Murder on High Holborn
In 1665, the restored monarchy is still in its infancy and not unanimously popular. Rebellious groups and sects abound, including the Northern Plot. This draws much attention, as its membership is large, but it is foiled and many people arrested, including one William Leving. He is allowed to escape, provided he help track down other dissidents, and moves to London. Meanwhile, one of the largest ships in the English Navy blows up in the Thames, killing almost everyone on board. The Dutch are threatening invasion, so was the sinking an accident or sabotage? Add the murder of Paul Ferine in a brothel patronised by some of the highest in the land, including Prince Rupert, and the emergence of another rebellious group known as the Fifth Monarchists, and there is more than enough unrest for Thomas Chaloner, in the pay of Joseph Williamson and head of the Intelligence Service, to be called in to investigate.
We all know of Charles II, his extravagant and fun-loving court, Nell Gwynn, Pepys, the plague and the Fire of London, but this is a story involving another side to the period of which I knew nothing. It weaves in and out of the historical facts, carefully linking real people with the fictitious, and the pace is reasonably good. More murders occur, and more plots are hatched, but eventually all is resolved.
I regret that I find this author’s novels heavy going at times. There are frequent qualifying clauses to her sentences, giving needless reminders of what has gone before, and the language can become stilted, presumably in an effort to reproduce the speech of the day. However, it is an intriguing story, and on the whole I enjoyed it.