1664. There is an electric air of foreboding on the streets of London. An atmosphere Thomas Chaloner fears will only take a small spark to ignite into another civil war. . .
The fifth adventure in the Thomas Chaloner series
Thomas Chaloner has forged a living as spy to the Lord Chancellor, the Earl of Clarendon, since the early days of the Restoration. Now, in February 1664, he is aware of an undercurrent of restlessness on the streets of London. The coffee houses are thick with rumours. There is anger at the new laws governing church attendance and a deepening contempt for the loucheness of the court. And there is murder.
The infamous church-smasher Dick Culmer is killed among the tottering, ramshackle buildings of London Bridge and Chaloner's investigations into the death link Culmer to a group of puritan conspirators. Further west, in the opulence of Somerset House and in the Palace of White Hall, Chaloner gradually realises that the ring-leaders of a rebellion are planning an explosive climax to achieve their goals. Desperately racing against time, Chaloner is determined to thwart them - as determined as they are to prevent him revealing their true intentions ...
Set in 1664, Gregory's exciting, intrigue-filled fifth mystery featuring English spy Thomas Chaloner (after 2009's The Westminster Poisoner) reinforces this British author's place in the front rank of those penning historicals in the genre. On the orders of the earl of Clarendon, Chaloner follows the Rev. Richard "Blue Dick" Culmer, who may be connected with political turmoil that threatens the recently restored monarchy, through the streets of London. When a cloaked man stabs Culmer to death on London Bridge, Chaloner tracks the assassin to a church, where he sees the killer confer with other masked men. The villains all get away before the secret agent can identify them. Meanwhile, Chaloner must also figure out why Jane Scarlet, the wife of a junior warden, was raped, and how these violent acts relate to discontent over the Clarendon Code, unpopular restrictions on religious freedom passed by Parliament. A dash of humor complements the fast-paced investigating.