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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. Ri 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.


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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. Ri 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.

30 review for Murder by Misrule

  1. 4 out of 5

    Carol She's So Novel꧁꧂

    3.5★ A lively & engaging tale, although the author did try to pack too much of her research into this tale - it was as though Ms Castle couldn't bear to waste a single fact! & the cast of characters was also a bit too large which made it hard for me to keep all the facts straight in my head. Even with the large ensemble it was still easy for me to guess the murderer. Still an entertaining, fast paced tale with a mixture of real life characters -like Francis Bacon himself. I would have liked to hav 3.5★ A lively & engaging tale, although the author did try to pack too much of her research into this tale - it was as though Ms Castle couldn't bear to waste a single fact! & the cast of characters was also a bit too large which made it hard for me to keep all the facts straight in my head. Even with the large ensemble it was still easy for me to guess the murderer. Still an entertaining, fast paced tale with a mixture of real life characters -like Francis Bacon himself. I would have liked to have seen more of Mr Bacon, rather than his fictional sidekicks. & I would have liked this book to have kept more to the point. Fast paced & fun, so I may try another book in this series.

  2. 4 out of 5

    Noe

    A book that began with wonderful potential petered into pure blah. We are presented with a murder right away, which was very promising. (I refuse to read books that take forever to get to the point.) The murder then becomes more intriguing and the story expands to include a plot to remove the sitting queen and replace her with the Catholic Queen Mary who is in prison at the time. Instead of delivering a tale of sweeping proportions, as you might expect, it gets dragged down by silly accounts of y A book that began with wonderful potential petered into pure blah. We are presented with a murder right away, which was very promising. (I refuse to read books that take forever to get to the point.) The murder then becomes more intriguing and the story expands to include a plot to remove the sitting queen and replace her with the Catholic Queen Mary who is in prison at the time. Instead of delivering a tale of sweeping proportions, as you might expect, it gets dragged down by silly accounts of young men seeking to be lawyers. From something that promised to be like the Three Musketeers, it unveils to be frat boys on the loose. Also, I don't know why the author put Francis Bacon in the title. He is rarely in the story, and when he is present, he is a cardboard figure saying lines. Bacon is supposed to be a genius but comes across inept and outdone by the real main character named Tom. Another thing that made the story crawl along for me was all the descriptions of people's clothes. Why do some authors think everyone wants to know how each and every person is dressed? Take a lesson from Jane Austen and just move the story along instead of bogging down with unnecessary details of clothing and rooms. When I first started the book, I thought, "Ah, a story that will make for enjoyable reading!", but alas, no. At the beginning, I felt like a person who was told they were going to a wonderful restaurant only to find out pretty quickly that we were going to McDonald's.

  3. 5 out of 5

    Kathy

    This was a free kindle book from Amazon, but I don't plan to read further in this series. I did not see it tagged for Young Adults, but the book seems to me to be written at that level. Everything is explained in detail, from the nod of a head to elaborate bows and court dress and no character is allowed independent thought or action without narrator interference and justifications - quite like hearing stage directions in ones ear. A murder takes place early on and Bacon is assigned (by his uncle This was a free kindle book from Amazon, but I don't plan to read further in this series. I did not see it tagged for Young Adults, but the book seems to me to be written at that level. Everything is explained in detail, from the nod of a head to elaborate bows and court dress and no character is allowed independent thought or action without narrator interference and justifications - quite like hearing stage directions in ones ear. A murder takes place early on and Bacon is assigned (by his uncle) with finding who did it as a way to gain favor with Queen Elizabeth.

  4. 4 out of 5

    TXGAL1

    I really enjoy Historical Fiction married with Mystery; but, I think this book, in a bookstore, would be shelved under Historical Fashion or Cookbooks of the Ancient Past due to the incessant references to fashion and food. It was impossible to get good “traction” in the Mystery. This book should not take long to read, but I had to draaggg myself through it over a week’s time. It was mind-numbing. The synopsis had intrigued me and I was looking forward to a Francis Bacon Mystery; but, unfortunate I really enjoy Historical Fiction married with Mystery; but, I think this book, in a bookstore, would be shelved under Historical Fashion or Cookbooks of the Ancient Past due to the incessant references to fashion and food. It was impossible to get good “traction” in the Mystery. This book should not take long to read, but I had to draaggg myself through it over a week’s time. It was mind-numbing. The synopsis had intrigued me and I was looking forward to a Francis Bacon Mystery; but, unfortunately, this book was definitely not my cup of tea.

