The Bear Pit
S.G. MacLean’s latest addition to the Captain Damien Seeker series sees our grumpy, reluctant hero investigate the death of a man apparently mauled by a bear in a London cellar while also trying to uncover a plot to assassinate the Lord Protector. Seeker spends his days and nights chasing down suspected plotters and managing his growing network of spies and informers. The trail leads Seeker to the illegal dog fighting dens of Southwark and connections to the high and low of London society.
MacLean is a writer of immense talent who seems to be getting better with each book. The sights, sounds and smells of 17th-century London are brought vividly to life, and the author’s gift for creating varied and interesting characters make this a genuinely gripping historical mystery. The growing narrative focus on Sir Thomas, Laurence and Maria all add to the depth and richness of MacLean’s world-building skill. The fact that the book is also peopled with a variety of real figures who loomed large in the society of 1650s London adds to its appeal. While the book is part of a series, it could be read as a standalone mystery, though I would urge anyone who enjoys the work of P.F. Chisholm, Andrew Taylor or Ambrose Parry to seek out the novels of S.G. MacLean; you won’t be disappointed.