Book - 2014
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Five years after his restoration to the throne, Charles II leads his citizens by example, enjoying every excess. Londoners have slipped the shackles of puritanism and now flock to the cockpits, brothels and, especially, the theatres, where for the first time women are allowed to perform alongside the men. But not everyone is swept up in the excitement. Some see this liberated age as the new Babylon, and murder victims pile up in the streets, making no distinction in class between a royalist member of parliament and a Cheapside whore. But they have a few things in common: the victims are found with gemstones in their mouths. And they have not just been murdered; they've been . . . sacrificed. Now, the plague is returning to the city with full force, attacking indiscriminately . . . and murder has found a new friend.
Publisher: Toronto : Doubleday Canada, c2014.
ISBN: 9780385679923
Characteristics: 362 p. : maps ; 25 cm


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Aug 26, 2020

Excellent novel. Plague historical England, a dashing highway man who vomits at the sight of gore and doesn't put shot in his pistol. damsels in distress. This is not for the faint of heart, pretty gruesome in some places. 5 stars

Dec 05, 2016

As a depiction of the squalor of 17th century London, this one probably has few equals. It was a time of urbanization in the absence of infrastructure; medical practice in the absence of even rudimentary knowledge; and law enforcement in the absence of a trained, dedicated police force or judicial system. Restoration England is still trying to recover from its civil war; much of the populace lives on the brink of starvation while the King and his court stagger from one hedonistic brawl to another. In this setting, during an outbreak of the plague we have a story of murder, religious fanaticism and a constabulary that depends on bounty hunting for its livelihood.
A colorful, exciting, fast read but: Not for the squeamish.

Apr 24, 2016

Fascinating and interesting book. The con is that the ending is a little bit cliche.

Apr 10, 2016

A great exploration of gritty London. Likable characters and a twisty plot.

Mar 23, 2015

A great read. Never disappointed in whatever this author has written

Mar 15, 2015

A excellent read.
No regrets here

DanniOcean Aug 12, 2014

reviewed in the Stratford Gzette, Aug 2014


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DanniOcean Aug 12, 2014

It is Restoration England, with a hedonistic King Charles II on the throne. The playhouses have re-opened and for the first time women are allowed to grace the stages. Highwaymen are popularized in romantic ballads, and men are employed as thief-takers to hunt them down. Religious fanatics meet in secret to hatch anti-monarchist plots, and a pestilence strikes fear into the heart of London’s meaner neighbourhoods, as houses are shut up with their occupants still inside to prevent its spread. However, there is a more menacing plague that stalks the streets –a murderer is on the loose, and the manner in which he leaves his victims is nothing short of barbaric.

It is the luck of the highwayman Captain Coke that he happens upon three such victims shortly after their demise, and in his haste to leave the scene he leaves one of his pistols behind. It is found by one Mr. Pitman, a thief-taker who has been on the Captain’s trail for some time, and as he closes in on his quarry, the Captain decides to leave London at once – but not before paying a visit to the actress Lucy Absolute, whose brother was the Captain’s comrade in arms during the English Civil War. Lucy has an errand for him, one that puts him in the path of Sarah Chalker, another actress whose husband is missing. Captain Coke undertakes to help her find him, and find him he does – unfortunately. But before he can give Sarah the bad news he is caught by Pitman – who believes the Captain is also the murderer. Coke manages to make him doubt this, and they begin a tenuous partnership to find the real killer before he strikes again.

Rife with the fast-paced action and the little historic details that really transport a reader, C.C. Humphrey’s latest novel is a thrilling swashbuckling adventure – like Raphael Sabatini’s novels, but with a little more swagger.

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