The Cunning Man Reviewed

I recently read The Cunning Man, a unique short story collection by John Yeoman.

02_The Cunning Man CoverTo give you a quick feel for it, here’s the publisher’s description: “Looking for clever, fast-paced historical mysteries? Here you’ll discover seven ‘impossible’ crimes, locked room puzzles, passion and riddles galore. Enjoy these lusty crime stories set in Elizabethan England where a ‘cunning man’, Hippo Yeoman, must solve devilish cases to save his friends’ lives, or even his own.

This anthology of short historical mystery stories is a world ‘first’. It’s not only a joy to read in its own right, but it’s also a ‘fictorial’: a collection of crime thrillers packed with clever but unobtrusive tips that show you precisely how they were written, to help you write your own stories! They will appeal equally to avid readers of historical crime and students of creative writing who want to enhance their story or novel writing skills, in any genre.

Can you find the culprit before Hippo does? Challenge your own detective skills, enjoy a thundering good read in settings that are wholly authentic to 16th century London, and discover – while you read – how to write a great story!”

I enjoyed this collection of stories and found the notes on their construction interesting and informative. The author combines clever plots, with interesting tweaks to the historical record, and a likeable main character, Hippo, to produce a satisfying collection of stories. Each tale can be read entirely on its own but, by reading the stories in order, I enjoyed ‘experiencing’ the developments in Hippo’s life over a period of months. Including a back story and references to the main character’s own life added depth to the stories so that they were not only a series of mysteries which Hippo solved. The author’s ability to convincingly evoke the sights, sounds and smells of Elizabethan England also added to my enjoyment of the stories. Fans of historical mysteries as well as writers looking for insights into short story writing will find this a worthwhile collection to read.

For more information about the author and his work, please visit John Yeoman’s website, and follow him on Twitter.

Cunning John YeomanAbout Dr John Yeoman: He holds a PhD Creative Writing and is a total rogue. His first adventure when leaving Oxford university with an MA in English literature was to host a witchcraft cabaret in a London cellar. This so enchanted him with devilry that he took up a career in public relations. Across 42 years he has edited a newspaper, chaired a big PR consultancy and trained several thousands of people to write for fame, fun and occasionally fortune.

For fifteen years he ran Britain’s largest self-publishing business and earned up to $1.4 million annually from his own living room. He founded Writers’ Village in 2009, now one of the world’s largest short fiction contests. It’s no coincidence that its blog is titled the Wicked Writing Blog and it hosts guest posts every week from every best-selling author who is not ashamed to show their face there.

He lives in central England with his wife Celia, a dynasty of children and a tortoise. His passions include Jacobean literature, heirloom vegetable gardening and antique wines.


About Dianne Ascroft

I'm a Canadian writer and author, living in Britain. My first novel, 'Hitler and Mars Bars' was released in March 2008. More information abo
This entry was posted in April 2015 and tagged , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s