The King’s Evil

Written by Edward Marston
Review by pdr lindsay-salmon

The King’s Evil is a reprint of the first of the Christopher Redmayne novels published in 1999, a historical mystery series set in Restoration England. This is one of Edward Marston’s five historical series and each series has a devoted readership. Marston has a solid grip on his craft and all his books are well-written, well-researched and a most enjoyable read.

The King’s Evil sets the Redmayne series off with a cracking plot and two main characters who are delightfully mismatched. The novel begins with the Fire of London slowly taking hold, and Jonathon Bale, the strong minded, monarch-disapproving Puritan constable, at work defending his area from its ravages. Christopher Redmayne, the Dean of Oxford’s son, newly qualified architect, and supporter of the restored monarchy, arrives after the fire and hopes to rebuild a better, more beautiful London. The pair meet when hunting thieves stealing building materials from the house Redmayne designed, and when Redmayne’s employer is murdered they work together to catch the murderer.

It’s a nicely convoluted plot, guessing whodunit or whydunnit is not easy, and the ending leaves the reader looking for the next in the series, if only to see how poor Jonathon Bale copes now he has to work for the King. One of the joys of Marston’s novels is the light touch of humour and Bale and Redmayne reacting to each other can make a reader laugh out loud. Highly recommended.