Friday 2 January 2015

Plague - C.C. Humphreys

Rather a good read here that reminded me of the Edward Marston Nick Bracewell crime mysteries. It's 1665 in London, a city that is still only starting to recover after decades of civil war and religious extremism during the Commonwealth. Many are still suffering from the trauma caused by their experiences and losses. As outbreaks of plague start to appear accross the city, death is stalking in an even more disturbing way as a series of horrific murders are committed.
 This novel has some really well written, convincing characters who help bring the novel to life. We have a handful of historic figures, King Charles assorted mistresses, and a young John Wilmot, feature alongside the central cast and these well known characters are also brilliantly done. The central storyline is satisfyingly mysterious and deeply grusome at times, with plenty of twists and turns. It's unusual for a 'cosy' period murder mystery to provide so much gore; with a damaged and psychotic murderer on the loose in London there really is a lot of blood and guts about here. The murderer is driven by a religious mania and a belief that the end of days in almost upon the world, a belief that is given added weight as plague breaks out across the city of London. The depiction of the damage done to society and to the mental state of individuals by the turmoil of the Civil War, is very well done indeed. Highly believable and interesting characters add depth to the story. The twist as to the identity of the murderer is nicely timed to add to the story. It was also nice to see a few famous faces thrown into the character list, each of these is nicely written in a believable way, and their interaction with the other, purely fictional characters is written seamlessly. It was nice to read a restoration crime mystery that managed to combine some disturbing murders with the usual restoration sex scenes.

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