The Piccadilly Plot

Written by Susanna Gregory
Review by Audrey Braver

Thomas Chaloner finds himself recalled by his employer from an investigation into corruption in Tangier without the opportunity for a satisfactory conclusion to the case, because there have been some thefts from the building site of his new mansion. The Earl of Clarendon is not an easy employer, particularly as he continually re-directs Chaloner to explore other avenues at his whim, often wasting precious time on trivialities. With two rival groups, the Piccadilly Company and the Adventurers, vying with each other to gain the greatest share from overseas trade, the possibilities for corruption are endless. As ever, Gregory leads us vigorously through this historic period, tumbling from one close shave to an equally challenging situation with our sleuth thwarted at every turn as the crimes proliferate.

To compound his difficulties since his marriage to Hannah, Thomas has not been around for long enough to establish his role, leading to trouble when staff insubordination or recruitment occurs. Indeed he wonders if his marriage partner is compatible with him or his lifestyle, especially as he has to retain his bolt hole to practise his viol in peace. As the tension mounts, Chaloner strives to bring the threads together, sharing information with Spymaster Williamson as the crisis reaches its peak and combining with his old friend John Thurloe to achieve a satisfactory resolution.