Birthright

Written by David Hingley
Review by Chiara Prezzavento

In 1664 London, young widow Mercia Blake’s world is shattered when her Parliamentarian father is belatedly condemned to the scaffold, her evil uncle evicts her from the family’s manor house, and her dead husband’s parents try to take away her young son. Nobody’s fool, Mercia quickly realizes that her father is a victim to greed and vengeance, and that his last words contain her key to restore her family’s fortunes. Her only hope is to gain the King’s gratitude by recovering a collection of paintings presumed lost after Worcester. With the help of an old friend and suitor, and of a young sailor with a chequered past, can Mercia find the paintings before whoever stole them gets to her?

With an interesting premise (art theft isn’t quite the usual fare for historical sleuths), Birthright could have greatly benefited from a less anachronistic depiction of Restoration social mores. I doubt a common sailor would be on a first-name basis with a lady from the gentry who, in turn, addresses the King as “you”. Entertaining enough, but a disappointment on the historical side.