The Flame Eater: Murder, Mystery and suspense in the 15th century
Barbara Gaskell Denvil, author
Nicholas, now heir to the earldom, has no desire to marry his dead brother’s cast-off mistress. And Emeline has no desire to marry the brutal monster who murdered his brother, the man she loved and hoped to marry. This arranged marriage is a disaster, it would seem that it can’t get any worse. But it does. Fire rages through the castle and takes over the wedding night, and any hopes of reconciliation. But not everything is as it seems. Murder and arson are destroying more than just one alliance, and the culprit is unknown. But there are other matters to consider. It is 1484 and Richard III is England’s monarch. The king entrusts many of his lords with responsibilities in the service of their country, and Nicholas is charged with the undercover investigation into two desperately important situations, which involves travel to the south of England. Emeline joins with her younger sister and others of the household, determined to discover who is responsible for the disasters which have now entirely disrupted their lives. But the suspects are so many. It is therefore a group of eager but desperate women of various ages, characters and capabilities who attempt to solve the mystery. Meanwhile, Nicholas learns that he has a wife to admire and to adore. But is he a murderer? Is her mother? Her nurse? And will England’s political turmoil threaten their peace and cause even greater uncertainty? Life will never be the same. But perhaps that is just as well.
This meticulously detailed romantic thriller portrays two flawed families in medieval England whose less moral members are victims of a murderer/arsonist. The families are united in 1485 when heiress Emeline Wrotham marries Nicholas Chatwyn, an earl’s son and the aloof, scarred younger brother of Emeline’s true love, Peter, who was murdered. On their wedding night, the castle is engulfed in flames, and Nicholas is injured. Emeline and Nicholas, who is still recovering from extensive burns, depart for his cousin’s Nottingham home while the castle is being repaired, but an outbreak of the plague sends them away, eventually to London. During their travels, the marriage is consummated, and they become true partners, in love and in adventures. Charismatic and witty, Nicholas is the heart of Denvil’s novel; he works undercover for King Richard, rooting out political threats while maintaining the persona of a lazy drunkard to his disapproving father, whose favorite son is dead. Denvil’s numerous minor characters are as intriguing as Nicholas, infusing vitality and never detracting from the story. Everyday 15th-century life is richly evoked—the clothing, food, travel, habits—providing substance to a winning narrative. Family dysfunction is deftly woven into a mélange of murder, politics, and romance, with a wickedly realistic, often comical portrayal of kinship. (BookLife)