Book Review: A Ruinous Wind (Thomas the Falconer Mystery Series, Book 2) by John Pilkington

Genre: Historical fiction Publisher: Sharpe Books Pub date: 21 November 2019 Rating: 🌟🌟🌟🌟🌟

The falconer is on the hunt once more.

Thomas Finbow, a widowed father, is falconer to Sir Robert Vicary of Petbury, a Berkshire knight who aspires to increase his status and influence. When invited to attend the Barrowhill Pleasures at the seat of the extravagant and pompous Earl of Reigate, Sir Robert brings Thomas along with him to enjoy the festivities.

But no-one expected three of the Earl’s guests to be murdered, or for their deaths to be quickly covered up by the Earl himself. To maintain morale among his visitors, the Earl plans to host a dramatic re-enactment of the Spanish Armada, with the promise of Queen Elizabeth attending the spectacle.

But things begin to unravel when the Earl himself becomes the next target of the murderer.

Sir Robert, eager to find the truth and protect himself, asks keen-eyed Thomas to uncover the mystery and track down the killer – before it’s too late.

Having recently read the first book in the series, The Ruffler’s Child, I couldn’t wait to get started on the next book. This time Thomas finds himself journeying with Sir Robert to Barrowhill for hawking and entertainment. It’s not long before things begin to happen and once again Thomas finds himself attempting to solve a murder before he or his master can become victims themselves.

As with the first book there’s some fabulous characters in this instalment from Will Holland, a fellow falconer, Filbert, the Earl’s fool, who provides amusement throughout and Lady Felice, the Countess who I found to be formidable and complex character and lastly Jaggard, an old soldier who became a favourite of mine for his character and interaction with Thomas. Of course I cannot fail to mention Thomas himself and Sir Robert who becomes a much more prominent and likeable character in this book as he himself becomes eager to investigate the murder and find out the truth of what is happening at Barrowhill.

Whereupon the fool sprang up, dusted off his hands, stuck out his rear and broke wind. The effect was instantaneous: a loud roar of laughter that shattered the tension at once, followed by wild applause and shouts of approval.

Although a large part of the story is based on fiction there are elements of history such as the defeat of the Spanish Armada, the death of Robert Dudley resulting in much grief for Queen Elizabeth and of course the politics around religion at the time.

The first in the series is largely based in London whereas this is largely based in the country providing beautiful descriptions of the surroundings and the magnificent home Thomas visits. Pilkington also encompasses the frivolities of court entertainments, showing the magnitude of work and planning that went in to these events during the era.

In this smaller chamber, which opened off a long gallery lined with pictures, wall hangings were suspended from floor to ceiling, depicting scenes from the history of the ancients.

I found myself pulled into this story from the beginning, it is full of intrigue and kept me guessing all the way through but I was wrong in all my guesses at who the culprit was! Pilkington has a way of making you think you know what’s about to happen only for the story to take a turn in a direction I wasn’t expecting.

For me, this book is better than the first, not due to any faults with the first but because I’ve gotten to know some of the characters and enjoy their interactions and development. This is one of those books that once you start you can’t stop, well that’s how it was for me anyway. I didn’t want to put it down until I knew who the murderer was.

As a series I can’t wait to continue with it and will be reading the third, The Ramage Hawk very soon!

A Ruinous Wind is available here: Amazon UK

Disclaimer: As an Amazon Associate I earn from qualifying purchases


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