The first in a hugely entertaining, vivid, colourful and fascinating crime series featuring a down-at-heel countess and her maid on the loose in late Restoration London: 'A frolicking good read' Daily Mail
London 1699. Anastasia Ashby de la Zouche, Baroness Penge, Countess of Clapham, former mistress to Charles II, is an aristocrat on her uppers. Cast into the notorious Fleet Prison by the bum-bailiffs, she is forced to turn to journalism: ferreting out scurrilous tit-bits for a scandal sheet. But the Countess and her maidservant Alpiew encounter more intrigue than they bargained for when a mysterious woman hires them to follow her husband, Beau, whom she suspects of adultery.
Their pursuit of Beau leads them to playhouses, scientific lectures, coffee houses, the half-constructed St Paul's Cathedral and dives of Alsatia, only to end abruptly in a Covent Garden churchyard - leaving the Countess and Alpiew implicated in a murder. And worse is to follow, for to unravel their only clue they must penetrate the mysteries of alchemy.
Fidelis Morgan is an actress and expert in Restoration comedy. Acclaimed for her stage plays, Pamela and Hangover Square, she also collaborated with Lynda la Plante on Channel 4's psychological thriller Killer Net. She has written studies of charismatic female figures from the 17th & 18th centuries and edited the bestselling Virago anthology Wicked. In her first novel Unnatural Fire, she combines historical interest with her lifelong passion for crime fiction.
'Morgan's hilarious 17th century romp combines an authentic slice of history with a tantalising storyline. Colourful turns of phrase and witty descriptions - like a bawdy P.G. Wodehouse - leave you with a keen sense of the period. This is a frolicking good read' Daily Mail
'Fidelis Morgan's tale of love and greed and alchemy in 1699 is a heady compound of wit, wisdom and wildness. It's an unsentimental warts-and-all portrait that reeks of authenticity, written with a brio that reflects the age' Val McDermid
'A lusty, audacious historical romp .all the bawdiness of London at the turn of the 18th century is brought to life' Maxim Jakubowski, Guardian
'Thigh-slapping, exclamatory stuff . loudly, lustily, enthusiastically done' Literary Review
'The perfect autumn read' Marie Claire