The Parliament House

Written by Edward Marston
Review by Rachel A Hyde

Christopher Redmayne is feeling pleased with himself; his latest architectural project is finished and its merchant owner, Francis Polegate, is thrilled with it. He is invited along with his sweetheart, Susan Cheever, her father and various other assorted friends of Polegate’s to a housewarming party, but the celebration turns to tragedy when Polegate’s brother-in-law is killed. It looks as though the intended victim was actually firebrand politician Sir Julius Cheever, and Christopher is naturally keen to find out whodunit before Susan’s father is also murdered. It is time once again to enlist the help of his unlikely friend, the Puritan constable Jonathan Bale, and perhaps a little help too (or hindrance) from his ne’er-do-well brother Henry.

This is the fifth outing after a three-year break for the mismatched sleuths, and as usual Marston has written a sparkling tale seasoned with humour and period knowledge. To its detriment it is rather obvious that Edward Marston is a writer of radio plays (all those lines of dialogue), but there is a convincing ambience of a time when the Civil War was only a few years in the past. I think my favourite feature of this series has to be the similarity between the characters and the scrapes they get into (both amorous and bloody) with plays popular at the time. This is a period that few historical writers choose to portray, and reading this I wonder why, as there is so much to write about.