The Jacobite Murders
According to the back cover blurb G M Best has received good reviews for his previous books, and it is true that the premise of mixing his own fictional characters with well-known fictional characters and their creators along with other historical people is intriguing. Consequently, I started this book with high hopes. Unfortunately, they weren’t met.
Set in 1745, in Bath, it is the story of how Tom Jones (yes, Fielding’s Tom Jones) stops the advance on London by the Jacobites. He is able to do this because of the murders that occur in the rented home of Lady Overbury, the unravelling of which leads to Tom taking a false message to the Jacobite camp.
There are errors: the housekeeper is called Miss Grey – housekeepers in this period were given the honorific Mrs, whether married or not. Then there is Sir Robert Benson, who is the father of Lord Kearsley, but how the son has a higher title than the father is not explained, though to be fair, Sir Robert is also called Lord Robert occasionally and referred to as ‘my lord’ once or twice.
But the real problem with the book is the info dumping. Although the fictional and non-fictional strands are well intertwined, the Jacobite plot gets lost in the tedious perorations. Characters tell other characters either things they would already know, or give them information they would not have done in real life, in long paragraphs; conversations are stilted, and sometimes full of historical information that would be interesting in another format, but which just holds up the story, for example, when Beau Nash tells Lady Overbury, as a newcomer to Bath, the history of the town.