Troubador Murder in St Paul's

Released: 28/07/2019

ISBN: 9781838590451

eISBN: 9781838599546

Format: Paperback/eBook

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Murder in St Paul's

Justice and Vengeance in Tudor London


In 1514 a respected London Merchant, Richard Hunne, was found hanging in Old St Paul’s Cathedral. Whether it was murder or suicide was hotly debated but popular opinion, endorsed more recently by many historians, pointed to foul play by church officials. Around this central mystery, Dale has woven a story of murder, church politics and forbidden texts in turbulent pre-Reformation London. 

Hunne’s widow, Anne, takes centre stage in this narrative as she attempts to solve and avenge the death of her husband. Her search for the truth will take her to Germany and Martin Luther’s revolt against the authority of the church, and up against powerful figures such as the English Lord Chancellor, Thomas More. She becomes involved in the new illicit trade of printing religious texts, and will suffer both imprisonment and the danger of execution. She is helped by her lover, a German Hansa merchant, and through her adventures she will move closer to, and finally solve, the brutal killing of her husband - a crime that has baffled historians ever since the body was first found hanging in St Paul’s.

It was great to read a book about the Reformation that doesn't focus on Henry VIII but on the lower classes, as way before Henry split with Rome many people in England and Europe were becoming resentful of the clergy's wealth and greed. I had not heard of Richard Hunne or the stand that he had made against the church, at a time when going against the church could result in your execution. There are many brave men and women in this story who risked their lives just to have the ability to read the Bible in the vernacular, something that is taken for granted today.

I really felt a sense of Tudor times within the book as the author's descriptions were very detailed, a lot of time and research has clearly gone into this.

I was worried that the book would be a little dry but I found it rattled along quickly and I was cheering Anne along all the way, the style put me in mind of Ken Follett in places! To get the most out of the book it might be best if you have some knowledge of the Reformation but then you wouldn't be reading this book if you weren't interested in this period!

by Emily

I've not read this author before but historical fiction is my thing and the Tudor period in particular so was in heaven being able to read an advanced copy of this

Richard Dale has taken a different tract here. Normally, in these types of novel, the author sticks to Henry VIII et al, but this focuses on lower classes in society which was a refreshing change.

Well written, well researched - if you are interested in the Tudor period, as I am, you will absolutely love this !!

Fantastic read

by Maria

Murder in St. Paul's by Richard Dale is a well written and well researched historical novel set in the Tudor period. I found the story engaging and loved seeing a woman as central character. I highly recommend this novel to historical fiction fans and hope to read more by this author. Thanks to Net Galley and Troubador Publishing for allowing me to read it in exchange for an honest review.

by Carol

When I first became aware of the Richard Hunne affair I wondered why such a dynamic and dramatic story had not made its way into novels or cinema earlier. Maybe it had but I could not find any evidence.Richard certainly did not keep a low profile during dangerous times and was spoiling for a fight which he certainly got.The book curtails the legal process (what happened to the tenement case?) but in the interests of a fast-moving story

by Brian

The historical fiction that I like best is historical fiction that takes a known event in the past and puts a believable and engaging story around it. And I especially like historical fiction when the author provides a bit at the back (or front, or somewhere) that tells which bits are known/accepted history, and which bits are the author’s speculation. I also like when I can learn something about a period without feeling as if I am reading a textbook. And, I’m a big fan of murder mysteries, so I’m happy when the “event” is a murder, or at least a suspected murder. Murder in St Paul’s meets all of my criteria for historical fiction, and I enjoyed it very much.

Often historical fiction relies on the use of a minor (or even made-up) character to tell the story – I suspect this can give the author a bit more leeway in telling their tale without contradicting what is known. In this case, the author, Richard Dale, has told the story of Richard Hunne through the eyes of Hunne’s wife, Anne. Anne is herself a historical figure, but as Dale indicates in his note at the end, she and her family are mentioned only briefly in historical records.

I especially enjoyed this book because I didn’t know much about this time period as seen from the viewpoint of “the common people”. And, although it’s fun to imagine that one is someone famous like Henry VIII, with wealth and power, I find I really do enjoy it more when the characters are a bit more like me, not necessarily at the top of society.

Per the publisher’s blurb, Richard Dale is a retired professor and a member of the Royal Historical Society, and this is the author’s first try at fiction. I think it was a success, and I’ll be looking for more titles from this author.

by Susan Fuhs

This story is set at a time of great change. A time of Henry VIII and the church’s wealth and misuse of power been questioned by the people. Richard Hunne was a Lollard who believed they should be able to read the bible in English and to do away with all the indulgences of the church. Richard fell foul of the church in refusing to hand over his child’s christening robe to the church upon his death. He has been accused of heresy and dies in the tower of St Paul’s. Was it suicide like the church said or murder. Anne his wife spends her life on revenge against those responsible and making sure his work carries on.

