Review: The Colour of Rubies by Toni Mount


Murder lurks at the heart of the royal court in the rabbit warren of the Palace of Westminster. The year is 1480. Treason is afoot amongst the squalid grandeur and opulent filth of this medieval world of contrasts. Even the Office of the King’s Secretary hides a dangerous secret.

Meeting with lords and lackeys, clerks, courtiers and the mighty King Edward himself, can Seb Foxley decipher the encoded messages and name the spy?

Will Seb be able to prevent the murder of the most important heir in England?

All will be revealed as we join Seb Foxley and his abrasive brother Jude in the latest intriguing adventure amid the sordid shadows of fifteenth-century London.

My Review

This is the first Sebastian Foxley book I ever read, but I didn’t have any trouble picking up the thread. I quickly understood the Seb was a clever, talented man, though his apparent reputation for sleuthing was not the first strong point that came to my attention. He was inordinately proud of his work as a scribe and artist, and the last piece didn’t fall into place until he and his obnoxious brother Jude discovered a dead scribe sprawled over his desk—after business hours. Seb quickly identified that the man was murdered and how—contradicting the resident coroner who had overlooked the clues:

The surgeon shouted out, quite truthfully, that this upstart had no medical training and no right to question his findings as the expert in such matters. This Foxley fellow was but a charlatan and a fool and should be fined for his presumption. Others agreed, in particular the clerks on the jury, fearing things might become awkward for them in the scriptorium, if one of their number was suspected of having died by murderous means and intent.

‘You’ve set the fox among the chickens now, little brother,’ Jude called out. ‘Should have kept your mouth shut.’

Nonetheless, his detection was enough to get him hired by Lord Hastings—the king’s chamberlain—as an unwilling investigator. This assignment required Seb to masquerade as a fellow clerk until the resident murderer was uncovered—a job, naturally enough, fraught with danger. It didn’t help that Jude was intimately involved, for his unsavory behavior tended to complicate an already prickly situation. Apparently, although the two brothers were total opposites, they loved and depended on each other, so at least Jude had one supporter—and only one, as far as I could tell. Jude’s behavior toward his wife, the beautiful Italian Chesca, was atrocious; this alone merited his expulsion from polite society. I was surprised Seb put up with him, but of course I don’t know their history. Jude’s shenanigans were an unwelcome distraction to the case, but Seb worked it out anyway, though he came dangerously close to losing his life in the process. London was not the safest place to live in the fifteenth century!

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Meet Toni Mount

Toni Mount is the author of several successful non-fiction books including How to Survive in Medieval England and the number one best-seller, Everyday Life in Medieval England. Her speciality is the lives of ordinary people in the Middle Ages and her enthusiastic understanding of the period allows her to create accurate, atmospheric settings and realistic characters for her medieval mysteries. Her main character, Sebastian Foxley is a humble but talented medieval artist and was created as a project as part of her university diploma in creative writing. Toni earned her history BA from The Open University and her Master’s Degree from the University of Kent by completing original research into a unique 15th century medical manuscript.

Toni writes regularly for both The Richard III Society and The Tudor Society and is a major contributor to  As well as writing, Toni teaches history to adults, and is a popular speaker to groups and societies.

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