The Royal Secret

Written by Andrew Taylor
Review by Karen Warren

Set in London in 1670, The Royal Secret is the fourth of Andrew Taylor’s novels featuring James Marwood and Cat Hakesby. Marwood is a clerk working at the centre of government, and Cat is – rather unusually for a woman at that time – an architect. They are thrown together again as a number of seemingly unrelated events point towards a greater intrigue. One of Marwood’s fellow clerks meets a violent end; Cat encounters a mysterious Dutchman; and a new commission takes her to the French court. As Marwood tries to investigate what turns out to be just one of a series of unexplained deaths he is led into increasing danger. And Cat has to decide whether to trust her Dutchman.

I have been reading this series with increasing pleasure. The writer includes enough period detail to evoke the times without weighing down the plot, and I got a real sense of the dirt and dangers of London, the dinginess of Dover, and the relative splendour of the French court. The story includes all of the secrets and intrigues that I have come to expect from Taylor’s work, and the slightly prickly relationship between Cat and Marwood is always enjoyable. A subplot gives us the perhaps not quite so innocent Maria, and there is the added bonus of a ferocious caged lion. Recommended for those who like a historical thriller, or for anyone in search of a good read. I couldn’t put it down.