  5. 4 out of 5

    Peggyzbooksnmusic

    Very entertaining historical mystery set in late 16th century England during the reign of Elizabeth I. Francis Bacon, who will become Lord Chancellor and is credited as the "Father of Scientific Method", is 25 and at the beginning of his law career. He becomes involved with the investigation into the murder of a fellow barrister that has possible connections to political intrigue. The mystery is cleverly presented but in my opinion the highlight of this series is the characterization of Francis Very entertaining historical mystery set in late 16th century England during the reign of Elizabeth I. Francis Bacon, who will become Lord Chancellor and is credited as the "Father of Scientific Method", is 25 and at the beginning of his law career. He becomes involved with the investigation into the murder of a fellow barrister that has possible connections to political intrigue. The mystery is cleverly presented but in my opinion the highlight of this series is the characterization of Francis Bacon. Through witty dialogue and Bacon's interactions with memorable secondary characters we get some insight into what will be his historically labeled "Bacon's Scientific Method". I really enjoyed how the author brought out Bacon's brilliant mind and sly humor. Many of his fellow barristers at Gray Inn are jealous of his intellect and part of Bacon's charm is his complete disregard for popularity. Makes for some memorable dialogue! Helping Francis Bacon are 4 younger "interns". I don't want to give away any spoilers but I'm sure they will be featured in the upcoming mysteries in this series. My favorite quote comes near the end and is uttered by Queen Elizabeth I as she is being carried away by Sir Walter Raleigh from her Christmas Eve celebration at court: "Mr. Bacon," she said over Raleigh's shoulder, "do not expect an invitation to dinner on New Year's Day." You will have to read this book to understand why this is SO hilarious! Highly recommend this to fans of the Sir Robert Carey series by P. F. Chisholm (aka Patricia Finney).

  6. 5 out of 5

    Lady Clementina ffinch-ffarowmore

    This is the first of a series of mysteries featuring Francis Bacon which I got free via kindle. Bacon here is at Gray’s Inn where he trying to advance his position but is inhibited by his age, and by the fact that he has gotten himself into trouble at court by his suggestions for reform. His uncle, Lord Burghley, entrusts him with enquiring into the murder of a fellow barrister who it turns out was undertaking some enquiries on his behalf, secretly of course. With his pupils doing the legwork, B This is the first of a series of mysteries featuring Francis Bacon which I got free via kindle. Bacon here is at Gray’s Inn where he trying to advance his position but is inhibited by his age, and by the fact that he has gotten himself into trouble at court by his suggestions for reform. His uncle, Lord Burghley, entrusts him with enquiring into the murder of a fellow barrister who it turns out was undertaking some enquiries on his behalf, secretly of course. With his pupils doing the legwork, Bacon is keen to solve the mystery as fast as he can so as to get back on good terms with the queen. Others deaths occur, while his pupils trace a key eyewitness and also get along with life at the Inn. This was a nice read—nothing exceptional but fun enough. The mystery or rather series is named after Bacon but it is the pupils who do most of the work; to add to it Bacon while presented as highly intelligent and rather arrogant about it seems too quick to jump to conclusions simply to close the case as fast as he can, which isn’t to my mind in keeping with his supposed intelligence. I enjoyed the mix of real and fictional characters and elements. The mystery had its share of twists, and was fairly enjoyable.

  7. 4 out of 5

    Pamela Shropshire

    I got the box set of this 6-book series (even though GR only shows 5 books to date) on special for $4.95. I haven’t read much fiction set in the Elizabethan era. Also, being a paralegal, I found the legal bits particularly interesting. I thought it had a decent mystery; in fact, there were actually two unrelated mysteries, one of which served as a red herring for the “proper” murder. I did not know for sure who the murderer was although I did make an accurate guess. I look forward to reading more I got the box set of this 6-book series (even though GR only shows 5 books to date) on special for $4.95. I haven’t read much fiction set in the Elizabethan era. Also, being a paralegal, I found the legal bits particularly interesting. I thought it had a decent mystery; in fact, there were actually two unrelated mysteries, one of which served as a red herring for the “proper” murder. I did not know for sure who the murderer was although I did make an accurate guess. I look forward to reading more.

