Intrigue in Covent Garden (Adventures of Thomas Chaloner)

Written by Susanna Gregory
Review by Marilyn Sherlock

We are in the year 1665. Plague is still haunting London, and King Charles I, with all his court, plus anyone else rich enough to be able to do so, has left London for the safer countryside. England is at war with the Dutch, and spies are spying on spies. As the year turns to 1666 and the plague at last begins to disappear, plans are afoot for the King to return to Whitehall after Christmas, involving great expense at a time when it was claimed that the country was virtually bankrupt, and men could not be paid the wages owed to them. Thomas Chaloner, employed by the Earl of Clarendon, is called in to investigate several mysteries including mysterious deaths, the sinking of one of the British ships, and the growing unrest towards the King for paying more attention to pleasure at court than the needs of his subjects.

This book, the 13th in the popular Thomas Chaloner series, lives up to its reputation. It focuses on several events that took place in 1666, including the war with Holland (or The United Provinces as they were then known). This was an event in the 17th century that I didn’t know too much about but learned much in following Thomas’ career. The plot twists and turns, the fictitious characters indistinguishably merge with the real people of the time, and the various threads of the story cross and re-cross – deliberately confusing! Susanna Gregory always knows her subject and does her research thoroughly, and it was a pleasure to read of events of this time other than the Plague and the Great Fire which, obviously, has yet to happen. I have met Thomas Chaloner before and so looked forward to reading this latest adventure. I was not disappointed.