A Cruel Necessity

Written by L.C. Tyler
Review by Marilyn Sherlock

John Grey has returned to his native Suffolk from studying law at Cambridge. After an evening in the local pub he finds himself, very much the worse for wear, outside one of the village cottages. A horseman rides up and asks if Ben Bowman still owns the pub. On being assured that he does, the horseman throws John a shilling. When a body is discovered on the village dung heap the next morning, nobody believes John Grey’s story of the horseman he saw the previous night. When, later, he is warned that he is about to be accused of the murder, he flees to London and comes into contact with John Thurloe, Cromwell’s spymaster.

So begins a tale of mystery and intrigue in 1657. Cromwell’s austere rule has closed the theatres, cancelled Christmas and forbade the maypoles and May Day celebrations so that stirrings of rebellion are in the air and plots to restore King Charles II to the throne are rife. The story twists and turns, and I thought that I had picked up all the clues and solved the mystery but no; the final twist caught me totally by surprise. The characterisation is good, it is well-paced and the plot fits in beautifully with the historical events of the day. I thoroughly enjoyed it and will look out for this author again.