As a founder member of Mystery Women in 1997, promoting Crime Fiction has always been my passion.
Following the closure of Mystery Women, a new group was formed on 30th January 2012 promoting crime fiction.
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Published by Matador, 28 July 2020. ISBN: 978-1-83859506-7 (PB)
A Pinch of Pure
is an anthology of six short stories set at the time of Ancient Rome, four in
Northern Britain and two in Rome itself. The four British mysteries feature
Aurelia Marcella, the innkeeper of the Oak Tree Mansio, who is the protagonist
in the author’s four full-length novels. In Roman Britain, an innkeeper was
usually a male profession, but Aurelia is a strong, woman who has turned the
Oak Tree into a successful business. Aurelia is a woman with determination,
courage and common-sense, which she uses to solve mysteries, large or small.
‘Wild By Name, Wild By Nature’, Aurelia and her sister, Albia, are delighted
when Feroux, The Wild Man, a famous gladiator, spends the night at the mansio,
but when Feroux becomes ill it could prove disastrous for the mansio’s
reputation. To counter the rumours that the Oak Tree’s food is responsible for
poisoning Feroux, Aurelia is determined to discover the truth. The story A
Pinch of Pure Cunning also provides the title for the anthology and in it
Aurelia uses a cat and superstition to help confirm the identity of a thief.
In The Golden Princess Aurelia conducts a locked room investigation,
although the crime is not murder but the theft of a valuable statue. Another
theft occurs in The Single-Handed Soldier, this time the missing item is
a bust of the Emperor Domitian and some gold coins, and once again Aurelia has
to discover the truth before the reputation of the mansio is damaged.
two stories set in Rome have different male protagonists. In Hide and Seek,
Marius, a member of the Praetorian Guard, finds himself in a desperate
situation when a letter from his brother is intercepted by the Emperor’s spies
and its contents appear to commit the ultimate treason, that of criticising the
Emperor Nero’s singing. Trapped in his prison cell, Marius has to work out the
reason behind his brother’s fatal indiscretion and placate Nero before they are
both executed. The Cleopatra Game is based on the story that the
Egyptian Queen, Cleopatra, had dissolved her pearls in red wine and drank them.
When a bride-to-be plays the same game, it has deadly results, and Rufus, a
nobleman’s bodyguard, investigates.
six stories are cleverly crafted with engaging protagonists, neat plots, and
fascinating historical backgrounds. They are all excellent in themselves, as
well as making a delightful introduction to the Aurelia Marcella novels. A
Pinch of Pure Cunning is a very good read, which I recommend.
Jane Finnisread history at the University of London before working as a
radio producer for the BBC.Her Roman mysteries are about
life (and death) in first-century Roman Britain. They feature Aurelia Marcella,
who runs an inn on the road to York, and keeps getting drawn into solving
mysteries in what is still a new frontier province of the mighty Roman Empire.
Jane now lives ineast Yorkshire and spends her time
researching and writing about the Roman Empire.
Carol Westronis a successful short story writer and a Creative
Writing teacher.She is the moderator
for the cosy/historical crime panel, The Deadly Dames.Her crime novels are set both in contemporary
and Victorian times.The Terminal
Velocity of Cats the first in her Scene of Crimes novels, was published
July 2013. Carol recently gave an interview to Mystery People. To read the
interview click on the link below.