blog tour, books, reviews

Blog Tour: Twelve Nights – Penny Ingham

The Theatre
London, 1592
When a player is murdered, suspicion falls on the wardrobe mistress, Magdalen Bisset, because everyone knows poison is a woman’s weapon. The scandal-pamphlets vilify her. The coroner is convinced of her guilt.
Magdalen is innocent, although few are willing to help her prove it. Her much-loved grandmother is too old and sick. Will Shakespeare is benignly detached, and her friend Christopher Marlowe is wholly unreliable. Only one man offers his assistance, but dare she trust him when nothing about him rings true?
With just two weeks until the inquest, Magdalen ignores anonymous threats to ‘leave it be’, and delves into the dangerous underworld of a city seething with religious and racial tension. As time
runs out, she must risk everything in her search for the true killer – for all other roads lead to the gallows.

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I was born and raised in Yorkshire where my father inspired my love of history from an early age. He is a born story teller and would take us to the top of Iron Age hillforts, often as dusk was falling, and
regale us with stirring tales of battles lost and won. Not surprisingly, I went on to study Classics at university, and still love spending my summers on archaeological digs. For me, there is nothing more
thrilling than finding an artefact that has not seen the light of day for thousands of years. I find so much inspiration for my novels from archaeology.
I have had a variety of jobs over the years, including working for the British Forces newspaper in Germany, and at the BBC. When our family was little, the only available space for me to write was a
small walk-in wardrobe. The children used to say, ‘oh, mum’s in the cupboard again’.
I have written four historical novels: The King’s Daughter explores the story of Aethelflaed, the Lady of the Mercians. The Saxon Wolves and the Saxon Plague are both set in fifth century AD, a time of
enormous upheaval and uncertainty in Britain as the Romans departed and the Saxon era began. My latest is something a bit different. Twelve Nights is a crime thriller set in sixteenth century London,
and features William Shakespeare and Christopher Marlowe.
I now live with my husband in the Hampshire countryside. Like many others during the pandemic, we decided to try growing our own fruit and vegetables – with mixed results! We can only get

Facebook: Penny Ingham Author Page | Facebook
Instagram: Penny Ingham (@penny.ingham)Twitter: Penny Ingham (@pennyingham) / Twitter
Website: Penny Ingham (

Giveaway to Win a PB copy of Twelve Nights (Open to UK Only)

My thoughts: for me this book ticks lots of boxes, as a theatre history nerd, a Shakespeare (apparently my husband’s family are distantly related), a literature student, a crime fiction fan, a history lover and more.

Helpfully it’s also well written, enjoyable and has a great protagonist in Magdalen Bisset, my first name is derived from Magdalen and I have French ancestry, so I felt a kinship with the Theatre’s wardrobe mistress. She’s falsely accused of murder and being as the constable is the one convinced of her guilt and there not being a proper police force to investigate, Magdalen sets out to prove her innocence and uncover the real killer.

I loved the theatricals, most of them notorious drunks and rogues, from Burbage to Kemp, Marlowe to Condell. And of course the Swan of Avon – William Shakespeare, scribbling away in his attic room at the Mountjoys’ house on Silver Street.

I also really liked the evocation of the world of Elizabethan London, the stinking, crowded mass of it, the streets and alleyways, the fact that there was only the one bridge so you needed to catch a boat across the Thames, and they weren’t supposed to run after dark. The proximity of actors to royalty has always intrigued me, and like the author, I think Marlowe was a spy of some sort.

The conspiracy Magdalen uncovers as she seeks to clear her name is shocking but does tie in to several rumours that floated about the court even after James I & VI took the throne. I hope there’s more to come from this world. I want Magdalen and Louisa to set up as the first all women PI firm and investigate more crimes in the morass of religion, poetry and pubs of London in the 1500s.

The author’s notes at the end about the discovery of various theatre’s remains in London has given me a new activity to do next time I catch the train to the capital – go and visit these sites. So make sure you read on beyond the end of the story.

*I was kindly gifted a copy of this book in exchange for taking part in the blog tour but all opinions remain my own.

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