Tuesday, April 28, 2020

Spotlight: The Lost Boys of London by Mary Lawrence

The Lost Boys of London
A Bianca Goddard Mystery
by Mary Lawrence

Red Puddle Print
April 28, 2020
Historical Mystery

While her husband fights the Scots on behalf of King Henry VIII, Bianca Goddard earns her coin by concocting medicines that offer relief to London's sick. Some unfortunates, however, are beyond any remedies she can provide--like the young boy discovered hanging from a church dripstone. Examining the body, Bianca finds a rosary twisted around the child's neck. A week later, another boy is found dead at a different church. When Fisk, an impish acquaintance, goes missing, she fears he may become the third victim...

There are many villains who would prey on wayward, penniless boys. But Bianca suspects the killings are not brutal acts of impulse, but something far more calculated. In her room of Medicinals and Physickes, she examines the sole piece of evidence: a sweet-smelling, dark-stained cloth. If Bianca can unravel its secret, reputations and lives will be saved. But the expected hour of the next murder is approaching, and a single misstep may mean another boy is lost forever...

Praise for The Lost Boys of London:

"Lawrence's London is no fairy-tale setting, but her heroine is as plucky as they come."--Kirkus Reviews

"...a gripping mystery...filled with sharp details"--Foreword Reviews

"Bianca's strength and self-reliance are empowering and gratifying...an exciting and memorable historical whodunit."--Foreword Reviews

"The author has the Tudor language down to a gnat’s eyeball.--Rosepoint Publishing

"At the end of this series, we’re left with not just a superb set of mysteries, but with a clan who feel real to us, and whose futures matter"--Goodreads review

"...is confident and evocative"--Portland Press Herald


The twists and turns of an inconstant king are as serpentine as the lanes and alleys of London’s Castle Baynard ward. At one end squatted massive St. Paul’s Cathedral. Licking the ward’s toes at the other ebbed the greasy, gray Thames. In between were four parishes and enough bread shops to adequately keep the inhabitants’ heads filled with guilt and their stomachs filled with gluten.

     This warren of tightly packed residences, ordinaries, mercers, stationers, chandlers, and cordwainers sat in unremitting penitence near the ominous cathedral, and never was their compunction more intensely felt than during the bleak days of this midwinter. The incremental gain of daylight was not enough to cheer the citizens. They didn’t notice they did not have to light their tallows quite so early, nor did the lengthening days remind them that spring would soon . . . spring. Nay, the winter felt interminable, as did its dark, shivering days.

     For England was at war.

     Harry had lightened his coffers by hiring German and Spanish mercenaries to aid his British soldiers in subjugating the Scots to the north and the French across the sea. He’d spent his money on fortifications along his southern coast and on growing his fleet of warships. Such is the price of hubris.

     Though King Harry grew in girth and petulance, he ignored signs of his diminishing health. His leg wound ulcerated, emitting a foul odor while his physicians scurried about trying different poultice wrappings, even cauterization, in an effort to offer the king some relief. Short of amputation (for who would dare mention, much less attempt it?) little could be done.

     So, Harry continued to plant apple trees in his orchard in Kent and busied himself with the politics of war. And the citizens of London, indeed of the entire realm, continued to labor and abide by the whims of their peevish king.

​      To a boy with two younger siblings and a mother struggling to feed them, a king’s impulsive policies didn’t matter a spit. All he knew was that his father had gone away to fight, and he was the eldest son, and as such he understood he should tend to the welfare of his family.

     While his mother embroidered a stomacher for a lady of wealth’s fine dress and fended off a two-year-old’s attempt to pull the thread, Fisk edged out the door of their tenement off Ivy Lane. He scampered down the dreary side street, threw a stick for a dog in the opposite direction, leapt over a steaming turd almost before it was too late, and headed toward Westcheap  Market.

About the Author:

Mary Lawrence is the author of the Bianca Goddard Mysteries. Set in Tudor London in the final years of Henry VIII's reign, Book I, THE ALCHEMIST'S DAUGHTER, released in April, 2015 and was named by Suspense Magazine a "best historical mystery" in 2015. Book 2, DEATH of an ALCHEMIST released in 2016 and Book 3, DEATH AT ST. VEDAST released in January, 2017. THE ALCHEMIST OF LOST SOULS (May 2019), won a second "Best Of 2019" by Suspense Magazine. THE LOST BOYS OF LONDON releases May 2020.

Mary grew up in Indiana and moved to Maine after completing a degree in cytotechnology. She has worked in hospitals and labs and written indexes for several small publishers. Recently she started a berry farm in southern Maine with her husband. She is an avid reader of historical fiction and nonfiction and concentrates on Tudor/Elizabethan history. Her articles have appeared in several publications most notably, The Daily Beast.

Visit her at www.marylawrencebooks.com or on Twitter: @mel59lawrence.

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