The Murder in Whirligig Lane...
Bresciano and the Yellow Jack
(Published 2010, Calpe Press; 2nd edition 2014, Two Pillars Press)
Features Capt. Wentworth, from Jane Austen's 'Persuasion'.
“It’s a cracking story, well-written with a good plot – believable and with enough twists and turns to satisfy the most avid mystery devotee.” Andalucia Life.
“An exceptionally pleasing novel… and a storyline you can get your teeth into. There are abundant clues….nevertheless, the dénouement has the element of surprise which you expect in a book worthy of the genre.” Gibraltar Chronicle.
“The world of the novel was so real that I didn’t want to leave it. Lovely character observation… taut and exciting. Hugely enjoyable.” BBC script writer.
“The Murder in Whirligig Lane passes the Good Mystery Test, because the dénouement is unforeseeable, in spite of a generous supply of clues, and yet plausible. I read it at one sitting, and look forward to Bresciano’s next case. It also made me want to pay another visit to Gibraltar. Alan Fisk, Historical Novels Review, UK
Fall of a Sparrow...
Bresciano's First Case
(Published 2010, HKB Press)
Baron von Munchhausen makes a fleeting and anonymous, appearance.
“The characterisation is wonderful, not only of our young hero but also of every single character. There is a whole panoply of them, some real and some fictional. Apart from being a ‘cracking good read’, it is a lovely way to flesh out one’s knowledge of the period. The very different lives being lived by the civilians and the military, the privations of war, the fear of epidemics in days when health care was minimal, the warmth of Gibraltarian family relationships, the development of the modern Gibraltarian, Gibraltar itself…..they are all there. 'Fall of a Sparrow' works on many levels, and I heartily recommend it as a most enjoyable read.” Olga Zammitt, Mayor of Gibraltar 2010
“I read it in just two sittings because it is hard to put down and I found it extremely well written, with a plot that kept me on tenterhooks all the time. I also appreciated the fine analysis of a young man's psychological development, which makes it realistic.
History and romance are well embroidered in the main detective story and the odd comedy moment lightens the mood. It's interesting how (the authors) cast on the reader the heavy atmosphere of inactivity, expectancy, hope and fear, building up for an attack which is almost wished upon just to break the lull, too. Well done! I cannot wait for the next story, which is to be set in exotic Tangier!” Elena Scialtiel, author and journalist.
“Set during the Great Siege of Gibraltar (1779), this is an unusual crime novel. When a young Scottish soldier, childlike Jamie Macfarlane is found hanged, suicide is assumed. But Jamie’s friend, Giovanni Bresciano, is convinced he was murdered and sets out to find the killer. Bresciano is an unconventional hero – a Gibraltar boy recruited into the British Army, he combines dogged determination and local knowledge with a feverish adolescent imagination. His scattershot selection of suspects and motives is ridiculed by friends and soldiers alike. But rising above his lack of experience and method, he perseveres.
Gibraltar besieged makes an interesting setting for a novel. Eight thousand people crammed into three square miles of barren rock create a potent backdrop. Hunger, frustration, boredom and a hodge-podge population collected from 18th century Europe are all cleverly woven into the (rather far-fetched) plot, and Gibraltar is so well described it almost becomes a character itself. Bresciano’s callow youth makes him an attractive, if sometimes irritating, hero. The authors have taken care to create many three-dimensional minor characters and this, combined with their affection for Bresciano and for Gibraltar, contributes to a very enjoyable read.” Lynn Guest, Historical Novels Review UK
“Characters sympathetic and … even better drawn than in the first novel… this tale rattles along to its conclusion. I picked it up and, apart from going to work and bed, I did not put it down until I had finished it.” Gibraltar Chronicle.
The Pearls of Tangier...
Bresciano in Morocco
(Published 2011, Rock Scorpion Books)
The background is Dr William Lempriere's book 'A Tour from Gibraltar to..... Morocco, including a particular account of the Royal harem.' (The latter are not featured in our story!)
This is the third book in the Bresciano Mysteries series, but it works perfectly well as a standalone read. This particular novel is set mainly in Tangier, as the title suggests, and it follows the fortunes and investigations of Giovanni Bresciano, a likeable and astute amateur detective from Gibraltar. He is asked to go to Tangier on a family rescue mission because his young sister has become unsuitably entangled in a possible love affair with a certain Percival Aziz Rogers, who features prominently in later plot developments.
Arriving in Tangier, Bresciano is confronted with a murder and serious theft case which he must solve in order to save the day. With the help of a local street boy and Dr Lemprière, a real life surgeon who was sent to try to help the emperor’s son keep his sight, Bresciano must find out who committed the murder of the Scandinavian guard and try to recover the lost pearls of the title.
The novel is well plotted with the usual red herrings and subplot complications, and the characters are strongly conveyed. The time period of 1789 and the exotic setting permeate the novel without overpowering the action or the characters.
I thoroughly enjoyed this light but well researched novel. It is reminiscent of Agatha Christie in the way it has a limited number of suspects and with various secrets being revealed along the way. Recommended.” Ann Northfield, Historical Novels Review UK
The Prince's Lady…
Bresciano and the Baroness
(Published 2012, Two Pillars Press)
(Features, among others, Prince Edward, later to be father to a child – Victoria – who, in time, would become Queen of England.