This story is based on true life events but is an intriguing look at the background of the Hunne family and the part they played in the great change of the time.

by Charlotte

An historical event that occurred in the 1500's is brought to life by the author whom weaves a story around this event and brings it to life. Brilliantly researched and written this novel is a must do for historical fiction fans.

by Leah

I received a free advance copy of this book from NetGalley in return for an honest review. Let me say that this book grabbed my attention from Page 1. The book covers the religious trials of the Non-Catholic believers who live in London from 1511 through 1537. Very well done historical fiction with characters and plot drawn from real life people. We have a man burned at the stake for heresy and his wife vows retribution for his death. From there we are treated to a great story of life in that period, the spread of non-Catholic approved Bibles, the battle between the Church and King Henry VIII and on and on it goes, until the very end when enlightenment shines through for both a character in the book, as well as for all of us. We are treated to actual events and historical figures such as Henry VIII, Cardinal Wolsey, Thomas More, Martin Luther, the Council of Worms , the book burning in London and on and on it goes. Not a religious book, but rather a great book that takes us through those tumultuous years leading up to the banishment of the Catholic church in England. Well researched and written. A well-deserved 5***** rating for this book!

by Blaine

I adore historical crime fiction and this fitted the bill perfectly. The book blended fact and fiction amazingly well, just as I was beginning to think I was reading a non fiction book a sentence changed it to fiction effortlessly. I can honestly say I have never read a book with this type of set up before. I have researched the author and he is obviously passionate about this chain of events in this time frame and this shows in the writing of this book. As others have said most books in the Tudor period centre around the King of Queen of the day and this was refreshingly different. I would heartily recommend this book to all.

by Alison

Murder in St. Paul's by Richard Dale is a well written and well researched historical novel. It's a fast paced book, that will keep you guessing to the very end. I highly recommend this book to any historical fiction fan.

by Tomas

This is a thoroughly researched historical covering the turbulent times of the early 1500's when it was not safe to admit to having read the Wycliffe bible. Spiritual questioning of the powers of the church put the English populace in danger of being tried for heresy. One such victim was the husband of Anne, the main character of this book.

The author gives us a detailed account of how one woman might have taken up the cause of her husband after he was murdered by church sanction. She does not question her need and her right to carry on the work of getting the scripture transcribed into English.

She meets a German outside her door who has been beaten by street people acting against foreigners and invites him in for protection. As they become acquainted he shares with her how Luther is influencing church matters in Germany.

I don't want to spoil the story for others, but they end up getting married secretly (don't know why the publisher calls him her "lover") and she travels with him to Germany dressed as a male assistant, allowing her to be in public to hear Luther speak.

It is a thoughtfully constructed novel that provides a great deal of information on the Reformation and the trials believers went through during major changes.

by Kathleen

This is based on the real events of Richard Hunne's death in Lollards Tower. Many of the characters and events are real such as Cardinal Wolsey's burning of heretical books.

Henry VIII is on the throne and Richard Hunne is arrested for heresy. His wife Anne vows to avenge his death after he is found hanging in St Paul's Cathedral, whilst evidence emerges that he was murdered.

Her journey sees her secretly married to Hansa merchant who shares her beliefs and travelling to Germany where she meets with Martin Luther who is causing unease for the church.

Officials of the church are implicated in his death and Anne spends her life trying to increase reformist beliefs in London, putting herself in danger of being arrested herself.

This is such an interesting insight in to the events of the reform of the church and the threats and treatment faced by those with reformist beliefs. It is well researched and provides an explanation of the the history at the end of the book.

by Amy M

I enjoyed reading this book and found it a good story. I enjoyed the characters and the setting especially the historical aspect of it. The mystery was interesting and the plot easy to follow I recommend to all mystery lovers.

by Shelly

This is definitely what I can a 'twofer' ie. two for one, a cracking read and some historical fact along the way. The story of Richard Hunne was interesting enough but then add to that the Hanseatic League, the bible in English and Martin Luther. Really clever piece of work.

The characters are well fleshed out, interesting and attractive, the detail of London in the 16th century felt just right.

From a literary perspective the writing is not of the quality of Wolf Hall but it takes and makes interesting a small part of history that is often underplayed.

Loved the use of the female heroine and whilst the trip to Germany and meeting Luther strained credulity it certainly added tot he pace and the atmosphere.

I'd definitely read another of his fiction books, particularly if he carries on melding fact and fiction at this level.

by Belinda

Being someone who loves to read Historical fiction, especially ones that take place in a Tudor England, this book is right up my street.

