge and life experience make him the more grounded of the two. Carlyle educates West (and the reader) to some of the medical and psychological know-how as it relates to neuroses and poisoning. He reveals some interesting facts about the case, while also trying to parent his daughter, who seeks to stir up the pot with her women’s rights movement, a great sub-plot. Other characters work well within the confines of the piece, offering a great deal of flavouring to an exciting story. Built on a wonderful premise, Field pulls on some of the sentiments around spirits from the day, as well as the rise in mediums who seek to communicate between the two worlds. With a mixture of chapter lengths, Field pulls the reader in before offering them longer explanations to give the book some depth. The narrative flows really well and is peppered with great cockney slang to add a layer of realism to the banter between characters. I cannot wait to see what else the West-Carlyle duo undertake in upcoming pieces, hoping that Field has many ideas to share with his fan base.

Kudos, Mr. Field, for another winner. I am pleased to see us back in Victorian times, where my appreciation for your writing began. Perhaps the attentive reader may see some crossover mentions from the other series?

A Book for All Seasons, a different sort of Book Challenge: https://www.goodreads.com/group/show/248185-a-book-for-all-seasons

A Plague on Both Your Houses (Oliver Wade #3), by David Field

Eight stars

Reaching for the latest piece by David Field, I was taken back to post-Elizabethan England, where Oliver Wade finds himself in yet another adventure. James I is the new King of England, seeking to rid the country of any Catholic remnants. While many embrace this, there is a core who remain put out by those who would seek to dilute the ‘true faith’. As whispers grow, Oliver Wade is asked by Robert Cecil, the king’s Head of Government, to uncover any plots and report back. Under the guise of a travelling dramatic troupe, Wade and his group discover that a terror plot exists, whereby the House of Lords will be blown up during the State Opening of Parliament, when James I is to be in attendance. With Guido ‘Guy’ Fawkes in charge of the explosives, Wade learns the intricacies of the plot, which includes a major act that is sure to kill all those close to the act of terror. Armed with news that could save the king and keep a Catholic monarchs from ascending to the throne, Wade must decide if it is worth his interference, as he is happy remaining out of the limelight. England could forever change as both religious groups vie for power. A wonderful piece of historical fiction that is sure to entertain. Recommended for those who love pieces from times long past, as well as the reader who is familiar and enjoys the work of David Field.

I have always found something interesting in the work of David Field, as he entertains and educates in equal measure. This story, purported to be the final the Oliver Wade series, offers the reader some of the most exciting plots yet. Filled with history and an England on the brink of change, the reader can see how the country remained shaky in this post-Tudor era. Oliver Wade remains an interesting, if quiet, protagonist. Enjoying his life writing plays and entertaining an audience, he seems always to be pulled into the middle of something special. His unassuming character sees him be the confidant of many, which makes his spy work all the more effective. Others find their place in this story and keep the plot on point, as the action heats up. England is on the brink of major upheaval and both sides are ready to claim victory. The story that Field shares is both historically on point and full of wonderful fictional shades, which keeps the reader enthralled as they make their way through this short piece. One can only hope that Field will have more to write about years past, filled with aspects of fact and a peppering of fiction.

Kudos, Mr. Field, for another winner. I can only hope others find these stories as interesting while learning about important times in English history.

A Book for All Seasons, a different sort of Book Challenge: https://www.goodreads.com/group/show/248185-a-book-for-all-seasons

The Heart of a King: The Infamous Reign of Elizabeth I (Tudor Saga #6), by David Field

Eight stars

David Field is back with the final instalment of his Tudor series, which has included many interesting tales about this most influential English monarchical family. After many years of waiting in the shadows, Elizabeth ascends to the throne at a time when England is in disarray. Queen Mary pushed a strong Catholic sentiment across the country, forcing Elizabeth to turn back to what she feels will be a calmer Protestant way of life, accepting private worship of whatever the individual chooses. At greatest issue is a strong alliance for the country, surrounded by powerhouses Spain and France. The easiest way to do this is through a marriage, though Elizabeth is less than eager to give her hand to a man she cannot love. There is one man whose life she is happy to share, but she cannot have Robert Dudley, who is married to another. Elizabeth realises that she cannot keep England isolated and seeks to find a solution that will be effective for all parties. Scotland to the north remains under French rule and there are powerful forces coming from Paris that could cause her many issues. Elizabeth is ruthless in her attempts to protect England, refusing to let the men around her dictate how she will rule. Equally noticeable is Elizabeth’s passion to flex her muscle, keeping her Court in line and not permitting anyone to cross her. With no heir and the years passing, the Tudor era is set to come to an end, something that Elizabeth cannot simply ignored. Looking back on her life and that of her family, Elizabeth must choose who will sit on England’s throne and lead her into a new era, or face obliteration under the boot of a foreign ruler. A wonderful end to a jam-packed series, in which Field takes the reader on an adventure like no other. Recommended to Tudor fans who enjoy a mix of history and fiction, as well as the reader who needs a short piece to tide them over.

