After the Fire

Written by John Pilkington
Review by Ann Northfield

Set in London, 1670, four years after the Great Fire which destroyed so much of the city, this novel follows the fortunes and amateur investigations of actress Betsy Brand. The mysterious deaths of several men connected with the theatre, enforcing its closure due to the scandal, inspires Betsy to set about finding the killer and solving the puzzle of how they were killed and why, with a little help from her amiable landlord and doctor, Tom Catlin.

There are several inventive and amusing scenes involving elaborate disguises and an unusual filling in a pie and while not particularly believable, the action rattles along at a good pace and certainly provides entertainment. The historical setting is conveyed more with the odd words used such as ‘buffle-head’ and ‘molly- men’ rather than detailed description and the heroine is remarkably modern in her outlook and behaviour. While unlikely to set the world on fire (sorry for the pun), this novel tells a good yarn. Characterisation and setting are somewhat thin but on the whole I enjoyed the tale.