The year is 1703 and young Coronation Amesbury, known as Corrie, is leaving her home in Wiltshire to look for work in Bristol. Before she arrives, she is made aware of a killer that is stalking the town, a killer who has already claimed the lives of six young boys. Locals talk of a travelling man called Red John who is slitting the throats of these young unfortunates without leaving a trail – nobody has any clue as to where he is and very few claim to have seen him. When the killer strikes close to home, Corrie is determined not to rest until justice is served…
I am thrilled to be part of the blog tour for Kat Armstrong’s debut, A Pair of Sharp Eyes, a book that will delight all lovers of historical fiction. This is one of those books that hooks you from the start as we meet Corrie, a young girl forced to make her own way in life. Although it is assumed that she is a naive country girl, we soon realise that this is someone with her wits about her, her intuition saving her from peril even before she arrives in Bristol! I immediately warmed to Corrie and couldn’t wait to see where her journey would take her.
In A Pair of Sharp Eyes, you are immediately transported back to eighteenth century Bristol, the language and description painting a vivid picture of the contrasting lives of the rich and poor. It was easy to visualise the run-down home of Corrie’s sister and the difficulty she had in just trying to survive. After witnessing her sister’s life, it was understandable why Corrie was keen to secure herself a job as a maid at the house of one of the more wealthy Bristolians.
Some difficult subjects are addressed in the plot, not least the slave trade. I liked Corrie’s attitude towards something she clearly felt was abhorrent and I loved the relationship she had with Abraham – he was probably one of my favourite characters in the book. The characterisation was something that made this book special, a rounded picture being built of each person, their lives slowly unfolding as the book progressed.
Although the blurb discusses the murders of the boys, and this does play a pivotal role in the lives of many of the characters, there is so much more to this book than a historical whodunit. A Pair of Sharp Eyes provides a fascinating look at life in the early eighteenth century when religion and wealth (or lack of it) played a huge role in determining how a person’s life would progress. I feel that, as we have had several hints as to what has happened in Corrie’s past, there is scope for a series and I hope this is what the author has in mind as I thoroughly enjoyed this book.
With thanks to Hookline Books for my copy of A Pair of Sharp Eyes and to Kelly from Love Books Tours for organising the blog tour.