  8. 4 out of 5

    Erin Al-Mehairi

    Elizabethan life and times certainly make for all kinds of outstanding books as there seems to be a never-ending supply of ideas, intrigues, and mysteries from which to write historical novels or imaginate (yes, I made up a word) stories. I particularly like many of the mystery novels springing up based in this time period and Murder by Misrule, a book in Anna Castle’s Francis Bacon Mystery Series, is certainly one that can take a front row shelf. Castle debuts her writing with this first mystery Elizabethan life and times certainly make for all kinds of outstanding books as there seems to be a never-ending supply of ideas, intrigues, and mysteries from which to write historical novels or imaginate (yes, I made up a word) stories. I particularly like many of the mystery novels springing up based in this time period and Murder by Misrule, a book in Anna Castle’s Francis Bacon Mystery Series, is certainly one that can take a front row shelf. Castle debuts her writing with this first mystery in an at least three-part series. Set in the mid-1500s, Sir Francis Bacon is keen on climbing the social ladder and regaining favor he had lost from the Queen (Queen Elizabeth I, of course). When a murder occurs, he senses this to be an opportunity to increase his value, but as someone who likes to remain home due to his backward personality (and since he needs time to read), he sends his law pupils out to solve the mystery, namely Tom Clarady, the son of a privateer. However, everyone it seems has their own agenda, every characters that Castle introduces their own intricate web they are weaving in order to get what they want, or cover up what they don’t want found. Everything and anything seems to have fallen asunder, especially since it is the time of misrule, when things are turned upside on purpose. I enjoyed Castle’s book, read it quickly during a nightly bout of non-sleeping, and was so entertained that I didn’t wish to fall asleep. Her writing is quick-witted and each character has a special quality and very precise personality that blends with the others to create a whole. Tom is at the center of it all, doing all the work for Francis. I suppose Tom’s even the protagonist in my mind. It’s like Holmes to Sherlock, I suppose, but reminds me more of if Agatha Christie’s Hercule Poirot had stayed in and sent out a side kick. I’ve enjoyed these types of English mysteries since I first read Agatha Christie as a teenager, then moved on to Sherlock Holmes, but Castle was able to create a novel that resembled this type of mystery while changing up the plot and structure so that it was also totally unique. Castle wove authentic historical people and facts into a historical mystery novel, creating a mystery with even more depth. She was able to cover the paranoia and social turmoil of this era as well within her plot so that she created a well-rounded, well-researched, well-plotted, and well-detailed novel that takes your mind back in time to decipher a puzzle for which she created twists, turns, and surprises. When I thought I’d have it figured out, then I wouldn’t. She did a great job with her element of surprise. I loved Castle’s humor and suspenseful writing. I highly recommend this book to any historical mystery reader or fans of the Elizabethan era of intrigue. If you like mysteries, you’ll love this one. I’m looking forward to the next book in her series. I was given a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review. You can see all my reviews and interviews at www.hookofabook.wordpress.com.

