In 1652 a wounded man wakes up under a tree with weapons and a horse nearby. He is consumed by the need to avenge the murder, in 1648, of Colonel Thomas Rainsborough by a mixed group of Cavaliers and Parliamentarians. As they rode away, the cry was heard, ‘Farewell, Rainsborough! Farewell, Cavaliers!’
The man goes by the name of Colonel Thomas Darke. He begins his quest by working his way through the lower ranks of the perpetrators, but always in pursuit of the last mystery – the name of the high-ranking official who ordered the assassination. His journey takes him to London, and to the notice of Alice Hull, a widow and a cloth merchant. Darke takes lodgings with the family, and is increasingly drawn to Alice, although she blames Rainsborough for the death of her husband. Enquiries prove Darke is not who he says he is and there never was a colonel of that name. Alice is troubled by his apparent lies, not least because she believes she has seen him before while her husband was alive. One thing is clear though – he knows London very well indeed…
A ghost story, a romance, and a quest for vengeance; this is a novel based on fact. Rainsborough was found murdered, and the cry of ‘Farewell, Cavaliers!’ was reportedly heard. The behaviour of Parliament and of the major figures is faithful to the historical record, but in places the political manoeuvrings and those of various religious groups seem unnecessarily detailed. The result is loss of pace, but this is a good read and although the second of a trilogy it stands alone. It is recommended that the reader should have some prior knowledge of the history of the Civil War and the political aftermath, though, in order to understand certain references and Cromwell’s actions.