“I was delighted to discover a well-plotted story, which was highly engrossing. The two authors managed to blend their writing styles seamlessly, and the result was a plausible and highly entertaining novel...
“….all the characters are believable and dovetail perfectly into the story, from Mr Whitmore with his artistic aspirations to Bresciano's seriously ill and elderly father. However, for me, Coniglio, the Prince's major-domo, was particularly memorable because of his anger and arrogance, which made him both obnoxious and pitiable.
“It was refreshing to read a novel with a different setting, and the descriptions were both interesting and in harmony with the content. The authors have created a vivid sense of time and place. This novel is well worth reading.” Myfanwy Cook, Historical Novels Review
An unsolicited 'review' from a fan:
Termine de leer el libro!! No sabes como lo he disfrutado, mas que el primero. En este libro Bresciano es mas maduro en todo lo que hace. Me encanto la trama, yo no pude distinguir quien era el culpable! Y un lindo final.
The Devil's Tongue...
(Published 2013, Two Pillars Press)
"Rogers...the elegant, charming and utterly unscrupulous Casanova of Tangier – far too interesting a villain to appear in only one book... And also making it into Gibraltar before the closure (of the frontier against the plague) is Matra, British Consul in Tangier, and his manservant Muhammad, once a street urchin and pickpocket, now a man with a position in life. We have also met these two delightful characters before.
“The clues always seem to point home – (to the Bresciano household). We watch as Bresciano and Muhammad slowly begin to paste the picture together.
“The characters are well drawn with care being taken even with the minor players. There is a really well thought out plot and the clues are clever and obvious, when you know what actually happened, but obscure enough in isolation to keep the reader guessing. This book was selected for one of the talks in the first Gibraltar International Literary Festival, which it richly deserved... and I am more than happy to recommend this delightful diversion into our fictional past.” Christine Thomson, Gibraltar Chronicle.
“There are many things about (the murder) that don't add up, such as the corpse having wet hair, the fact that it bleeds apparently after death, and that someone takes the trouble to rescue the corpse from the fire (at the warehouse). No one is particularly distraught at the death of such a nasty villain, but justice demands that the killer is identified.
“There are many satisfying red herrings and plot twists, which are pulled together at the end. This is the fifth in the series, and its fans will be very content with the latest. Recommended.” Ann Northfield, Historical Novels Review UK
Death in Paradise Ramp
Bresciano and the Unburied Angel
(Published Oct. 2014, Two Pillars Press)
Features, among others, George and Lydia Wickham from 'Pride and Prejudice'
"...[The main] characters, the townsfolk, the clergy are insightfully drawn and with the town of Gibraltar itself, make an engrossing and often entertaining story.
"A must for Bresciano fans and anyone who wants to familiarise themselves with historic Gibraltar (and for newcomers I must add that they will find Paradise Ramp on the map) and the background of the people we now know as Gibraltarians."
Christine Thomson, Gibraltar Chronicle
“Ramps” in Gibraltar are steep streets that today are furnished with stone steps, but in 1802 they are still rough and unsurfaced. Workmen clearing away a dilapidated house on Paradise Ramp discover a skeleton in the cellar.
Amateur detective Giovanni Bresciano, who has already starred in five previous Gibraltar-based mysteries, soon finds out whose body it is, and that it was a murder victim. The Town Major, a military officer who is the nearest thing Gibraltar has to a chief of police, has his hands full trying to forestall a possible mutiny by soldiers angry about the closure of most of the town’s drinking dens by the disciplinarian new Governor, the Duke of Kent (the future father of Queen Victoria).
As if murder and mutiny were not trouble enough, Bresciano is dropped in on by two hitherto unheard-of Genoese cousins, who are laying over in Gibraltar on their way to America. The elder, Umberto, thrusts himself into “helping” Bresciano investigate the murder. A certain Captain and Mrs Wickham also appear, which may please or offend fans of Jane Austen (which I’m not).
Tensions are bubbling in several of the families involved, including Bresciano’s own, but a kind of rough justice is arrived at in the end, too rough for Bresciano’s comfort.
I thought the plotting a little less neat than in the other Bresciano novels, but this is a fast and gripping read, which I recommend.
Alan Fisk, Historical Novels Review UK
The Dead Can't Paint.
This is the latest and last of the Gibraltar-set Giovanni Bresciano mysteries. An arrogant and obnoxious French painter comes to Gibraltar in 1817 and proceeds to offend so many people that there is no shortage of suspects when he is found murdered.
Bresciano is tasked to investigate, to the annoyance of the Town Major, the Army officer who is responsible for dealing with crime in Gibraltar. Bresciano’s attempts at detection are complicated by the involvement in the case of so many odd characters. They include a glum lady herbalist that Bresciano’s sister is trying to match him up with, and a strange 10-year-old boy who today would probably be assessed as being somewhere on the autistic spectrum. A more welcome, but sometimes equally stressful, distraction is the return to Gibraltar, after decades away, of Bresciano’s first love, Bianca, now widowed herself.
The story is framed by scenes set elsewhere much later in the 19th century, with unrelated (or are they?) characters, and there is a bonus in the form of a mention of Bresciano in a famous author’s newly-discovered letter, and two short stories, one of which is narrated by Bresciano himself.
The Bresciano series comes to a fitting end with this mystery, and I choose to boast that it is the first one in which I spotted the murderer before Bresciano did.
Alan Fisk, Historical Novels Review UK