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Monday, January 13, 2014

An Air of Treason by P. F. Chisholm

I was interested in  An Air of Treason:  A Sir Robert Carey Mystery  because of a long fascination with Amy Robsart and the mystery behind her death.  Who is responsible for this fascination?  Sir Walter Scott and his novel Kenilworth which I read as a teenager.    

 Much has been written, in fact and fiction, about Amy and whether her death was an unfortunate accident or murder.  If murder, was her husband Robert Dudley involved?  Was Queen Elizabeth, who adored Dudley, responsible?       

Chisolm presents a new theory and has done a lot of research to make the theory plausible.  While the truth will never be known, the circumstances give rise to plenty of speculation, and Chisolm has used many primary documents to develop his plot.

I have not read the previous novels in this series, but I did enjoy this one.  Sir Robert Carey is a protagonist with flaws; he is often humorously egotistical, but is essentially a good man with a talent for solving mysteries.  

Robert Carey is the son of Elizabeth's half brother, Lord Hunsdon.  Hunsdon was the son of Mary Boleyn, and many believe, the illegitimate son of Henry VIII.   Carey is, therefore, both Elizabeth's nephew and second cousin.  

When Elizabeth orders him to investigate the death of Amy Robsart Dudley, Carey knows that the investigation of a thirty-year-old death will be dangerous for him.  The possibility that Elizabeth herself may have been involved concerns him.

The story line of Carey's man, Sergeant Henry Dobson is equally interesting.  Dobson provides plenty of action on his own.

I enjoyed the mystery and the researching on line for some of what is documented about Amy's death and the consequences thereof.  

My main complaint is that Chisholm refers to Scots as Scotch.  I've always heard that the preferred choice is either Scots or Scottish.  However, Scotch is an archaic term, and although I found it jarring, I guess it is appropriate.

Amusing, but crude, definition from Urban Dictionary:

Most definitely does not mean 'Scottish' when describing people. It is often used to describe liquor, eggs and beef among other things. 

Those who call Scottish people 'Scotch' are often corrected with a polite saying-so, or a "F__ off, you stupid American bastard!", depending on how much Scotch the Scottish person has recently imbibed.
Stereotypical American - "Hey you're Scotch! Isn't Scotland in England?" 

Drunken Scot - "F__  off, you stupid American bastard!"

Any hoo, a good historic mystery with interesting characters and an engrossing plot.  There are six previous books in this series that I may be looking up soon.

Read in Nov., 2013.  Review scheduled for Jan., 2014.

NetGalley/Poisoned Pen Press

Historic Mystery.  Feb. 4, 2014.  Print version:  250 pages.


  1. I think I'd be taken aback if I say Scot/Scottish written as Scotch. But I guess if it's fitting the time period . . .

    This does sound good. I'm not familiar with the author's work or the mystery of Amy Robsart's death, but I still think this might be a book I really enjoy.

  2. Wendy - This was a good historical mystery. I hope I can get around to reading some more by this author. :)

  3. Those Urban Dictionary entries are a hoot!
    I'm not familiar with Amy Robsart either but this does sound like a good historical mystery.

  4. Iliana - :) I agree about Urban Dictionaries--funny and no-holds-barred!

    Whether or not Amy was murdered has always fascinated me. I liked seeing a new take on the mystery.