Review: A Rustle of Silk by Alys Clare

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Overall Score8/10

Genre: Historical Fiction, Mystery

Series: Gabriel Taverner Mysteries, Book 1

Publisher: Severn House Publishers

Release Date: January 1, 2017

Source: I received a free copy of this book from the publisher via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review

Book Summary (From GoodReads)

Introducing physician-sleuth Dr Gabriel Taverner in the first of an intriguing series of mysteries set in early 17th century Devon. ”
“1603. “Former ship s surgeon Gabriel Taverner is attempting to re-establish himself as a country physician in rural Devon. But it s not easy to gain the locals trust, and a series of disturbing incidents, increasing in menace and intensity, convinces him that at least one person does not welcome his presence.
Called out to examine a partially decomposed body found beside the river, Gabriel discovers that he has a personal connection to the dead man. Teaming up with Coroner Theophilus Davey to find out how the man died, Gabriel uncovers some darker aspects of the lucrative silk trade which operates from nearby Plymouth. The more he finds out, the more frighteningly apparent it becomes that the people closest to him have been keeping dangerous secrets.

Review

When I first started reading this book, I thought I had started on a very dark, gruesome medical mystery. Imagine my relief when the book did a 180 turn a few chapters in and became an incredibly engrossing character-driven mystery.

Gabriel Taverner has just established a medical practice in small town England after an unfortunate accident put an end to his days as a ships physician. However, somebody in the area has decided that they don’t need the competition of a second medical practitioner. This storyline did become the secondary story (although it did provide some key clues toward the primary mystery) but it really set the scene well for future books in this series. You see how Dr. Taverner interacts with the locals as a doctor, a friend, and a co-physician.

As one of his duties as a local physician, Dr. Taverner is interrupted by the local coroner, who needed a doctor with him to examine a partially decomposed body. The mystery kicks into high gear when Theophilus Davey, the coroner, determines that the missing man is the husband of Dr. Taverner’s sister. The plot slowly builds to its conclusion and the detective work done by both Dr. Taverner and Theopilus is interesting to follow. As the death count mounts and secrets are revealed, the mystery deepens. The ending was unexpected and extremely well-written.

Even the secondary characters are well-written and fully developed in this book. The author has planted the seeds for what will hopefully be a long series as I cannot wait to read more about all of the characters, particularly Celia and Jonathan Carew.

This is a wonderful historical mystery that is truly a blending of the two genres. It’s a brilliant mix of medicine, mystery, and just a touch of the macabre. I will be eagerly awaiting all further installments in this series.

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