A Novel Disguise (A Lady Librarian Mystery)
by Samantha Larsen
About A Novel Disguise
A Novel Disguise (A Lady Librarian Mystery)
Historical Cozy Mystery
1st in Series
Setting – Imaginary English village, 1784
Crooked Lane Books (May 16, 2023)
Paperback : 320 pages
ISBN-10 : 1639103465
ISBN-13 : 978-1639103461
Digital ASIN : B0B9WJ8FFT
When Miss Tiffany Woodall assumes the identity of her half-brother after his death, she realizes she isn’t the only one with a secret to hide in this historical series debut, perfect for fans of Deanna Raybourn and Sherry Thomas.
1784 London.Miss Tiffany Woodall didn’t murder her half-brother, but she did bury him in the back garden so that she could keep her cottage. Now, the confirmed spinster has to pretend to be Uriah and fulfill his duties as the Duke of Beaufort’s librarian while searching Astwell Palace for Uriah’s missing diamond pin, the only thing of value they own. Her ruse is almost up when she is discovered by Mr. Samir Lathrop, the local bookseller, who tries to save her from drowning while she’s actually just washing up in a lake after burying her brother.
Her plan is going by the book, until the rector proposes marriage and she starts to develop feelings for Mr. Lathrop. But when her childhood friend, Tess, comes to visit, Tiffany quickly realizes her secret isn’t the only one hidden within these walls. The body of a servant is found, along with a collection of stolen items, and someone else grows mysteriously ill. Can Tiffany solve these mysteries without her own disguise being discovered? If not, she’ll lose her cottage and possibly her life.
10 Facts About Crime in 1784 England That Are to Die For—Literally
By Samantha Hastings
- There were over 200 hanging offenses.
In 1800, Jane Austen’s aunt, Mrs. Jane Leigh Perrot, was accused of shoplifting lace and could have been sentenced to death if she’d been found guilty. After a six-hour trial, Mrs. Perrot was found innocent. Stealing something worth more than five shillings from a shop was a hanging offense. Other offenses included: impersonating an army veteran, sodomy, sheep stealing, murder, damaging Westminster Bridge, and many more.
- Trials only lasted one day.
The first criminal trial to last longer than one day was in 1792. Until 1848, the suspect was assumed to be guilty and the police magistrate’s job was to prove it with evidence and witness testimony. They did not look for proof of the suspect’s possible innocence and neighbors were encouraged to ‘inform’ on each other. If the person was found guilty, the informer could collect a part the fines.
- Executions happened within two days of conviction.
In 1784 England, you’d better pray that the local jury got their verdict right and that the judge sentenced you correctly, because justice was swift and death swifter. Both men and women were hung. However, the judges and juries were always men. Women had very few rights under the law. Before the age of one and twenty, women were assumed to be their father’s property. If a daughter’s purse was stolen, the father was the victim of the crime. The What-not, or Ladies Handbook of 1859 explains that all a woman “has or expects to have becomes virtually the property of the man she has accepted as husband.”
- You could wait months for your trial in the country.
In London, trials and sentencing happened quickly, but in the country, a prisoner could wait for almost a year for an assizes judge to arrive in the county for the trial. That’s a long time to be in the local jail and there was no remuneration in the unlikely event you were found to be innocent.
- Aristocrats could be sentenced to death.
Peers definitely had more legal privileges than the common man; and women even fewer. However, if an aristocrat was found guilty of murder, they could be hung. Duels among gentlemen of quality (the aristocratic class) were usually not considered murder until the 1840s; after then, you would have to travel to the continent to duel.
- You couldn’t testify at your own trial.
At trials, the accused was not allowed to speak in their own defense until 1898. Daniel Pool explains in What Jane Austen Ate and Charles Dicken’s Knew that the accused could not see ‘the written record of evidence” against themselves until 1839. Not even your lawyer in a felony case was permitted to give a speech to the jury, nor to cross-examine witnesses.
- Executions were considered entertainment.