  9. 5 out of 5

    Bandit

    Why wouldn’t the man known to have used the inductive reasoning for his scientific method solve crimes in his spare times? Presumably that’s the premise behind this book, the first in series. For me it was very much a middle of the road read. I enjoy historical fiction and mysteries, naturally seems like the intersection of both would be oodles of fun. This isn’t even my first historical mystery, but the thing is it appears that nearly all of them are series and series I don’t care for, all that Why wouldn’t the man known to have used the inductive reasoning for his scientific method solve crimes in his spare times? Presumably that’s the premise behind this book, the first in series. For me it was very much a middle of the road read. I enjoy historical fiction and mysteries, naturally seems like the intersection of both would be oodles of fun. This isn’t even my first historical mystery, but the thing is it appears that nearly all of them are series and series I don’t care for, all that commitment and predictability. Anyway, this one is set in 1586, when after displeasing Elizabeth I with his impudence, Frank (why not go for the familiar) is staying below the radar until he’s given a murder to solve and then another and another. Being a logical man, he delegates a good chunk of the crime solving to his mentees, young students of law, very much concerned with the sort of thing most youngsters are concerned with irrespective of the day and age. And yet, finding time away from various romances and excessive grooming and preening, crimes do get solved…over the festive time referred to as Misrule. The man with the plan here is presented as a slight, clever and gay, which might have been the case, he did protest too much in his New Atlantis after all. There are also some real historical personage making appearances throughout the book, but it is largely fictitious, with the author even manipulating the well known facts to fit within the narrative. The result is a very light sort of read, even despite the darkness of English winter and matter of murders. Nearly as much time spent on sartorial discussions as in on the famed induction. Everyone’s dressed for success and rides off into the sunset gaily, until the next adventure. Which I’m not too tempted to look for after reading this, but there must be a market for out there. Now if someone wrote a book about Francis the Delicious and Rosicrucianism, something dark and occulty and twisted…that would have been really interesting. This was a mild diversion, easy entertainment and not much more. The substance all pleated and ruched and gauzy much like the elaborate outfits of the day. For a Kindle freebie it was decent enough.

  10. 5 out of 5

    Historical Fiction

    Find this and other reviews at: http://flashlightcommentary.blogspot.... I have mixed feelings about Anna Castle's Murder by Misrule. On one hand I found it entertaining in an amusing sort of way, but on the other, I must admit the story didn't grab me the way I'd hoped it would. Castle's characters are a diverse collection of individuals. The socially awkward and disgraced Bacon, the rogue Tom Clarady, the pretentious Stephen Delabere, the stately Allen Trumpington and the earnest Benjamin Whitt Find this and other reviews at: http://flashlightcommentary.blogspot.... I have mixed feelings about Anna Castle's Murder by Misrule. On one hand I found it entertaining in an amusing sort of way, but on the other, I must admit the story didn't grab me the way I'd hoped it would. Castle's characters are a diverse collection of individuals. The socially awkward and disgraced Bacon, the rogue Tom Clarady, the pretentious Stephen Delabere, the stately Allen Trumpington and the earnest Benjamin Whitt make a well-rounded team and though somewhat predictable, I found I enjoyed following their exploits. There are several scenes that boast great tension and intrigue, but that sense of suspense often waned between key points in the narrative. It isn't a bad story, but I think I might had appreciated it more if the momentum established in the early chapters had been maintained through the final page. A humorous tale, Murder by Misrule is brimming with levity and mirth. A lighter historical the book is sure to enchant those looking for airy and upbeat fiction.

  11. 5 out of 5

    Anne

    I am a massive fan of Sir Francis Bacon, having read many of his essays. So when I spotted this book, combining Francis Bacon with a murder mystery, I immedietely knew I had to read it. Unfortunately, I was pretty disappointed. There are far too many characters to keep track of. Bacon himself is often in the background of the investigation, leaving the footwork to his assistant Tom and several of Tom’s friends (Ben, Stephen, Trumpet…there may be more, but I don’t remember, because heaven knows t I am a massive fan of Sir Francis Bacon, having read many of his essays. So when I spotted this book, combining Francis Bacon with a murder mystery, I immedietely knew I had to read it. Unfortunately, I was pretty disappointed. There are far too many characters to keep track of. Bacon himself is often in the background of the investigation, leaving the footwork to his assistant Tom and several of Tom’s friends (Ben, Stephen, Trumpet…there may be more, but I don’t remember, because heaven knows they blend together completely). These university boys bumble through the entire story, not really solving the crime and usually stumbling over useful information at random. The murder itself was interesting (the murder of a lawyer being stabbed ferociously in the streets of London), but as the story progressed I felt as if the mystery divulged into a bland adventure story with little rising action. There was some interesting historical details in the book, which was the only part I actually enjoyed, but the story and characters itself were entirely uninteresting to me. Full review on my blog: https://madamewriterblog.com/2019/04/...

