The Audacious Crimes of Colonel Blood

Written by Robert Hutchinson
Review by Gordon O'Sullivan

This is the truly astonishing story of one man and his many adventures. The 17th-century soldier and spy Colonel Thomas Blood is perhaps most famous for his attempt to steal the Crown Jewels from the Tower of London, but it was only one incident in his action-packed and stranger-than-fiction life. Blood fought for both sides in the English Civil War, was a double agent, an assassin, a conspirator and latterly, a political hack for hire.

Popular historian Robert Hutchinson has written this book as part biography and part quest novel, such are Blood’s adventures and the vividness with which the author narrates them. In this carefully researched book which uses primary sources skilfully, Hutchinson succeeds in producing a rounded portrayal of a bold and fascinating man. He doesn’t, however, shy away from his subject’s unattractive personality. Blood’s whole life was driven by his thirst for revenge for perceived slights to his honour or his ambitions. The Restoration period is also brought expertly to life by Hutchinson creating a context which partly explains the exploits of Colonel Blood, a man that was as much of his time as the Merry Monarch.