Death of a Radical
It’s 1812 and Raif Jarrett, agent to the Duke of Penrith, awaits a visit from his cousin. Favian is an aspiring poet who has been sent down from school for a childish prank. The Easter fairs open in the Durham village of Woolbridge, and the local magistrate warns Raif that radicals plan to cause a disturbance. Weavers, replaced by machines, are out of work and angry. Favian involves himself in the weavers’ cause. When a visiting salesman is found dead, Raif suspects murder, a murder that is part of a plot that involves government contracts and sinister spies. Raif scrambles to protect his cousin and an innocent man who is set up to take the blame for further murders.
The author’s strength is her characters, which are boldly described and nuanced in a few sentences. Village life and workmen’s speech patterns are authentically portrayed. You feel the mud and ice the people trudge through. Many scenes start with pronouns, which can get confusing with so many characters. Dialog mixed with another person’s actions is also distracting. It’s a shame the book cover—a lady in a strapless gown—has nothing to do with the story or era.