  12. 4 out of 5

    Sherry Sharpnack

    I had high hopes for this mystery featuring Francis Bacon. There wasn’t enough Francis Bacon, but we got introduced to a group of law students whom he mentored instead. It ends up mostly about Tom, the son of a pirate who wants to turn Tom into a gentleman, so he sends him to the Inns of Court. One of the major lawyers gets murdered and solving his murder, plus the next two, occupies the minds of Mr. Bacon and his protégés. They are trying to do this while preparing the festivities for the Inn t I had high hopes for this mystery featuring Francis Bacon. There wasn’t enough Francis Bacon, but we got introduced to a group of law students whom he mentored instead. It ends up mostly about Tom, the son of a pirate who wants to turn Tom into a gentleman, so he sends him to the Inns of Court. One of the major lawyers gets murdered and solving his murder, plus the next two, occupies the minds of Mr. Bacon and his protégés. They are trying to do this while preparing the festivities for the Inn to celebrate the Christmas season. This really doesn’t mesh together well, and I still don’t really understand how we got to the discovery of the murderer. Basically, one of the students had an “AHA!” moment about his Uncle. Personalities change inexplicably, really messing up the plot line for me. Throw in a sudden infatuation that goes Cold, and I was just left confused.

  13. 4 out of 5

    edifanob

    This is an entertaining medieval historical mystery with loveable characters, profound historical background, scenes to smile and an interesting plot. It is "lighter" in tone compared to The Secret World of Christoval Alvarez set in the same period of time. Looking forward to read the next book in the series - Death by Disputation - to be published in December 2014. This is an entertaining medieval historical mystery with loveable characters, profound historical background, scenes to smile and an interesting plot. It is "lighter" in tone compared to The Secret World of Christoval Alvarez set in the same period of time. Looking forward to read the next book in the series - Death by Disputation - to be published in December 2014.

  14. 5 out of 5

    Meg - A Bookish Affair

    3.5 stars. "Murder by Misrule" is the first book in a new historical mystery series that has Francis Bacon as the protagonist and chief mystery solver. Yes, that Francis Bacon as in the famous English statesman and philosopher. This is a wholly original series that got off to a pretty good start! Taking place in the Elizabethan age, this book has a seriously interesting setting. When the book opens, our hero, Bacon, is trying to gain the favor of the powers that be, namely that of the lovely Quee 3.5 stars. "Murder by Misrule" is the first book in a new historical mystery series that has Francis Bacon as the protagonist and chief mystery solver. Yes, that Francis Bacon as in the famous English statesman and philosopher. This is a wholly original series that got off to a pretty good start! Taking place in the Elizabethan age, this book has a seriously interesting setting. When the book opens, our hero, Bacon, is trying to gain the favor of the powers that be, namely that of the lovely Queen. Bacon knows he wants to climb that ladder but isn't sure that he really wants to put himself out there. In a lot of ways, he really is a reluctant hero, but really that made it a little more interesting to me that he was not all that interested in making waves. The transition between where he was at the beginning of the book and where he was by the end of the book was really interesting to witness. Overall the story was pretty good. I loved the setting and I loved how Castle was able to weave a lot of historical figures and details together to really show the reader what Bacon's world might have been like. There were parts of the book that I thought could have been slimmed down a little bit. I also wanted to know more about the ending but it's hard to put down my thoughts on that part without knowing what awaits readers in the subsequent books!

  15. 4 out of 5

    Stephanie

    I’m always up for an elaborate crime thriller and an historical one to boot. Funny thing is, as I was waiting for this book in the mail, I kept on thinking this was going to be a Victorian one! *laughing* I’ve been on a Victorian era kick lately and I guess that is why….and wow was I surprised when I started reading the story! The premise intrigued me and the colorful cast of characters amused me. They all played an integrate part in the story, even the minor roles. It was entertaining seeing how I’m always up for an elaborate crime thriller and an historical one to boot. Funny thing is, as I was waiting for this book in the mail, I kept on thinking this was going to be a Victorian one! *laughing* I’ve been on a Victorian era kick lately and I guess that is why….and wow was I surprised when I started reading the story! The premise intrigued me and the colorful cast of characters amused me. They all played an integrate part in the story, even the minor roles. It was entertaining seeing how they interacted together solving the crime and I really developed a fondness for Tom Clarady. There were a lot of great scenes that grabbed my attention and a few in between that didn’t so much, I would have liked the momentum of the story to have been a little stronger. That is what I want in a mystery thriller. I really enjoyed the historical aspects of the story and learned a lot about Gray’s Inn….and Frances Bacon in how he must have been. And there is more to the story than meets the eye and leaves the readers imagination to explore that.

