Searcher of the Dead: A Bess Ellyott Mystery

Searcher of the Dead: A Bess Ellyott Mystery

by Nancy Herriman


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Herbalist and widow Bess Ellyott tries to escape the loss of her husband in Elizabethan London only to find that death is following her, and she may very well be next in Searcher of the Dead, the first in a new historical mystery series by Nancy Herriman.

Living amid the cultural flowering, religious strife, and political storms of Tudor England, Bess Ellyott is an herbalist, a widow, and a hunted woman. She fled London after her husband was brutally murdered, but the bucolic town in the countryside where she lands will offer her no solace. She still doesn’t know who killed her husband, but she knows one thing: The murderer is still out there. This becomes all too clear when Bess’s brother-in-law, a prosperous merchant, is himself found dead—dangling from a tree, an apparent suicide.

But Bess doesn’t believe that for a moment, and nor do her neighbors. Competition is cutthroat in the 17th century, and word around the town holds that the dead man is a victim of rival merchants scheming to corner the wool market. Bess, though, is convinced the killer is out to destroy her family.

Town constable Christopher Harwoode will cross members of his own family to help Bess find the killer—whose next target may very well be Queen Elizabeth I—in this unshakably gripping, devilishly unpredictable series debut that will delight fans of Alison Weir and Philippa Gregory.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781683315384
Publication date: 03/13/2018
Series: A Bess Ellyott Mystery Series , #1
Pages: 336
Sales rank: 881,403
Product dimensions: 5.60(w) x 8.30(h) x 1.20(d)

About the Author

Nancy Herriman retired from an engineering career to take up the pen. She hasn’t looked back. Her work has won the RWA Daphne du Maurier award. When not writing, she enjoys singing, gabbing about writing, and eating dark chocolate. She currently lives in Central Ohio. This is her first Bess Ellyott mystery.

Customer Reviews

Searcher of the Dead: A Bess Ellyott Mystery 4 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 4 reviews.
KrisAnderson_TAR More than 1 year ago
Searcher of the Dead by Nancy Herriman is the first book A Bess Ellyott Mystery series that is set in the late sixteenth century (1593). Elizabeth “Bess” Ellyott is a widow, herbalist and healer who moved from London to Wiltshire one year ago after the death of her husband. Only Bess and her servant, Joan know that Martin Ellyott was murdered, and Bess hopes that the killer has not followed her to her new home. Bess returns home to where she lives with her brother, Robert Marshall, after attending to a sick child. Waiting for Bess is her sister, Dorothie who is very distraught. Dorothie’s husband, Fulke Crofton failed to return home that evening after his journey to the nearby town of Devizes. She feels that Fulke has come to harm and wants them out searching immediately. Since dark is approaching, they convince her to wait until the morn. The next day Fulke is found suspended from a tree and the coroner’s jury quickly rules the death a suicide. In the dark of night, Bess examines the body to confirm that Fulke was murdered. But she will need tangible proof to get the coroner’s decision reversed. Constable Christopher “Kit” Harwoode joins Bess in the search for the truth. The pair ask discreet questions in their quest to uncover Fulke’s killer. Could it be the person lurking in the old priory? Is Fulke’s murder related to Martin’s? Travel back in time to when Queen Elizabeth I was reigning to pursue a killer in Searcher of the Dead. Searcher of the Dead is an Elizabethan mystery. Nancy Herriman captured the era with her descriptions of the clothing, housing, people’s attitudes and superstitions, how the characters spoke, and the way of life. The author included many interesting historical details that will fascinate readers. Priest holes, fines for not attending church every week, and Queen Elizabeth’s torturer-Richard Topcliffe and his cruel tactics are just a few of the interesting tidbits. The historical details overwhelm all else at times (heavy handed is the best way to describe it). I found the Searcher of the Dead to have a very slow pace thanks to the writing style and amount of detail included. The writing was stilted. I can understand the dialogue being awkward due to the way people spoke in the sixteenth century. However, the rest of the book needed a less formal writing style (it lacked an ease). It needed to be written in a way that would draw the readers in and keep them engaged (instead of drifting off to sleep until my dog started licking my face). The lack of action does not help matters either. The mystery of Fulke’s murder was compelling, and it contained some good clues along with misdirection. Many readers will be surprised by the identity of the person who committed the reprehensible act. I wish the author had not repeated the same details so many times throughout the book (Bess is obstinate and the details of the case for example). There is a romance blossoming between Bess and Kit that I am sure will progress in future books (they do make a good couple). I was satisfied with how the author wrapped up the storylines at the end of the book. Searcher of the Dead will appeal to those who are fascinated with the Elizabethan era.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
The history was great as was the mystery. I think I shall really enjoy this new series .
Vesper1931 More than 1 year ago
1590's and after the death of her family Bess Ellyott has gone to live with her brother Robert Marshall. All is well until the husband of her sister Dorothie, Fulke Crofton, is found hanged. Although the coroner proclaims a suicide Bess is not convinced. With the help of the town constable Christopher Harwoode she hopes to prove and find the murderer. An enyoyable well-written mystery with some likeable charaters and the growing relationship between Harwoode and Bess. A good start to a new series.
PShaw More than 1 year ago
Searcher of the Dead is Ms. Herriman’s debut entry into what I hope will become a long-running mystery series set realistically, and intriguingly, in the Elizabethan era. As in her other works (The Irish Healer and the Old San Francisco Mystery series) the heroine of the book, Bess Ellyot, is in the business of medicine. In this era, with medical knowledge in its infancy, Bess is an herbalist, but with the skills to recognize a murder when she sees one, even if it’s been ruled a suicide. At this fascinating period in history, a ruling of suicide means the entire family can lose every single thing they own, leaving them destitute. When it’s Bess’s brother-in-law who’s declared a suicide, she’s determined to get to the truth to save her family the shame and their loss of their home and fortune. Even if means risking her reputation and her own life. Coming to her aid is the town constable, Christoper “Kit” Harwoode, a man with plenty of reasons of his own to stay with the suicide verdict, but reasonable enough to be willing to entertain Bess’s claims. I really liked Kit. A bit of a love interest, perhaps, but this is only vaguely a romance (which I can’t wait to see develop in future books!). This book is, at its core, a scrumptiously good mystery. In the character of Bess, Ms. Herriman has nimbly walked the fine line of creating a woman who is wholly of her own times and yet a woman modern readers can relate to and root for and recognize for her courage, headstrong stubbornness, and love of family. The language in this book is beautiful, especially for readers like me who love Elizabethan history and appreciate accurate wording for everyday items and events. And yet, for anyone not so familiar with the language of that era, the language isn’t so dense it can’t be figured out. Harder to figure out (delightfully so) is the truth at the bottom of the mystery. Did her brother-in-law commit the ultimate sin, or did one of his business rivals in the cutthroat wool trade take a shortcut to profit? There are plenty of terrific red herrings, richly drawn suspects, and evil deeds done as Bess unravels this tangled web of intrigue. I can hardly wait to see what’s next for this plucky, intelligent, relatable heroine and this exciting new series! I consider myself incredibly fortunate to have obtained an advance reading copy for review.