A hanging could draw crowds of thousands. The executions of a husband and wife, who were murderers, drew over thirty thousand people in 1849. Public executions did not end until 1868. In A Novel Disguise, the scaffold is built in the main square and most of the village turns up to see the trial and the subsequent hangings.
- You were punished after your death.
Following the execution, the criminal’s body was either given to a surgeon to dissect, or hung in chains in a gibbet, usually at a cross roads. A gibbet was an iron cage to hold the decaying body. This was the practice until 1832. One of the reasons behind this macabre practice was that showing the skeleton of a criminal was thought to deter others from committing crimes.
- There was no formal police force in small towns.
In 1750, John and Henry Fielding founded the Bow Street Runners in London, but they were more private detectives than a formal police force. There was “the watch” that had existed since Charles II’s reign (1660-1685). They shouted the time and the weather. The watch also patrolled the streets with a noise-making clacker, cutlass, truncheon, and lantern.
- Country constables weren’t paid.
In the country, the constable was chosen yearly by the local justice of the peace, like Mr. Samir Lathrop in A Novel Disguise. It was not a paid position. The constable’s duties were to keep the peace and apprehend wrong-doers. They typically had another job or profession. Mr. Lathrop owns a bookshop. In 1829, London began having full-time and salaried constables; and not until 1856 for the countryside. The original police force was located at Scotland Yard and had over 3,000 men who wore tall stiff hats that could be used to stand on to peer over fences. A very useful feature!
Enjoy a 18th century murder trial with an assizes judge and a local jury of twelve men in A Novel Disguise by Samantha Larsen.
About Samantha Larsen
Samantha Hastings met her husband in a turkey sandwich line. They live in Salt Lake City, Utah, where she spends most of her time reading, eating popcorn, having tea parties, and chasing her four kids. She has degrees from Brigham Young University, the University of North Texas, and the University of Reading (UK). She’s the author of: The Last Word, The Invention of Sophie Carter, A Royal Christmas Quandary, The Girl with the Golden Eyes, Jane Austen Trivia, The Duchess Contract, Secret of the Sonnets, The Marquess and the Runaway Lady, and A Novel Disguise. She also writes cozy murder mysteries under Samantha Larsen.
Library Thing https://www.librarything.com/profile/Samantha-Larsen
Purchase Links – Amazon – B&N – Books A Million – Powells Books – IndieBound – Bookshop.org
May 9 – I’m Into Books – AUTHOR GUEST POST
May 9 – Maureen’s Musings – SPOTLIGHT
May 10 – The Mystery of Writing – CHARACTER GUEST POST
May 10 – Socrates Book Reviews – SPOTLIGHT
May 11 – Reading Is My SuperPower – REVIEW
May 11 – fundinmental – SPOTLIGHT
May 12 – Literary Gold – AUTHOR INTERVIEW
May 12 – Sapphyria’s Book Reviews – SPOTLIGHT
May 13 – Ruff Drafts – AUTHOR GUEST POST
May 13 – Escape With Dollycas Into A Good Book – SPOTLIGHT
May 14 – Cozy Up With Kathy – REVIEW, AUTHOR INTERVIEW
May 15 – Celticlady’s Reviews – SPOTLIGHT
May 16 – Baroness Book Trove – SPOTLIGHT
May 16 – Carstairs Considers – REVIEW
May 17 – Christy’s Cozy Corners – REVIEW
May 18 – Jane Reads – CHARACTER INTERVIEW
May 19 – Novels Alive – REVIEW
May 20 – Guatemala Paula Loves to Read – REVIEW
May 21 – #BRVL Book Review Virginia Lee – SPOTLIGHT
May 22 – Christa Reads and Writes – SPOTLIGHT
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2 thoughts on “Guest Post and Blog Tour for A Novel Disguise by Samantha Hastings”
What a fascinating time! (Sure makes me appreciate modern times!)
This book, with that interesting setting, sounds like an intriguing adventure for readers.
Thank you for highlighting my book!