  16. 5 out of 5

    Calenmarwen

    Straightforward murder mystery. Easy read. Fairly well written. Starts well, with very intriguing ideas, and good introduction of characters. However, about half way through several minor plot points emerged concerning the supporting characters that came completely out of nowhere and to no particular purpose. Also by the end of the book, the possible suspects had been gone over so many times, it was rather obvious who the murder had to be.

  17. 5 out of 5

    May

    Thoroughly enjoyed this mystery set in Elizabethan England. Looking forward to the next one!!

  18. 4 out of 5

    Mal Warwick

    The year is 1586, the Spanish Armada two years in the future. A brilliant young English lawyer named Francis Bacon is headed for glory and high office. He was the youngest man yet to have been admitted to the bar and still is only twenty-five. Yet his impulsive nature has landed him in disrepute with the Queen, who has banished him from the Royal Court. Only when his powerful uncle assigns him to investigate the murder of a fellow barrister at Gray’s Inn does Bacon see a way back into the Queen’ The year is 1586, the Spanish Armada two years in the future. A brilliant young English lawyer named Francis Bacon is headed for glory and high office. He was the youngest man yet to have been admitted to the bar and still is only twenty-five. Yet his impulsive nature has landed him in disrepute with the Queen, who has banished him from the Royal Court. Only when his powerful uncle assigns him to investigate the murder of a fellow barrister at Gray’s Inn does Bacon see a way back into the Queen’s good graces. Thus, with customary drive and efficiency, he enlists the law students he is tutoring and sets out on an investigation that will expose the tragic fault lines in English society. Welcome to Murder by Misrule, the first in a series of six Francis Bacon mysteries. Bacon’s uncle, Lord Burghley, the Lord Treasurer, is convinced that Tobias Smythson was murdered by another barrister at Gray’s Inn. Working with his four young students, one of them as young as fifteen, Bacon’s assignment is to prove that Smythson was killed because he had uncovered the truth behind a Catholic conspiracy to smuggle seditious literature into the country. Sometimes together, sometimes apart, Bacon and the students stumble toward a solution to the case, risking their careers and their lives in the process. The novel is an encouraging beginning for the series of Francis Bacon mysteries. The historical record The Elizabethan Age was a time of great tumult in England. Although the Wars of the Roses (1455-87) had settled the civil war a century earlier, the country was still in the throes of religious conflict following the reign of Henry VIII (1491-1537). Conspiracies abounded, with Queen Mary of Scots in the Tower and her followers hatching one failed plot after another to assassinate Queen Elizabeth and return England to the not-so-tender mercies of the Roman Church. And in 1588, the Spanish Armada headed for disaster on England’s shores. Yet it was also the era of the English Renaissance, the time of William Shakespeare (1564-1616), Christopher Marlowe (1564-93) and Ben Jonson (1572-1637). And, yes, this was the time of Francis Bacon, too, who was in fact an historical figure of great importance. The father of the scientific method In centuries to come, Francis Bacon (1561-1626) came to be widely regarded as the father of the scientific method. A lawyer as well as a philosopher and statesman, he became the first person designated as Queen’s Counsel when Elizabeth I named him as her legal advisor in 1597. Later, under James I (James VI of Scotland), he was knighted and served successively as Attorney General of England and Wales and as Lord High Chancellor. Given his eminence as a methodical thinker, it’s not far-fetched to imagine him as the protagonist of the Francis Bacon mysteries. “A world lit only by fire” Shakespeare’s plays may give us the impression that life in the Elizabethan Era was in many ways like our own because, well, people were people. But that’s a trap. It’s important to remember that the time of her reign was still, in the words the historian William Manchester used to describe an earlier century, “a world lit only by fire.” Practically nothing we take for granted today in our daily lives had yet been invented. Life expectancy at birth was about forty years, but if one lived to the age of thirty, they would live on average to just under sixty. And the England of her time housed fewer than four million people, whereas today the country’s population is fifty-six million. London then held some 200,000 people; today the population stands at 9.3 million. Just imagine how much different life would be with population density so much lower. Imagine, too, the impact of the infectious diseases that swept through London then in a time when doctors were clueless about its origins.

