Susanna Gregory, author of the Matthew Bartholomew series of medieval mysteries, has created another compelling fictional detective set in Restoration London.
The fourth adventure in the Thomas Chaloner series.
Christopher Vine, a Treasury clerk working in solitary piety in the Painted Chamber of the Palace of Westminster, is not alone. A killer waits in the draughty hall to ensure Vine will not live to see in the New Year.
And Vine is not the only government official to die that season. The Lord Chancellor fears his enemies will skew any investigation to cause him maximum damage, so he decides to commission his own inquiries into the murders and, with his suspicions centred on Greene, another clerk, he instructs Thomas Chaloner to prove that Greene is the killer. Chaloner can prove otherwise, but unravelling the reasons behind his employer's suspicions is as complex as discovering the motives for the killings. His search for the real murderer plunges him into a stinking seam of corruption that leads towards the Royal apartments and to people determined to make Christmas 1663 Chaloner's last . . .
'Pungent with historical detail' (Irish Times)
'A richly imagined world of colourful medieval society and irresistible monkish sleuthing' (Good Book Guide)
'Corpses a-plenty, exciting action sequences and a satisfying ending' (Mystery People)
Gregory's excellent fourth Thomas Chaloner adventure set in Restoration London (after 2008's The Butcher of Smithfield) effortlessly blends authentic historical details with plenty of red herrings. Chaloner, the chief spy for England's Lord Chancellor, the earl of Clarendon, is on uncertain ground because of his past support for Oliver Cromwell. The earl increases the pressure by giving Chaloner a tight deadline to solve a series of poisonings that have claimed the lives of two government clerks. Convinced that another clerk, Greene, is responsible, the earl orders Chaloner to prove Greene's guilt, despite the spy's misgivings. Gregory provides a number of false endings, a classic golden age of detection plot device rarely used these days, but which, in the hands of a skilled writer, makes every word count. Gregory is also the author of the Matthew Bartholomew series set in medieval Cambridge (The Devil's Disciples, etc.).