BLOG Saturday 21 March

Kirkus Review of Murder at Cirey

In my many years in publishing I was always avid to see what Kirkus Reviews had to say  about an author's new book. It's a thrill therefore to share what Kirkus thinks ofMurder at Cirey. 'Exhilarating'!

'This exhilarating first stab at a murder mystery by veteran historical novelist Sawyer (Rebel, 2014, etc.) rings true.

Primarily set in France during eight days in 1735, the novel centers around military police corps member Victor Constant, who is propelled by a strong sense of justice, which often keeps him from noticing whose toes he steps upon. It's this stunning indifference to France's very strong class structure that earns Parisian Constant an involuntary transfer to the picturesque rural region of Champagne. Constant launches the investigation of the murder of a nobleman's ambitious clerk on a nearby estate. At the estate, he meets, in an inevitably adversarial manner, the playwright Voltaire, opinionated lover of the estate's mistress, Madame du Châtelet. Other members of Constant's Chaumont brigade quickly pick up a penniless outsider as a suitable suspect in the crime ... Constant is soon racing the clock to find the true mastermind behind the heinous deed as he battles provincial attitudes ... Sawyer has created a winning character in the obstinate Constant in what is the first book in a proposed series, and she has surrounded him with memorable characters, both noble and commoner. Her experience as a historical researcher shines through, such as when Constant performs the 18th-century equivalent of a ballistics match ...

A promising start in a new direction featuring a headstrong but street-smart detective.'

Latest Extract
Earths ~ Sophie Szecsodi ~ Australia

The way I'd been taught, I'd had it forced down my throat that we scribes were replaceable, and that the troopers were the best of Third Earth. And I believed it. Because it was true. My parents were given the best of houses, whereas even the best of the scribes lived in borderline horrible conditions.The Master Scribe continued, "But you will both have to prove yourselves."

I breathed out. "In what way?"

"You will have to come up with that yourself. You will also be taking a test. Physics, biology, English skills, mathematics, and a practical examination on ship building. I say, Miss Atlantia, you get to work." And with that, she stalked out of my room, slamming the door with a bang.

The Mentor’s Critique
Earths ~ Sophie Szecsodi

Sophie, I'm even more impressed with Earths than I was with The Wolf on the Road Home, though I realise I'm comparing very different genres. Your writing in this novel is confident and pacy, your characters are skilfully presented and you have a firm grasp of plot. You coax the reader on into the story by setting a series of challenges that range from simple What next? questions such as: Will Atlantia make Third-Earth Fighter status? to the tactical/moral Should Third Earth be invading Mundi?

Earths has all the makings of classic sci-fi because you have located both the personal and military conflict in an area where technology, invention and sophisticated weaponry are all-important -- interplanetary war.

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What can FLM do for you?
In a fresh phase of my long career as both publisher and
published novelist, I turned to writing full-time in 2014. 
And I found that I missed assessing brand-new fiction.
So I set up Free Literary Mentor as a completely free 
manuscript appraisal service to début novelists and 
their readers. During my professional life in books I’ve 
assessed, edited, published and reviewed prize-winning 
fiction and non-fiction, I’ve tutored in literature and novel 
writing, and was fiction publisher for an international company
for twelve years—yet I’ve never lost the excitement of seeing 
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