The Rival Queens – Reviews

The second book in the Countess Ashby de la Zouche mysteries.A 1699 version of bawdy London is splendidly brought to life in Fidelis Morgan’s The Rival Queens, the second rollicking novel to feature the wiles and conniving intrigues of Countess Ashby de la Zouche and her maidservant Alpiew… Restoration comedy and action, artifice, gunpowder and Samuel Pepys: a perfect historical menu of crime and mystery, with the bonus of laughs aplenty – The Guardian

Columbo in a powdered wig… written with considerable verve and wit. – Galway Herald (Ireland)

This is that rara avis; a comedic historical whodunit that manages not to turn silly, lose its way or lack historical verisimilitude. Difficult to achieve convincingly, this book manages it all with style, dash and vigor… A hugely enjoyable read. Miss it at your peril. – Publishers Weekly

In her second bawdy, madcap adventure, the incomparable Anastasia, Lady Ashby de la Zouche, Countess of Clapham, Baroness Penge (and former mistress to Charles II), aided by her faithful maid, Alpiew, faces “a brace of murders, an illicit marriage ceremony, an escape of a prisoner from the Tower, bribery, corruption at the highest level, a burglary and an abduction.” When she doesn’t run fast enough, bailiffs temporarily deposit the Countess in a “sponging house” for debtors. At other times such blackguards as Lord Giles Rakewell and his hooligans, the Tityre-tus gang, harass her. Morgan… brings 1700 London intensely to life, from the filth-ridden Thames to teeming Covent Garden, home to pickpockets, actors and writers… A lot of the fun derives from walk-ons by real people, such as the actor and playwright Colley Cibber, famous in his day for “improving upon the work of a barbarous Elizabethan third-rater named Shakespeare.” Living nearby is an incorrigible old lecher who gives the Countess his memoirs. She figures it may prop a table–surely no one will ever read Samuel Pepys. Restoration England will never be the same after this romp.  Maxim Jakubowski – The Guardian

If you’re up for high energy historical fiction this is the fellow for you… Fast moving and fun. – It magazine (Ireland)

A year ago Fidelis Morgan burst onto the historical crime scene with a remarkably fresh talent… Now her redoubtable protagonists the Countess Anastasia Ashby de la Zouche and her maid Alpiew are back… Short of buying a time machine I can’t think of a better way to explore the late 17th century. Dare I say the words “Hugely Enjoyable” again as I did to the first book, the highest praise I give any novel? Almost, as this really is that sort of book. An author to watch – Crime thru Time

A delicious, rollicking romp of a mystery that kept me enthralled. Fidelis Morgan writes just the sort of story I love, full of sensuous details that make history come alive. I can’t wait to read her next one – Tess Gerritsen

One of the newest and most enjoyable sleuths to step out is like no other… Cagney and Lacey in corsets. They live by their wits and are witty too… Steeped in period detail and wit, it’s a mystery that is as much fun to read as it is to try to solve – Minneapolis Star Tribune

The intricate plot weaves its way through a maze of interesting historical tidbits to keep the reader guessing which motive and opportunity point to the real killer. The characters are so well defined and the scenes so vividly described that readers can almost smell the dank streets of 1700 London. The Rival Queens holds the reader in rapt anticipation as each suspect, convincingly introduced as the murderer, is eliminated one by one until the unlikely culprit is finally unveiled – Curled Up With A Good

What a truly super series this is turning out to be. I very much enjoyed the first, Unnatural Fire, but the second, The Rival Queens, with its camp theatrical background and use of real-life showbiz people, I liked even more…. the three principals are the most fascinating characters; fascinating in that they are all rather repellent, yet, through Morgan’s enormous skill in portraying them, are all so very loveable… truly hilarious… cracking-paced plot… Take my tip and read this book, you’ll miss a great treat if you don’t – Deryn Lake (ShotsMag)