Before I crack on with my thoughts, I just wanted to say that I really enjoyed the 'historical note' and liked the fact that the leading characters are based upon real historical figures.

The story starts with a man and his daughter looking onto a scene where they are preparing for an execution by fire, the scene was set with well and the grisly scene explained to the reader in detail, not overly, i hasten to add.,The victims branded and forced to wear faggots on thier backs ( which is a bundle of sticks) and the last punishment was that a member of their family were forced to set to pyre alight.
The man with his daughter described it as

" infernal scene from hell"

One of the victims of this now named 'Matyrs of Amersham' Willaim Tylesworth was indeed murdered at the stake just how it is explained in this first part of the book and just for being Protestant.

Essentially this book is a Murder mystery, even though the beginning seemed heavy on the religious politics.
The narrator of the story is Anne Hunne, the wife of Richard Hunne who died in Lollards Tower,Henry VIII is on the throne and Richard is arrested for heresy,Anne is determined to avenge his death. He is found hanging in St Paul's Cathedral ( hence the title) and as she gathers information evidence emerges that he was murdered.

This as I have mentioned before, is all based on fact and you can tell this, by the way in which it reads, lots of research and love for this era is evident and that just made , for me, even better.

This pre reformation book is so much more than I have described today and well worth a read, I love books that make me want to know more into the real people that were the inspiration behind this book.

by Julie

This is a really fascinating book, that brings to life a dangerous time in history. The story of Richard Hunne is both tragic but almost comic. Trying and then executing an already-dead person really does border on the ridiculous.
The author must have done a tremendous amount of research to bring this period to life. There is so much detail in every scene, but it’s never overwhelming. We get a strong sense of life in the sixteenth century – clothes, language, food, attitudes, politics, religious turmoil… everything.
The story is wonderfully written, and is gripping from the start. The characters emerge gradually and it’s rewarding to see them develop as the novel progresses. Anne Hunne, our heroine, is an intriguing woman. She’s strong, principled, determined, and needs to be given the terrible events that befall her family. She’s someone you won’t forget in a hurry.
All in all, this is a remarkably powerful and accomplished book, a real pleasure to read, although not always easy given the intolerant events it portrays viewed from our more enlightened times.

by Stephanie

I really enjoyed this book a lot. The characters were clever and engaging, and getting to spend time with them was a treat. I liked the writing too - it was descriptive without ever veering into flowery territory, and I would certainly be interested in reading more work by this author. The cover is great too!

by NetGalley review

I expected to go reading and reviewing a murder mystery when I picked this book. However it turned out to be a dramatised history book.

Early 16th century England: the churches are all powerful and the clergy rules like princes or maffioso. Within the religious circles but also among the commoners an interest has grown to return back to the Bible as a source of Christianity and to study it in the common language and recognising only 2sacraments instead of 6. The church regards that as heresy and people are even burned at the stake. When a wealthy London merchant takes the church to court he is declared a heretic and found dead in his cell. His widow wants to find out what happens.

Yes it still sounds like a murder mystery does is not. But the novel focusses on all the people involved in the case and many outsiders with a link to the Reformation. Even for someone like me with a Protestant upbringing and a love for history the first half was quite hard to get through. But it does give an interesting and very detailed view of living in London in those days and is filled with all kind of facts. Did you know that Sinterklaas as celebrated in Holland with straw laid out for his horse in front of the chimney is in fact Wodan / Odin on his horse Sleipnir?

The second half was a lot better and is more focussed on the widow. So in the end you do some murder mystery at last.

What is a real plus of this book is that it gives you an idea of how this tumultuous period was for people living in it. First the Lollards who wanted to read an English bible and were persecuted for it, Then the influence of Luther and then Henry XIII declaring England free from Rome and abolishing priesthood.

What reminded me of my own mother was the reflection at the end of the widow that Jesus declared that his father had many rooms in heaven and that she had to admit that there were also Catholic bishops going to heaven. just like Protestant martyrs.

by NetGalley review

I was not sure about this book....I don’t usually read books set in this time frame but the writing was so rich and powerful; I was completely drawn into the murder of Richard Hunne.

This novel takes place in a time when life was driven by beliefs and those who disagreed with the Church were dealt with harshly. People did not know who to trust and whether the charges against you were true or false lives were ruined.

Richard Hunne was found hanging in his cell but there are immediate questions as to whether this was a suicide or murder. The coroner went to great pains with his investigation and that was fascinating.

The remainder of the story is about Richard’s widow and her desire to learn all the facts that lead to her husband’s death.

I found this book to be entrancing and beautifully written as well as meticulously researched.

by NetGalley review

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