Fidelis Morgan is an actor and an expert in Restoration comedy. Acclaimed for her stage plays, Pamela and Hangover Square, she also collaborated with Lynda la Plante on Channel 4's tense, psychological thriller Killer Net. She has written non-fiction studies of charismatic female figures from the 17th and 18th centuries, and contributed to the bestselling Virago anthology Wicked. In Unnatural Fire, she combines historical interest with her lifelong passion for crime fiction.
British actress and playwright Morgan's (Hangover Square) love of Restoration comedy fires her first novel, a bawdy romp featuring a pair of unlikely female sleuths: the intrepid 60-year-old Lady Anastasia Ashby de la Zouche, who was once Charles II's mistress, and her former personal maid, the buxom, alluring Alpiew. Desperate for money, the countess and Alpiew join forces to write articles for a London scandal sheet, but get sidetracked following a well-to-do merchant, Beau Wilson, at the behest of his worried wife, who is suspicious of his long, unexplained absences from home. As they trail Beau around London's seedier districts, the countess and Alpiew attend a play or two as well as a lecture on the eclipse of the sun (due later that year of 1699), comment wittily on the state of the theater and scientific learning and eventually stumble on their quarry, his throat cut from ear to ear, one night in Covent Garden. Like a comic Restoration play, the action proceeds pell-mell, replete with bad puns and knockabout farce. The discovery of a secret "elaboratory" where Beau dabbled in the "hermetic arts" (alchemy), a fishing outing to the country, the murder of the Wilsons' loyal servant, Betty, and a cipher in alchemical symbols all lead in the end to a surprising plot involving King William himself. Fans of light historical mysteries are sure to be amused. (Mar. 16) Forecast: The BBC and Channel 4 are adapting Unnatural Fire for a TV movie; A&E and PBS are both interested in U.S. rights. Adaptation by either of the latter will boost sales of the book down the road. Copyright 2001 Cahners Business Information.
'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