This is the first in a new weekly series of posts on my blog, sharing my favourite recent reads every Friday and recommending them as weekend reads. This feature will supersede the book blog that I’ve been writing for the last couple of years, as I was finding it too much of a strain to keep two websites running in parallel. In time I’ll move the reviews from the other site back to the archive here, and you’ll always be able to find a complete list of the reviews held on this site on the index page here. Given that I read at least one book at week, and often more, I should have no shortage of material, but I’ll only ever share here the books that I wholeheartedly recommend.
Today I’d like to recommend two historical detective series that I’ve been reading in parallel over the last few years, following their development from the day the first in each series was launched. I’ve even introduced the authors to each other (online, as they live on opposite sides of the country), as they seem to have so much in common. I just wish I could get their two heroes in the same room together too!
Meet Dan Foster and Sam Plank
Dan Foster is the creation of Lucienne Boyce, and Sam Plank is from the pen of Susan Grossey. Both are Bow Street runners, from the early era of British policing when constables sought out criminals for local magistrates to bring them to justice.
Dan Foster & Sam Plank: Compare and Contrast
- Both are sensitively drawn, complex characters, who have risen above deprived and difficult backgrounds – Dan was a child pickpocket turned bareknuckle boxer, and Sam was a street urchin.
- Each has acquired an interesting wife, providing thoughtful subplots and plenty of character development opportunities. Sam’s is a loving and loveable helper, but Dan’s is introduced as a drunken, self-pitying wretch. Both, by coincidence, are childless.
- Both solve crimes particular to the age, against meticulously researched historical backgrounds. While their stories are set against a detailed and vivid backdrop, in neither case does the reader feel on the receiving end of a history lesson.
- Dan’s adventures are darker and grittier than Sam’s, but despite being more violent (only when necessary to the plot, I hasten to add), they are also sensitively drawn, with poignant moments cleverly woven in amongst the adventures, as they are in Sam’s too.
I’ve read and enjoyed all of the adventures of both so far, and have been lucky enough to have a sneak preview of Dan’s second and third stories prior to publication. But for this weekend, I’m recommending Dan’s second, The Fatal Coin, and Sam’s fourth, Portraits of Pretence – and when you’ve read them, I’m sure you’ll be glad to know that there are more adventures of both ready and waiting for you.
What I’ll Be Reading This Weekend
- my first ever Georgette Heyer novel, Footsteps in the Dark (I know, how did I get to be this old without reading Georgette Heyer before?)
- Richard Bach’s Jonathan Livingstone Seagull (same applies) – our BBC Radio Gloucestershire Book of the Month for July
- the manuscript of Trick or Murder? – just back from my editor, second in the Sophie Sayers Village Mysteries series and due for publication at the end of August – exciting times!
Happy weekend reading, folks!
P.S. Fancy reading one of my books this weekend? Best Murder in Show, a lighthearted modern mystery story, is the perfect summer read, set at the time of a traditional village show. Now available as an ebook for Kindle or in paperback – order from Amazon here or at your local neighbourhood bookshop quoting ISBN 978-1911223139.