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  • Fascinating intrigue set in Charles II's court

    We return to late 1600s London, Charles II is on the throne and our detective hero Marwood is called in to investigate missing papers after a clerk to Lord Arlington dies in mysterious circumstances. Following the death of Cat's husband in the last book, Marwood and Cat have developed something more than a friendship but less than a romance, until Cat's latest commission brings her into conflict with Marwood. If you like C.J. Sansom then I think you'll like this series. Marwood is a man of his time, which can make for uncomfortable reading for the 21st century reader, the uneasy balance that people had to maintain in order to retain their jobs seems so alien to this reader, to be employed at the whim of a capricious nobleman seems so harsh and yet I suppose many live in similar circumstances today. These books are not for the faint-hearted, I'm not sure if they all share the in-depth interest in the toilets and sewers of this book and the last, but it feels authentic in all its brutality and squalor. I also found some scenes, especially those involving Marwood's slave Stephen, very difficult to read from a 21st century perspective. As we roam from the court of Charles II to Paris and the Kent coast there are plots and intrigues in abundance. I have to say that I have some questions about certain things that characters say towards the end. maybe I didn't truly understand their meaning but otherwise the plot hung together well and I could clearly see the trail of death and motives from start to finish. I was invited to read a free copy of this book by the publisher via NetGalley in return for an honest review.

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  • The Kings Secret

    Andrew Taylor is one of my favourite authors. He captures time and place perfectly. I could smell Smithfield Market and the lion's cage. His characters, even the protagonists, are far from perfect, but all the more interesting for that. This series moves along at a good pace, with interesting changes in locale and believable plot twists and turns.

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  • A slightly off kilter story

    I have really enjoyed the James Marwood and Cat Lovett books, but sense a little staleness in the writing of this one. First the blossoming relationship between Marwood and Lovett is fractured when a rival suitor steps in. he has ulterior motives. Then, through a series of interventions which are not very clear, Lovett travels to France in the protection of a clergyman and his wife. She is there to present to 'Madame' the drawings for an ornate hen house. (You can't make this stuff up, but Andrew Taylor has.) Of course there is the Kings hand at work, a failed marriage, and more than drawings are in the model of the henhouse that Lovett is carrying. Eventually, with Lovett's life at risk and a few fortuitous interventions Marwood saves the day. Is his relationship with Lovett back on? And who is the tragic victim of the sorry story? If you have read all of these books so far read it to find out.

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