Superspy of Restoration London, Thomas Chaloner foils an uprising in his eighth outing
Five years after Charles II's triumphant return to London there is growing mistrust of his extravagant court and of corruption among his officials - and when a cart laden with gunpowder explodes outside the General Letter Office, it is immediately clear that such an act is more than an expression of outrage at the inefficiency of the postal service.
As intelligencer to the Lord Chamberlain, Thomas Chaloner cannot understand why a man of known incompetence is put in charge of investigating the attack while he is diverted to make enquiries about the poisoning of birds in the King's aviary in St James's Park. Then human rather than avian victims are poisoned, and Chaloner knows he has to ignore his master's instructions and use his own considerable wits to defeat an enemy whose deadly tentacles reach into the very heart of the government: an enemy who has the power and expertise to destroy anyone who stands in the way ...
Gregory has never been better than in this stellar eighth novel featuring 17th-century spy Thomas Chaloner (after The Piccadilly Plot). Chaloner is on the outs with his boss, the Earl of Clarendon, who serves the crown as Lord Chancellor; the earl, mourning the loss of his son, has appointed someone else to perform his duties. With rumors of endemic corruption in the Post Office and heightened political tension roiling the capital, Chaloner is shunted away from the main action and assigned to investigate the killing of the King's birds in St James's Park. The animals were poisoned by an extremely potent toxin and the intelligencer's probe ends up overlapping with areas out of his jurisdiction. Things heat up after the alert secret agent notices an abandoned cart full of valuable wood near the Post Office, and manages to shout a warning moments before it explodes saving many lives, and adding another mystery for him to solve. Intrigue, detection, and action are blended perfectly with plot elements drawn from historical details that make the era come to life.