Review: INTO THE FIRE, by Manda Scott, published in hardback by Transworld Books at £14.99

 

ISBN: 978 0 593 07247 9

I have to declare an interest here. Manda is a good friend. We first met as crime writers, and in more recent years we’ve worked together to take her vision of the Historical Writers’ Association and bring it to fruition. She has also generously given me a bunch of time to answer some questions on her writing which you can read here.

However, I have a firm policy on this blog: I will not puff books for no reason (or just because the writer’s a friend). There are plenty of sites where readers can go for such puffery and nonsense, but here on my website I will only review the books I’ve read and liked. Books I don’t like may well appeal to other people, so I won’t slate them.

Manda started out with crime, but achieved massive success with her Boudica series. More recently she has branched out into Roman stories, but this book is a new diversion for her.

So, what is this book about?

Many authors have tried to write contemporary fiction while also looking at historical events. To write in the two periods can be exciting, but it can also lead to a disjointed, disfunctional story. I’m glad to say this isn’t.

Taking the story of Joan of Arc, Manda has woven about it a tense psychological thriller set in modern day France. There have been a series of arson attacks. The leading investigator, Capitaine Inès Picault, has been given the task of hunting down the arsonist, a hunt that grows more urgent with the latest fire; a man’s corpse has been discovered in the ashes. And the only clue is the name of Saint Joan.

However, to tell the story of Joan we are taken back to the Hundred Years War and the English army at Orléans. The Maid is laying siege to Orléans, bringing dishonour and shame to the English when she succeeds. However, she doesn’t know that Tomas Rustbeard is actually an English agent. Tomas has sworn to expose her as a liar, to kill her reputation as much as her body.

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The tension of the police investigation is maintained, and the taut battle-writing is deeply satisfying. Manda has thrown into this all her skills as one of the top novelists writing in English today. Her characters are all so precisely defined, I feel I could recognise them in the street. They are consistent and believable. When she writes about my own period of medieval history, there is a sympathy and compassion for the soldiery that is rare in any novel. And her research has been very thorough! Whether she is writing from the point of view of a weary policeman who resents his female boss, a smooth politician who suffers from lack of confidence, or a murderous double agent in the pay of the Duke of Bedford in the 1400s, all are equally set out.

All in all, this book is a must-read for anyone who likes crime or historical fiction.

I can very happily recommend this book!

NOTE: for today, Saturday 27th June, there is one free, signed copy of the book for one lucky reader. A name will be picked at random from twitter. All you have to do to win is retweet my tweet. You can even copy and paste from below. Couldn’t be easier, could it? So do please RT and have a chance of your own free copy of this excellent book!

TWEET: Today only: my review  #INTOTHEFIRE by excellent #MandaScott, @hare_woodhttp://wp.me/p1u0dV-o1 1 signed copy if you RT this! @LilyCapewell

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Comments
3 Responses to “Review: INTO THE FIRE, by Manda Scott, published in hardback by Transworld Books at £14.99”
  1. Jack Eason says:

    Reblogged this on Have We Had Help? and commented:
    Michael’s review of Manda Scott’s Into The Fire

    Like

  2. I really enjoyed the book too, although I did find myself eagerly awaiting the next chapter re The Maid and not so much the 2014 chapters. I’m not really a fan of split time lines as I like to lose myself in the history bits, and kind of resent being chucked back into the present :), but well crafted writing and characters all through.

    Like

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