The King’s Evil

Written by Andrew Taylor
Review by Susan McDuffie

London, 1667: A body is discovered drowned in a well on Lord Clarendon’s property. Clarendon, a close advisor of King Charles II, has recently fallen from favor, while the Duke of Buckingham’s star rises. James Marwood, clerk to the king’s assistant, is ordered to investigate, and eventually cover up, the murder. The victim is a cousin of James’s acquaintance Cat Lovett, and Cat has her own reasons to hate the man; in fact, Marwood heard Cat swear to kill him before she disappeared on the night of the crime. Despite this James feels Cat is innocent and works to find her and to clear her name, a task that could easily bring him into disfavor with the powerful men he serves. Other complications: the lovely and elusive Lady Quincy, a mysterious child afflicted with scrofula, and the theft of a silver box from Clarendon House.

Andrew Taylor writes masterfully, and this book pulls the reader into a vivid recreation of Restoration London. The rich and powerful, as well as the poor who serve them, spring to life. Taylor’s multi-faceted, complex characters sustain the reader’s interest, and so does his riveting plot. Disparate elements come together in the end to create a satisfying and thoroughly convincing read. The King’s Evil works well enough as a standalone. However, readers may well be tempted to seek out the two earlier books in this series for more insight into the main characters, and the pleasure of spending more time in Marwood’s company.

A compelling read, The King’s Evil will undoubtedly appeal to lovers of historical fiction and historical mysteries with some depth, and to those readers who appreciate excellent writing and well-fleshed characters. Highly recommended.