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PFC2I love P. F. Chisholm’s Carey Mysteries.

Love them so much that when a new one is published I buy it and, instead of reading it straight away, I put it aside for some time when I need the reading equivalent of comfort food.

They are mysteries, set in the 1590s, starring Robert Carey, deputy warden of the Western March, and son to Lord Hunsdon, Queen Elizabeth’s chamberlain and cousin-under-the-rose. The structure is in the best whodunit tradition, with one or more murderers to be discovered – and usually additional trouble comes in the form of the tangled and rough politics around the Scottish Border or, in the last couple of instalments, of court intrigue in London.

But to me the whodunit is just a convenient excuse to see once more in action Chisholm’s wonderful characters, most of all Carey himself, and his henchman, the dour Sergeant Dodd, who isn’t half as stolid as he pretends to be. Carey and Dodd started out, in the first volume, as both an incomprehensible puzzle and some kind of divine punishment to each other, and it has been a delight to watch them reach an understanding that evolved in respect and, in time, a mutual liking.

Add to the mix lovely language with just the right amount of Elizabethan flavour, a vivid depiction of time, place and people (both real and fictional) and sparkling dialogue, and you can colour me perfectly happy.

Now Carey&Dodd’s latest adventure, An Air of Treason, has been out for two days and is safely tucked in my Kindle, ready for the next time I need a little holiday in Elizabethan times to cheer me up.

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