A Masterpiece of Corruption
As a huge fan of Tyler’s Ethelred and Elsie series, I was very happy to receive this to review and even happier that I was not disappointed. It is the second in the historical series featuring John Grey, and it is set during the time of Cromwell’s Protectorate. The first one in the series is A Cruel Necessity and the third, Pestilence, are both on my to-read list already. It is not essential to have read the first although it may well enhance the reading experience of the second.
Tyler’s trademark style is evident throughout with humour, tension and a not particularly admirable hero. Grey is certainly not a traditional military or James Bond spy figure, as he gets himself into all sorts of trouble and struggles to remember what lies he has told to which person. His main motive is self-preservation, and this can be difficult in a precarious world where loyalties, politics and religion are divisive and dangerous.
The novel begins with a case of mistaken identity, and Grey quickly becomes embroiled in both Royalist and Commonwealth spy plots. Characters from real life play a vital role, and the author includes an author’s note to be clear about any liberties taken with the events. Readers may well become as confused as Grey with the complicated plots and double or triple-dealing, but they will enjoy the journey a lot more than he does. Being a spy is not the easiest of jobs. Thoroughly enjoyable and very much recommended.