The Rival Queens by Fidelis Morgan
A Novel of Artifice, Gunpowder and Murder in Eighteenth-Century London

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Nominated for the "FUNNIEST BOOK OF THE YEAR" Lefty Award at Left Coast Crime 2003

London 1699. Those intrepid and impecunious heroines the Countess Ashby de la Zouche and her maidservant Alpiew are once more scavenging for scandal to entertain the readers of that scurrilous rag, the London Trumpet. With the bailiffs as ever in hot pursuit, the Countess and Alpiew are reduced to seeking refuge in a philosophical lecture at the York Buildings concert hall. But their expectations of a dull evening are confounded when one of the players staggers on to the stage, her hands dripping with blood. A doyenne has been decapitated under their very noses.

The unlikely sleuths find themselves with an abundance of suspects: players, phanatiques, punks, pink ribbons, a Punch and Judy man - not to mention a painter with a silver proboscis. Determined to leave no stone unturned, they pursue their quarry from the Tower of London to Bedlam, with a brief detour to the wilds of Wapping. Along the way they uncover (with a little help from Samuel Pepys) a web of intrigue and corruption that extends to the highest echelons of society and the judiciary.


If you haven't yet made the acquaintance of the Countess and Alpiew, I urge you to do so at once. You will be rewarded with thrills and laughter aplenty. Steven Saylor

Fidelis Morgan's books are meticulous in their historical accuracy, zestful in their crime plotting, and very funny. Simon Brett

A delicious, rollicking romp of a mystery that kept me enthralled. Fidelis Morgan writes just the sort of story I love, full of sensuous details that make history come alive... I can't wait to read her next one. Tess Gerritsen

I challenge you to open a Fidelis Morgan at any page and not to be grabbed and plunged into a story where the action is non-stop and outrageous. The Countess Ashby de la Zouche books are a joy, written with tremendous energy and flair. It goes without saying that Fidelis has done her history homework, but no one ever made history more fun. Peter Lovesey

A 1699 version of bawdy London is splendidly brought to life in Fidelis Morgan's The Rival Queens, the second rollicking novel to feature the wiles and conniving intrigues of Countess Ashby de la Zouche and her maidservant Alpiew... Restoration comedy and action, artifice, gunpowder and Samuel Pepys a perfect historical menu of crime and mystery, with the bonus of laughs aplenty. The Guardian

Steeped in period detail and wit, it's a mystery that is as much fun to read as it is to try to solve. Minneapolis Star Tribune


About Fidelis Morgan

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Published June 21, 2011 by William Morrow. 364 pages
Genres: History, Mystery, Thriller & Suspense, Literature & Fiction, Crime. Fiction

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Publishers Weekly

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In her second bawdy, madcap adventure (after 2001's Unnatural Fire), the incomparable Anastasia, Lady Ashby de la Zouche, Countess of Clapham, Baroness Penge (and former mistress to Charles II), aided by her faithful maid, Alpiew, faces "a brace of murders, an illicit marriage ceremony, an escape...

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