I have enjoyed the work of David Field, reading many of his novels when I can find them. His work with the Tudors is of great interest to me, as I thoroughly enjoy this time period in English history. The story seeks to tell of the final Tudor monarch, whose time on the throne was full of controversies as she refused to allow others to dictate her reign or how she ought to act. While England was keen to find new and lasting alliances, Elizabeth refused to sell herself out, thereby leaving the country vulnerable. Field depicts Elizabeth as both a compassionate woman but ruthless when she feels the need to exert control. There are numerous hints at the Elizabeth-Dudley connection, though nothing untoward comes of it. With powerful forces in Europe at the time, Field shows the volatility of England, which comes into play the longer Elizabeth goes without an heir. The story remains strong throughout and the narrative gains momentum as things progress in this important time. Choices made at this time impact much of what is to come in the decades that following, pushing England in directions Field only hints at throughout the narrative. Those who have followed the series will likely enjoy this finale, though I am sure Field has more to come, even if it means a new era and set of strong characters. A mix of chapter lengths and well-presented narratives keep the story from losing momentum and places the reader in the middle of the action. Some will speak of the brevity of these books, but I find them all refreshing, as I can learn a great deal in a single sitting. I am eager to see what is to come and how Field will impress fans yet again.

Kudos, Mr. Field, for a strong series that never lets up. The Tudors live strong in these books and I am pleased to see your dedication as you educate your fans.

A Book for All Seasons, a different sort of Book Challenge: https://www.goodreads.com/group/show/248185-a-book-for-all-seasons

The Queen in Waiting: Mary Tudor Takes the Throne (Tudor Series #5), by David Field

Eight stars

David Field is back with another instalment of his Tudor series, educating readers about this history of this most entertaining of monarchical dynasties. Those who have followed the series to date will know that Henry VIII is gone, forcing the offspring to assume their time on the throne. Edward has served and died young, followed by the controversial Jane Grey. Now, it is time for Mary to ascend, though things are far from smooth for her. As she seeks to return England to its Catholic roots, Mary will have to remove all the Protestant hierarchy and reestablish a connection with Rome. While these may seem pressing, she also has the concern of offspring, having no one to whom she is betrothed. While Parliament seeks a fine Englishman for her, Mary has her eyes set on international connections, seeing an option in Philip of Spain, a country still a sworn enemy to England. Mary is adamant that she knows best, forging ahead with an alliance in memory of her mother. In the shadows is the young Elizabeth, who is happy to honour her sister, but far from a sycophant. Elizabeth has her own life to live, which seems to ruffle Mary’s feathers and she is called before the queen. When Mary appears to be pregnant, the Royal Court awaits formal news of an heir and Elizabeth must accept that her position in the secession must wait. However, not everything is always as it appears and Elizabeth’s role becomes all the more important, for herself and England as a whole. A wonderful mix of English history and some fictional interpretations, Field continues to dazzle with this piece and the series as a whole. Recommended to those who love all things Tudor, as well as the reader who finds historical fiction right up their alley.

I have long enjoyed the work of David Field, reading anything of his on which I could get my hands. His work here with the Tudors is of particular interest to me, as I enjoy this time period in English history. The story seeks to tell a double narrative, with the power that Mary has acquired as she tries to reshape England in her Catholic image, while Lady Elizabeth waits her turn and forges bonds of her own around Court. Field builds up both women throughout the piece, hinting at their differences and similarities in equal measure. This time is history was surely harrowing and with powerful women at play, it is an added layer of excitement. The story takes place over a short time period, but is full of history and political intrigue, leaving the reader to find themselves in the middle of what was an important time. A quick read with easy to digest chapters, Field has shown that he is a master at historical fiction without drowning the reader in the minutiae. As the Tudor dynasty is coming to an end, Field will have to pull out all the stops in the sixth novel. I cannot wait to see how it all comes together.

Kudos, Mr. Field, for another wonderful novel. I have thoroughly enjoyed all you’ve written and cannot wait for more.

A Book for All Seasons, a different sort of Book Challenge: https://www.goodreads.com/group/show/248185-a-book-for-all-seasons