#Book Review: A Shortcut to Murder by William Savage @penandpension #RBRT #historical mystery

This review is for Rosie’s #Bookreview team. The book was purchased by the reviewer.

a-shortcut-to-murderA Shortcut to Murder is the third in The Dr. Adam Bascom Mysteries set in Georgian England. I’ve read the first two and was intrigued by the historical setting and, since I’m married to a physician and taught medical students for years, was drawn to the sleuth.

The main character, Dr. Adam Bascom, practices medicine in Aylsham, a small town in Norwich. His closest friend, and the person off of whom he bounces ideas, is Peter Lassimer, a pharmacist and a confirmed ladies’ man. Indeed, Dr. Bascom’s unmarried status is the subject of many of their interchanges and a thread running through this book, as in the first two, but with more intensity.

After solving the previous two murders, the good doctor is anxious to get back to treating patients, and his first is the nephew of Lady Alice, young widow of one of Bascom’s former patients. Bascom becomes progressively drawn into this family and drawn to Lady Alice as the story evolves. However, he is interrupted in his practice yet again, this time called by his brother, Giles, a magistrate, to confirm the findings of a local coroner in the death of Sir Jackman Wennard, a local landowner, debauching scoundrel, racehorse breeder and baronet.  His son, now Sir Robert, is an equally repugnant character and refuses to accept that his father’s death was anything more than an accident.

Sir Jackman was killed by a blow to his body, which caused him to fall off his horse and break his neck. Bascom quickly confirms the injury he sustained could not have resulted from a simple fall, but rather from running into a rope, which flung him back and all but severed his head from his body.  There are many unresolved questions and as some are answered, others emerge. How could the blow be delivered with such force? How could the killer have known where and when to lie in wait? – especially since no one could have foreseen Sir Jackman’s movements on the morning of his death.

Who is the woman who caused Sir Jackman to take the path he did that morning, and why is his son so determined to prevent the lawyers from assessing Jackman’s belongings in order to probate his will? Piling on to Bascom’s confusion is the kidnapping of Sir Robert. Is it related to the rash of highway robberies plaguing local roads?

This is the densest of the author’s mysteries yet, with many threads that as they are pulled, reveal others.  It also adds more depth to the main character, his determination to find the answers, his insight, and also his confusion about himself – does he want to remain a country doctor and how does he truly feel about women? Add to that a wealth of detailed information about life in Georgian Norwich, all of which gives the reader a rich slice of life at that time.

There are some drawbacks to this novel: there are long dialogue dumps and there is repetition galore as Bascom goes over and over what he knows with various friends and family. As I result, I did skim some pages.

Overall, though, I enjoyed this book as much as the previous one and would recommend it to anyone who likes historical mysteries.

About the author:

SavageWilliam Savage grew up in Hereford, on the border with Wales and too his degree at Cambridge. After a career in various managerial and executive roles, he retired to Norfolk, where he volunteers at a National Trust property. His life-long interest has been history, which led to research and writing about the eighteenth century.  But his is not just a superficial interest in history, but a real desire to understand and transmit the daily experience of living in turbulent times.

You can find A Shortcut to Murder on Amazon:

William Savage’s blog is Pen and Pension:



15 thoughts on “#Book Review: A Shortcut to Murder by William Savage @penandpension #RBRT #historical mystery”

  1. Interesting – I am reading this at the moment and am 12% in and like what I’ve read, as I always do with Mr Savage’s books! I never consider his dialogue to be ‘dumps’ (at what point does extended dialogue become a ‘dump’, I wonder? It’s something that occurs to me when I’m writing, too!!!). It’s always so beautifully written that he can dump away, as far as I’m concerned! The only downside I find with these books is the repetition of Bascom or Foxe’s theories, partly because I am not a great fan of crime solving books (yes, I tend to skip read those bits, too); I love Mr Savage’s writing because of the excellent characterisation, the artful dialogue and the bringing alive of the period of history. Oh, and it’s my part of the country, too, like the Sandlands book!

    Sorry…. I didn’t mean to yak on for so long!!!

    1. AW, Terry, you can yak on any time. William did a lot of repetition of theories in this book, but I like his books anyway. His knowledge of Georgian times is encyclopedic. Knowing now that you don’t like crime solving books, I am honored you read mine! Do read one of William’s in the Ashmole Fox series. The main character is a book shop owner, a fop and a semi-womanizer. I love him.

  2. Sounds like an interesting read, similar to some of the Brit mystery series I favor on Acorn. I would probably skim the retelling as well, but you make the book sound as if it would be well worth my time, even though historirical fiction is not a genre I have explored much to date.

    Thanks for reading and sharing your review.
    (Madelyn Griffith-Haynie – ADDandSoMuchMore dot com)
    – ADD Coach Training Field founder; ADD Coaching co-founder –
    “It takes a village to educate a world!”

      1. I’ve promised myself more me-time once I get a couple of classes up and running so I can keep a roof over my head.

        I hope to be able to spend many cozy hours reading during Cincinnati’s late winter – Jan-Feb-Mar – when I’m practically snow-bound for days on end. I don’t drive when black ice warnings abound.


        1. Yup, you get snow there! I remember from the time we lived in Chicago, but of course we got lake snow there. We do get black ice here – I’ve learned how to drive in snow and ice thanks to those years in Chicago!

          1. I lived in Manhattan for 20 years (after time in the South) – where very few people eschew excellent public trans to drive in ice and slush. So I never learned how to do it safely. I guess I’d have to in Chicago – but that’s not on my list of possible sites to which I might relocate.

            I’m hoping I’ll still be looking in this country after November’s election! There are more than a few possibilities that scare me more than driving on icy roads!

    1. Thanks, Diana. Start with the first in this series for an introduction, or you could read his series with the character Ashmole Fox (great name) , also set in the same time period. Ashmore is a book shop owner and a fop!

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