About the Book
LONDON, 1590. Queen Elizabeth I’s control over her kingdom is wavering. Amidst a tumultuous backdrop of Spanish plotters, Catholic heretics and foreign wars threatening the country’s fragile stability, the body of a small boy is found in the City of London, with strange marks that no one can explain.
When idealistic physician Nicholas Shelby finds another body displaying the same marks only days later, he becomes convinced that a killer is at work, preying on the weak and destitute of London.
Determined to find out who is behind these terrible murders, Nicholas is joined in his investigations by Bianca, a mysterious tavern keeper. As more bodies are discovered, the pair find themselves caught in the middle of a sinister plot. With the killer still at large, and Bianca in terrible danger, Nicholas’s choice seems impossible – to save Bianca, or save himself…
With thanks to the publisher for the copy received. My two favourite genres are crime and historical fiction, particularly from the Tudor period so this novel ticked all of the boxes. When I have read novels from this period they have mostly been set in and around the courts and palaces. This novel is unique with it being set in the less affluent areas of London, in this case Bankside which is in Southwark. This is an area whose inhabitants live in poverty, some are diseased and their entertainment is the bear pits and the hostelries in the area. They live in fear of being charged with heresy or being branded for a crime. When people from their community are found in the river, all with similar wounds they are regarded as unimportant and the ones who have the power are just happy that the victims are not from their own class.
It is fascinating to read. I felt like I was read a true reflection of what it was like to live at this time. The differences between Bankside and Nonsuch Palace were extreme. The attitudes to women and what their choices in life would be. There was no chance at all of women working in medicine, and the chances were that any woman who could help people who were suffering with illness would be regarded with scepticism. I found it very interesting reading the thoughts about how the human body worked. And how some wouldn’t accept any other explanation.
The small part of the novel that involved the torture chamber was just enough.I think if there had been more it would have less of an impact. The poignant touch made it more real, combined with the violence that preceded it. I liked Nicholas, Bianca and Ned a lot. If this is the first book in a new series I will be keen to get to know them all more. And understand more about what it was to live in these times.
It was one of those novels where I spent a lot of time looking on the internet for more information. Or in the kindle dictionary at the various foods, drink and herbal remedies. I also spent time looking at Bankside, an area I never knew existed.
A brilliant debut novel, I’m looking forward to more by this author.