The Colour of Murder

Written by Toni Mount
Review by Christine Childs

This is book five in the Sebastian Foxley Medieval Mystery series. Don’t be concerned if you haven’t read the previous four books as The Colour of Murder can be read as a stand-alone historical novel. An academically qualified British history teacher, Mount has published a number of non-fiction works on medieval Britain. In 2016 she ventured into writing historical fiction with The Colour of Poison, the first in this medieval “who-dunnit” series, introducing Seb Foxley, medieval portrait artist and amateur sleuth.

The Colour of Murder is set in London in February 1478. Seb is painting a portrait of Richard, Duke of Gloucester, brother of the reigning king, Edward IV. Richard is distracted, as King Edward has thrown their brother, the Duke of Clarence, into the Tower of London for treason. Richard manages to obtain permission for Seb to visit the Tower to sketch his imprisoned brother. The visit doesn’t go to plan, and Seb’s life is threatened as he becomes embroiled in a royal murder plot. Meanwhile Seb’s household is on the verge of imploding as more than one of its inhabitants grapple with secrets and lies.

A complex array of Mount’s fictional characters interacts with real people in this treacherous period of British royal history. Until quite recently, history and literature weren’t kind to the Duke of Gloucester (later to become the infamous Richard the Third). Mount places herself firmly in the pro-Richard camp with The Colour of Murder, showing how he tried to plead for his condemned brother while maintaining loyalty to king and crown. The author uses her extensive knowledge of this period and speculates what might have happened, from the safe confines of a fictional narrative.

The Colour of Murder is an engrossing read with a different twist on familiar London sites and medieval royals. I couldn’t put it down.