'A marvellous romp' The Times
'The clash of blades, the whizzing bullets and galloping hooves guarantee nonstop adventure' Literary Review
In May 1671, Colonel Blood became the only person ever to steal the Crown Jewels from the Tower of London. How did he succeed? Why did King Charles II decide to pardon him, and hire him as his personal spy?
In a page-turning narrative that reads like a thriller, Robert Hutchinson tells the compelling story of Colonel Blood: turncoat, fugitive, double agent - and the most wanted man in Restoration England.
British historian Hutchinson (Young Henry) successfully describes how phenomenal self-preservation instincts and a highly unstable royal court allowed a man who stole the crown to become a royal spy. After the upheaval surrounding the 1660 restoration of Charles II cost the Blood family their Irish land, Thomas Blood, a former parliamentary soldier, channeled his bitterness into a long career of trying to recapture his holdings, or barring that, to cause financial and emotional damage to the king. Hutchinson relishes detailing Blood's motivation and the unlikely adventures that boosted his popularity while also deciphering his elastic personal ethics. Blood's personality is largely conveyed through his close relationships with his children as well as his dedication to heightening his reputation, which resulted in popular songs and poems being composed about him. The book's highlight is the well-planned, if comically implemented, heist of the crown jewels. Hutchinson's story operates more as a series of vignettes than as a fully fleshed-out biography, but Blood's remarkable tenacity shines through, illuminating a surprisingly efficient official spy ring and a wealth of other dark secrets behind the flamboyant and seemingly carefree court of the Merry Monarch. Illus.