Fidelis Morgan has written a short series of books with The Countess of Ashby de la Zouch as the star, together with her buxom servant Alpiew. Together they reel from financial crisis to financial crisis, solving many a mystery on the way. You can practically feel the period of the seventeen hundreds in which the books are set, and will find yourself laughing out loud and page turning to find out just what befalls our intrepid ladies next. The books would have been a brilliant television series, and I could just see Beryl Reid as the Countess, come to think of it French and Saunders could do it very well. Different from almost anything that you may have read, Fidelis Morgan has created a superb set of gems , that are highly recommended.
All I want to know is 'will there be more?' This is the third in Fidelis Morgan's highly original seventeenth century detective series - not a seedy Glaswegian detective in sight! Her heroine is a down-at-heel aristocrat and her over-endowed serving maid - the comic potential of this pair is well-served in this, the naughtiest of the trilogy - I had to put the book down to bellow with laughter in parts - the double-entendres come thick and fast in this one - surely all those TV and film developers must be beating a path to Morgan's door? Those great theatrical dames of a certain age would give back their DBEs to play this part. The plot, as usual, is complex and the violence is surprisingly gory, but the laughs are never far behind the poisonings and the perfidy. Alpiew and Ashby De La Zouche find themselves in France at the court of Saint Germain as minders to the stepdaughter of Mrs Franklyn-Green but no sooner have they set foot on foreign soil than they are set upon by footpads ... or are they? Crime writers take note, you don't have to write about a sleazeball detective with a polystyrene cup of lukewarm coffee to keep your readers guessing.
I missed the usual London setting of this series of novels but I still enjoyed the plot. This is easy reading for those of us who like a historical novel but are overwhelmed at times by the seriousness of some authors.
However, I think that the author is in danger of reflecting Restoration comedies too fully in the names she chooses for her characters. A little more overt history and a little less slapstick probably wouldn't go amiss.
Stop-press - I've just read Hallie Rubenhold's first novel and I'd really recommend it over this book. It's better researched and I felt like it was an easy read but that I'd learned a lot about the history of the period when I wasn't looking!