A Sickness in the Soul
An Ashmole Foxe Georgian Mystery
by William Savage
|Genres||Mystery, Historical Fiction|
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“A Sickness in the Soul” is the sixth story in the Ashmole Foxe series, featuring a wealthy young bookseller with time on his hands, who has become the person to whom the city authorities turn to clear up all the more complex and messy crimes in the city. This is a time before police forces and public prosecutors, so all detection and prosecution of crimes is down to interested individuals.
It is also a story set in the England of the 1760s; a time of rigid class distinctions, where the rich idle their days away in magnificent mansions, while hungry children beg, steal and prostitute themselves on the streets; an era on the cusp of revolution in America and France. The England of the time is a land where outward wealth and display hide simmering political and social tensions. The country had faced intermittent wars with several continental countries for the past fifty years and would need to survive a further series of world-wide conflicts in the fifty years ahead.
Into this comes a series of murders in Norwich, which was still the second or third largest city in England at the time. At the outset, all appear straightforward to unravel. An aristocrat is killed after a public row at a masked ball; an elderly, reclusive scholar with a young wife is murdered in his own library; and there is a seemingly senseless professional assassination of a homeless vagrant. In each case, everyone looks to Ashmole Foxe to unravel the answers and bring the killer or killers to justice. Those answers turn out to be far messier and more complex than anyone imagines.