Tag: historical fiction

Looking for a Publisher, Pre-Printing Press


Sir Thomas Malory is dead. Anthony Tanner learns of his friend’s death when he arrives at Newgate Prison, where Malory had been imprisoned.  Three of Malory’s friends and supporters need advice from Tanner on the handling of Malory’s life work, “L’Morte de Arthur.”

“Malory’s Quest, a novel by Helen Lewis, follows the adventures of Tanner, Malory’s men, and the fate of Malory’s manuscript. Set in the aftermath of the 1471 Battle of Barnet (where Tanner fought for the losing side), it shows them attempting to carry out Malory’s posthumous wishes for the disposal of the manuscript.

The Newgate Three, Malory’s scribe Monty Pickle, his stationer Jack Works, and his servant, John “Pom” Appleby, were charged with placing the manuscript in the archives of Westminster Abby. Being London born and bred, they have no idea how to get there. The well-traveled Tanner (a soldier and spy), advises them, intending to accompany them.

A Mystery Series Opening on a Maiden Voyage


In 1999, published under the pen name Conrad Allen, a mystery was released.  It featured a murder aboard RMS Lusitania during its maiden voyage. It was the first of eight mysteries featuring detectives George Porter Dillman and Genevieve Masefield aboard various Atlantic liners in the years prior to World War I.

“Murder on the Lusitania,” by Edward Marston, rereleases the book. Marston, like Allen, is a pen name used by author Keith Miles, the one he most commonly uses.

Dillman’s role is revealed gradually. He has been hired by the Cunard to operate undercover among the passengers aboard Lusitania during its 1907 maiden voyage. He is traveling as a first-class passenger, with the other passengers unaware of his true role. His mission is to mingle among the passengers keeping a watch out for petty criminals (pickpockets and thieves) and professional gamblers who might be working the passengers.

The Life of a Free Black in the Early 19th Century


James Woodman, a free black, lives in Washington DC. It is 1814. His father, a black veteran of the American Revolution used the land grant he received for his service to establish a farm in the Pennsylvania frontier, near Gettysburg. James struck out on his own, opening a livery stable in the nation’s new capital.

Journey: The Story of an American Family, a novel by Gary V. Brill, tells of James Woodman and his family over four decades of the early nineteenth century.

Woodman has always been free. As the book opens, he is a man of property. Many neighbors, white and black, respect him for his industry and his judgment. He is a member of the local militia.

A Novel About the Author of ‘The Prince’


Niccolò Machiavelli is best known for his work “The Prince,” written in 1513. Today he is associated with political deceit and deviousness. To be Machiavellian is to behave unscrupulously. The actual man was quite different than his modern reputation. He was a staunch believer in republican government, and was viewed as an honest diplomatic broker.

“The Diplomat of Florence: A Novel of Machiavelli and the Borgias,” by Anthony Robert Wildman is a fictional biography of Machiavelli’s life. It covers the period from the 1498 end of the Medici rule in Florence until its restoration fifteen years later. This was the era of the Florentine Republic, Savonarola, and the Italian Renaissance.

The novel shows Machiavelli’s development from a minor bureaucrat in home-town Florence’s diplomatic establishment to one of the Republic of Florence’s most senior and respected diplomats. You watch his battles with his bureaucratic rivals, his progression to the head of his household, and his marriage.

Action in the Dark Days of the Battle of the Atlantic


C. S. Forester was one of the most popular authors of the middle twentieth century. He died in 1966. Best known for his Horatio Hornblower novels, he wrote many other books, including mysteries and many other sea stories.

“The Good Shepherd,” by C. S. Forester, was one of those other sea novels. Originally published in 1955, it was adapted into the movie “Greyhound” by Tom Hanks. Released in 2020, the movie led several publishers, including the Naval Institute Press, to republish the book.

“The Good Shepherd,” set in World War II’s Battle of the Atlantic, recounts 52 hours of a 1942 winter crossing of the Atlantic by a slow convoy. It was the worst part of the Battle of the Atlantic. The escort is inadequate; German U-boats numerous.

The French Resistance and German Defiance at the Liberation of Paris


Billy Boyle was a detective in the Boston Police Department when the US entered World War II. He came from the stereotypical cop Irish Catholic family. His family mistrusted the English. His father and uncle wanted him to serve their country, but want him safe.  To do this they get Billy a posting with Uncle Ike, an obscure brigadier general, assigned to the General Staff in Washington, DC.

“When Hell Struck Twelve: A Billy Boyle WWII Mystery,” by James Benn, is the fourteenth novel about the results of this pairing.

Uncle Ike was Dwight Eisenhower. Shortly after Billy joins Eisenhower’s staff, Eisenhower gets tagged as Commanding General European Theater of Operations. Uncle Ike is delighted to have Billy, a trained detective, around. Eisenhower needs someone for sensitive (and frequently dangerous) confidential investigations. Billy finds himself in a world of military intelligence, counterintelligence, and espionage. He becomes Ike’s go-to guy when the general needs of unquestioned loyalty for a quiet look.

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  One thing I can thank “big tech” for is the algorithm that led me to the Huguenot Chronicles.  There are three books in the Chronicles Merchants of Virtue, Voyage of Malice, Land of Hope,  there is also a prequel that I have not read yet so I do not further mention it in this […]

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I write a weekly book review for the Daily News of Galveston County. (It is not the biggest daily newspaper in Texas, but it is the oldest.) My review normally appears Wednesdays. When it appears, I post the review here on the following Sunday. Book Review Neither side backs down in ‘Shep in the Victorio War’ By […]

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Book Review: Between Worlds Never to Return


For as long as Texas was an independent republic or part of the United States those within it have been citizens, not subjects. That was true in the 19th-century Germanies. “Between Worlds Never to Return,” a novel about German immigration to Texas, by Barbara Ortwein illustrates the difference.

Set in the 1840s, the novel follows Karl Engelbach and his son Johann as they abandon their farm in Hesse to come to Texas. The senior Engelbach is a revolutionary. He wants inappropriate things: the freedom to say what you want and to travel without permits. When soldiers raid the political meeting Karl is attending and kill Karl’s brother, Karl must flee. A childhood friend (also present at the meeting, but not caught) is part of an effort to establish a German colony in the Republic of Texas. He sends Karl that way.

The book traces the Engelbachs’ travels through Germany, across the Atlantic by sailing ship to Charleston, SC, from steamship to Texas, and overland to what becomes New Braunfels and Fredericksburg. On each leg of the voyage the pair faces different challenges.

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I need to research Ted Kennedy for my next novel and I really, really don’t want to wade through hundreds of pages of apology and hero worship. Neither do I particularly want to limit myself to hit pieces. Can someone recommend a good bio or two that documents the sleaze in an honest way? (And […]

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