A Murder on London Bridge

Written by Susanna Gregory
Review by Sarah Cuthbertson

It’s 1664 in this latest Thomas Chaloner adventure set in Restoration London, and Lord Chancellor Clarendon, fearing rebellion, sends his spy Chaloner to investigate a murder on London Bridge. Chaloner suspects the murder is linked to a rebel band whose aim is to reinstate Puritanism but when his sleuthing leads him to Somerset House, home of Charles I’s widow Henrietta Maria, he discovers that the Dowager Queen is backing a faction wanting to restore the old Catholic faith. As rumours swirl about the coffee houses and omens, both ghostly and ghastly, are reported, Chaloner realises that revolution is already afoot and that he has only a matter of days to thwart an explosive plot whose mysterious centre lies amongst the ramshackle medieval buildings that crowd the city’s only river crossing.

This is an entertaining historical mystery that’s good on pace and period detail, but I felt the author’s historical note, which carefully separates the real characters from the fictional, should also have made it clear whether or not the politico-religious plotting at the heart of the story actually happened or even whether it was plausible. A brief internet search and a distinct whiff of over-the-topness suggest it didn’t and wasn’t. But who knows? It’s a mystery that left this reader feeling rather cheated.