Book Review

Rags of Time

Rags of Time

A Thomas Tallant Mystery #1

Michael Ward

Burnaby Press, July 2019

364 pages

Historical mystery

Provided by Author


The cover is interesting and eye-catching all at the same time. The yellow and blue are heraldic colors that catch the eye easily. The use of the puzzle-shaping is related to the mystery as well as putting you in the mind frame of crowns, royalty, conspiracy. The ravens, of course, put you in mind of the English royal house and the Tower of London. The old London bridge with all its buildings, so close and overburdened. The rivers of blue are references to the Thames with its steady commerce of ships and more conspiracy. Perfect for this book of the 17th century, a period we don’t find often in our books. This book is jam-packed with interesting tidbits of the time.

The first thing in the book is a wonderful map of the whole area where the story unfolds. Unfortunately, I read this in pdf format, so referring to the map as I read it was not realistic. But having been to London several years ago, I have a mental picture of the old London from the tourist maps as well as the map in the book. And the story goes all over the area. This is a very active book with lots of intrigue and interesting historical tidbits as well as good characters, an excellently written mystery, and well-drawn scenery so that you could see what was happening. The crowded streets of old London actually came alive for you as the plot plays out.

The opening scene in the book is the unusual murder of a wealthy merchant. On nonexistent evidence, Tom is accused of the murder and the nastiest of magistrates, Nathaniel Franklin, is hot on his trail. Hunted by Franklin day and night, Tom is helped by a close friend and a woman he has only just met, Elizabeth Seymour. Miss Seymour is brilliant and interested in astronomy and mathematics as well as addicted to the gaming tables. These relationships are well-done and make for great reading. The three have to get quite creative in meeting without being discovered and keeping Tom from getting caught by Franklin. Some of their meeting places and Tom’s hiding places are unexpected to say the least. Some of the things Tom has to do to stay at liberty is unfortunate as well. We must remember that this is a much more primitive time in history, more brutal and innocence is cheap. Most people of the upper class carried some type of weapon with them, even if it was only as small as an eating knife. Even a lot of men of the lower classes would have access to some sort of weapon. There’s no lack of blood and brutality in this one.

I mentioned in my “first thoughts” in GoodReads about tightening up the book to create a bit more tension and shorten it a bit and I still feel that would help, though after reading others’ reviews I seem to be alone in that. Well, we’ll see how things go with the next installment of the Tom Tallant Mysteries. I highly recommend this first book to anyone who enjoys mysteries set in historical times.

Note: “Rags of time” is a figure of speech meaning that such things are passing and immaterial. “Love, all alike, no season knows nor clime, Nor hours, days, months, what are the rags of time”..John Donne Perhaps the author will leave us a note to tell us how he chose this for the title of this book…and when we may expect the next Tom Tallant mystery.

2 thoughts on “Rags of Time

  1. Hi Judi

    Rags of Time came to me as a title while researching the book. The many incidents, practices, beliefs, events, plans, hopes and fears that I discovered from that period provided me with much of the raw material I needed to tell my story. When it came to writing the book, I had a strong sense of stitching together many of these fragments to create a narrative and, of course, rags and patchworks came to mind.

    From there it was a short step to John Donne whose poetry I like (and was appropriate for the period), remembering his wonderful phrase ‘Rags of Time’. I realised it was a perfect description of all the fragments of past lives that I had gathered and worked into something new. It’s a different take on the meaning I think Donne intended, but it felt right for me and my first Historical Fiction book. Then it was just a matter of making the mutual love of Donne one of the factors that brought Tom and Elizabeth together, and the deed was done!

    As for a sequel, I’m working on it at the moment and hope it will be published later this year.

    Many thanks for your detailed and positive review. Much appreciated.


    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks so much, Mike for sharing your thoughts here with my readers. It’s things like this that give readers extra insight into authors and their books. I’m definitely looking forward to the next one!


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