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cheltonian books {BOOK CLUB} By reviewerAndria Saxelby The Ashes of London by Andrew Taylor


In favouring the ever-popular modern day genre of crime busting detective teams, television has been somewhat lacking of late in its provision of period dramas. If you are likeme, and have an interest in the combination of the two, you needn’t go any further than your local booksellers,where youwill find an abundance of historical thrillers to chose from. This particularmurdermystery is


set in the aftermath of theGreat Fire Of London, in 1666: a period of great political unrest, involving the failed Commonwealth and the restoration of theMonarchy. The Puritans have grown older but still thirst for the downfall of their King in order to pave theway for their own chosen leader, namelyCromwell. There are two stories running


parallel throughout this novel, one of the narrator, JamesMarwood and the other ofCatherine Lovett. James is themain protagonist,who tells his story in first person.He’s the son of a FifthMonarchistwho has recently been released fromthe Tower.Cat’s story is told in third person. She is the daughter of a regicidewhowas involved in the execution of King Charles I, and has been on the run since the restoration of the monarchy. When aman’s body is found in the


ashes of St. Paul’sCathedral, stabbedwith hands bound behind


24 JUNE 2017 THECHELTONIAN


his back, it’s evident he is a victimof foul play and not the fire. Marwood is given the job of investigating the murder in his capacity as a government official and in light of the tainted reputation of his father’s recent imprisonment, has good reason to fear for his safety. Asmore deaths come to light, it


becomes increasingly likely thatCat is in someway connected and Marwood’s job is to uncover the truth before it buries him.Marlow’s investigation takes you fromthe


ruins of the fire to the squalid backstreets of London, through to some of thewealthiest establishments, including the elitist court ofCharles II. There are realistic


depictions of London, whichwill help you to conjure up the images, sounds and smells from the time. The historical elements are nicely woven in to the story and although the political aspects, social degradation and the plight ofwomen feature throughout, this is definitely a story set in historical surroundings where the characters and not history take


centre stage. Itwill however,wet your appetite enough towant to explore more around this fascinating period. Whilst the beginning is a little slow


at taking off, and the switching from first to third person can be a little confusing at times, I amglad that I persevered.When themurder investigation,which is central to the plot, gets going, there is plenty of tension, intrigue, and twists to keep you interested right to the end. Don’t be put off by the amount of pages….give it a try!


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