  19. 4 out of 5

    Christopher Taylor

    This is the first book of a mystery series, and the first I've read by this author. It takes place in Elizabethan England, featuring a young Francis Bacon (and a host of great personages from the time) and a student named Thomas Clarady along with Clarady's schoolmates at Gray's. The setting is a law school of the time, around Christmas. Bacon is in disfavor at the court after his too-insistent suggestions for changes to law and a former mentor and colleague is found murdered, stabbed repeatedly. This is the first book of a mystery series, and the first I've read by this author. It takes place in Elizabethan England, featuring a young Francis Bacon (and a host of great personages from the time) and a student named Thomas Clarady along with Clarady's schoolmates at Gray's. The setting is a law school of the time, around Christmas. Bacon is in disfavor at the court after his too-insistent suggestions for changes to law and a former mentor and colleague is found murdered, stabbed repeatedly. Bacon is tasked with finding the murder as a method of regaining favor at the court, and he uses his new students to assist in the investigation. This book is rich with not just historical melodies, but a wonderful portrayal of young men at the time, mischeivous, boyish, focused on fashion and courtly behavior, writing songs and singing, and of course a lovely lass which Thomas falls for. There are plenty of twists and turns, but none too outrageous or ridiculous. For the most part, the writer does a wonderful job immersing you in the times without shame, explanation, or need to apologize for the attitudes and cultural norms of 16th century England. There's only one weak point, the religion is very lightly skipped over in terms of personal faith. Chapel is mentioned a few times and a few scattered pious utterings. There is some examination of the clash between Roman Catholicism, Anglicanism, and Puritanism, but no one seems to take any of it very seriously or have any particular personal attachment to any of it. But this was a very fine read, well told, very smart, and with great and interesting, complex characters which I recommend.

  20. 4 out of 5

    Richard Sutton

    Few historic figures in the letters, sciences and statesmanship measure up to Tudor England's Francis Bacon. While not tall of stature, he rose like a giant among his peers and many of his findings and discoveries endure today. His reputation has always amazed and intimidated me as someone unreachable for the power of his intellect, but fortunately there are authors like Anna Castle, who can shed some light on the person behind the legend. Turns out, in Ms. Castle's novel, we become acquainted w Few historic figures in the letters, sciences and statesmanship measure up to Tudor England's Francis Bacon. While not tall of stature, he rose like a giant among his peers and many of his findings and discoveries endure today. His reputation has always amazed and intimidated me as someone unreachable for the power of his intellect, but fortunately there are authors like Anna Castle, who can shed some light on the person behind the legend. Turns out, in Ms. Castle's novel, we become acquainted with Francis Bacon when he was a young man, struggling to find a place in the heavily class-layered society of Tudor England. In some ways his intellect became a liability. He was too smart for his own good, and too young to receive the accolades due him. In this story, we find him in law school, applying what later will become his principles of empiricism, to a strange murder of a colleague during a festival period. The story follows a twisting path that puts him to the test and we find where he came to his conclusions. Missed clues abound, and the witnesses may or may not be keeping some facts close. The book also reveals that even in those times, it was possible for a young man of modest birth to find recognition for his skills at the Bench and at Court. Ms. Castle introduces us to a core of school friends coming from very different backgrounds and the good humor, jokes and cheer are evident throughout. This was a satisfying, entertaining read that I recommend to anyone who enjoys engaging historical fiction!

