Thursday, November 13, 2008

Friday's Forgotten Books: P.F. Chisholm

If you're looking for something good to read and you want to venture away from best sellers, Patti Abbott's series, Friday's Forgotten Books is a wonderful place to find some gems. Head on over to her blog now!

This week I'd like to spotlight an historical mystery series that has flown below most people's radar: P.F. Chisholm's Sir Robert Carey books. Patricia Finney fell in love with the real life Sir Robert, a courtier at Queen Elizabeth's court and decided to center a series of mysteries around him, written under the nom de plume of Chisholm. The mysteries take place on the border between England and Scotland in the town of Carlisle at the end of the sixteenth century. The Borders at that time were well known to be hot spots of lawlessness. I know this myself because I had ancestors on the Borders. I think any time they wanted a new horse, some sheep, a few head of cattle or a bride, they just saddled up, rode off, and went "shopping".

Finney brings this period to life, not only with the setting and her own brand of social commentary, but with brilliant characterizations. Sir Robert Carey is at the head of the line, but many minor characters sparkle, too. Setting, action, mystery, characters--all this and humor that can have you laughing out loud.

Chisholm's books are published by the Poisoned Pen Press here in Scottsdale, Arizona. There are four books in the series so far. I've been saving my copy of A Plague of Angels like it's my last dollar, but in researching this article, I discovered that a fifth book is in the works. It won't be long now before I'm savoring that fourth series book!

The books in the Sir Robert Carey series are:

A Famine of Horses:
In the year 1592, Sir Robert Carey, a handsome courtier, comes north to Carlisle to take up his new post as Deputy Warden of the West March. He has wangled his appointment to be nearer his true love, a married woman, and farther from the still eye of his Queen and the disapproving eye of his father. And of course, there's the money....Sir Robert is quick to realize he won't see a profit from the perks if he fails to keep the peace. Alas, he is quickly challenged by the murder of a local lad, the possible betrayal of a disappointed rival, the ire of the as-yet-unbetrayed husband, and the question of the horses--hundreds of horses being stolen from all over the lands lying between England and Scotland.

A Surfeit of Guns:
One black night in 1592, Carey is on night patrol along the unsettled border anchored by the garrison in Carlisle. It's a disaster. First, there's the fugitive he has to hand over to the warring Scots. Next come Wee Colin Elliot's sheep stealers. And then a gun explodes and takes off the hand of one of Carey's men. Back in Carlisle, Carey soon learns more faulty guns lie in the armoury in place of the sound weapons shipped in from Newcastle only last week. When these explosive deathtraps are stolen, he sets off in pursuit of both batches of guns--and the thieves.

A Season of Knives:
The rowdy Grahams plan to kidnap Elizabeth as she journeys home to her husband. While Sir Robert storms out to stop them, someone murders the man he has just sacked from his post of paymaster to the Carlisle garrison. When Sir Robert returns, he finds his servant Barnabus slung into the castle dungeon, accused of the crime, and his arch enemy Sir Richard Lowther scheming to have Carey arrested for masterminding the murder....

A Plague of Angels:
Carey is on difficult terms with his powerful sire, Henry, Lord Hunsdon. Hunsdon, son of Anne Boleyn’s elder sister, Mary—and probably of a young King Henry VIII—swings a lot of weight as “cousin” to Queen Elizabeth. But Hunsdon needs his ingenious younger son, Carey to sort out the difficulties his elder son has got himself into as an innocent party in a plot to discredit the family.


  1. I don't read a lot of historical. But historical PLUS mystery? Now that sounds interesting.

  2. They are interesting, Barrie. I hope you give them a try!


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