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    Gripping historical intrigue

    A friend of mine recently recommended this series as he knows I enjoy the C.J. Sansom Shardlake series so when I saw this ARC available for request on NetGalley I immediately clicked the button. Despite not having read the first three books I found it quite easy to follow the plot which relates to Charles II, the Duke of Buckingham and Richard Cromwell (son of Oliver and the Last Protector of the title). Our hero/detective James Marwood is occasionally required to act as a spy for the King. His master, Joseph Williamson, the Under Secretary of State to Lord Arlington and Lord Arlington are desperate to find evidence (cough, manufacture) against the Duke of Buckingham and send James to spy on a duel between Buckingham and Lord Shrewsbury, which leaves one man dead and Lord Shrewsbury seriously injured. Our heroine, Cat Hakesby, is married to an elderly architect and seems to be prospering when she runs across an old acquaintance, Elizabeth Cromwell, a meeting which turns out to be anything but coincidental. Drawn against her will into intrigue involving her husband, Buckingham and the Cromwells, Cat's world collides with James' (and not for the first time I understand). Based on certain historical facts Andrew Taylor has woven a gripping tale of plots, favours and the sheer wretchedness of life for women, servants and the underclass. Learn about the Bawdy House riots, the half-life of the last Protector, the mazer-scourers, and how absolutely foul people can be to others. A cracking read, I will get the previous books and read them shortly! I received a free copy of this book from the publisher via NetGalley in return for an honest review.

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