  21. 5 out of 5

    Teri Sears

    The review prompt was “What did you think of this book?” My answer is that I found it tedious and boring. I would give it no stars if possible. I had to remind myself that it’s okay to not finish a book I purchased. The description sounded quite interesting, and I would still love to read that book. This just isn’t that book. I made it approximately 40% of the way through the book, and there was barely a sighting of our promised main character. There was barely mention of the murder, or the solvi The review prompt was “What did you think of this book?” My answer is that I found it tedious and boring. I would give it no stars if possible. I had to remind myself that it’s okay to not finish a book I purchased. The description sounded quite interesting, and I would still love to read that book. This just isn’t that book. I made it approximately 40% of the way through the book, and there was barely a sighting of our promised main character. There was barely mention of the murder, or the solving of it. Instead the story was encumbered with unnecessary descriptions of men’s robes, and school boy angst about social pecking order. That’s where I gave up because I literally did not want to listen to another word that narrator had to say. This book is definitely not for me.

  22. 5 out of 5

    Nina

    I just adored Francis Bacon and his band of merry law students. I had already read the second book in the series and wanted to go back and pick up the first to get a little backstory. It was even better! This one takes place at the Inn of Courts. A member of Gray's Inn is found murdered and Francis is called upon to solve it. Two more murders follow and someone even attempts to murder Francis. Everything seems to be connected to the " Catholic conspiracy" to sneak materials into Elizabeth's Prot I just adored Francis Bacon and his band of merry law students. I had already read the second book in the series and wanted to go back and pick up the first to get a little backstory. It was even better! This one takes place at the Inn of Courts. A member of Gray's Inn is found murdered and Francis is called upon to solve it. Two more murders follow and someone even attempts to murder Francis. Everything seems to be connected to the " Catholic conspiracy" to sneak materials into Elizabeth's Protestant England. Meanwhile, student Tom Clarady has fallen madly in love with a Flemish limner who may have witnessed the first murder. Good 16th century fun.

  23. 5 out of 5

    Sharon

    This is an excellent mystery featuring historical figures Christopher Marlow and Francis Bacon. Francis Bacon dispatches Tom, an "intelligencer", to identify the leader of a group of Puritans so the guilty ringleader can be arrested for sedition. Unfortunately this is not the only crime committed and Tom's life is on the line as he works to help identify the guilty man and preserve innocent others. This is an excellent mystery featuring historical figures Christopher Marlow and Francis Bacon. Francis Bacon dispatches Tom, an "intelligencer", to identify the leader of a group of Puritans so the guilty ringleader can be arrested for sedition. Unfortunately this is not the only crime committed and Tom's life is on the line as he works to help identify the guilty man and preserve innocent others.

  24. 4 out of 5

    Awallens

    Great start to a series This book was so fun. It was almost like the mystery was secondary. It was good, and the way they unmasked the killer was entertaining, but the thing I like the most about this mystery was the characters, setting, and atmosphere. I will definitely be getting the next in the series.

  25. 5 out of 5

    Allyn Nichols

    Jolly good fun While there are some things which need a little tweak ( author notified ) this is a fun tale and highly recommended for any fan of historical fiction. Looking forward to more in this series.

  26. 4 out of 5

    farR

    Intriguing first book in series This is the first book in Francis Bacon series and I loved it. The mystery is intriguing enough. The writing is good and the setting is in my favourite era. I’ll definitely buy the next book.

  27. 5 out of 5

    Judy Nelson

    INTERESTING!!! This was an interesting read based on real historical figures. The men seemed a bit effeminate, so clothes conscious and courteous.

  28. 4 out of 5

    Debbie

    I really enjoyed this book - cleverly set in history, delightful characters, complex mystery, and educated writing. I will read more of these!!

  29. 5 out of 5

    Lexie Conyngham

    Francis Bacon, who has offended the Queen, is bemoaning his lot when he comes across the corpse of a venerable lawyer, his old tutor. We’re straight into the action of Elizabethan London here. The style is good if a bit convoluted, and there’s a touch too much background information all at once, but the plot is pleasantly complex and it’s fairly easy to imagine ourselves in the setting.

  30. 5 out of 5

    Ruth Chatlien

    This was a light, entertaining read set in Elizabethan times. I’m looking forward to the second one.

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