Wednesday, January 7, 2015

A Soldier of Substance by D.W. Bradbridge

Rating: ★ ★ ★ ★ ☆
Read: January 4, 2015

1644. The smoke of parliamentary musket, cannon, and mortar fire is in the air around the royalist stronghold of Lathom House. Though guards still stand atop its walls, it is besieged on all sides, and it is only a matter of time until the house, along with its embittered and unwavering countess, Lady Charlotte de Tremouille, falls to Parliament’s might. Yet somehow, a royalist spy still creeps, unseen, through its gates, and brings the countess Parliament’s secrets. Barely recovered from the trials of the last few months, Daniel Cheswis is torn from his family and sent north, to uncover the identity of the traitor; though before he can even begin, Cheswis finds himself embroiled in a murder. A woman has been garrotted with cheese wire in her Chester home, suggesting there is more than just the usual hatreds of war at play. As lives are lost and coats are turned on both sides, Cheswis is tasked with finding the murderer, uncovering the traitor, and surviving his soldierly duty long enough to see Lathom House fall. 

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Artist's visualization of Lathom House prior to it's destruction.
Presented in Peter Draper's book The House of Stanley, published in 1864
I didn't think twice when offered D.W. Bradbridge's A Solider of Substance for review. Book one of the Daniel Cheswis series was one of my favorite books of 2014 and I was very exciting about delving into the follow-up.

Part of what I love about this series is that the stories take place during the English Civil War. I am not English and not well-versed in the event, but I love the details Bradbridge works into the narrative. As someone with no background understanding, I think he does a marvelous job outlining both the large and small scale events of the story and he does it without the boring monologues you often see when writers tackle politics through fiction.

Bradbridge's characters also appeal to me. Daniel is an engaging and relatable protagonist, but even the supporting cast is fleshed out. I personally feel characterization an important atmospheric component for any storyteller and admire Bradbridge for the care he takes in presenting Daniel and peers. I will note, A Soldier of Substance is a very masculine tale so the male to female ratio is a little skewed, but I think that fitting to both the period and context of the murder mystery at the heart of the novel.

Bradbridge's ability to keep the reader guessing is matched stroke for stroke by his convincing portrayal of the era. An intelligently written whodunnit, A Soldier of Substance is one book I will certainly be recommending in the future. 

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On reflection, I was pleased that I would get the opportunity to keep my pledge to the Skinner brothers, but I slept uneasily that night. I realised that my career as an intelligencer was not over. On the contrary. It had only just begun.
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Check Out All the Stops on D.W. Bradbridge's A Soldier of Substance Blog Tour Schedule


Monday, January 5
Spotlight & Giveaway at Passages to the Past
Wednesday, January 7
Review at Flashlight Commentary
Saturday, January 10
Review at With Her Nose Stuck in a Book
Tuesday, January 20
Spotlight at A Literary Vacation
Tuesday, January 27
Review at Forever Ashley
Spotlight at Books and Benches
Tuesday, February 3
Spotlight at CelticLady’s Reviews
Friday, February 6
Guest Post & Giveaway at Historical Fiction Obsession


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