Saturday, March 28, 2009

The Westminster Poisoner by Susanna Gregory

Christmas 1663. The winds are howling and the weather is bleak. There is an old wives tale that when the wind is blowing a gale it is a sign that an important person will die. So far two important clerks have been found dead, fanning the flames of this tale. Chaloner is put on the case by the Lord Chancellor, alongside Colonel Turner, a dandy with an eye for the ladies. The clerks have been poisoned and the Chancellor already has a suspect, another clerk called Greene. Chaloner is reluctant to agree and sets out to prove Greene's innocence. In addition to this, Chaloner and Turner are given the task of finding out who stole the famous Bernini sculpture of the King. As if that wasn't enough the Chancellor decides he will only retain the services of one of the men, therefore turning both cases into a competition between Turner and Chaloner. Determined to retain his post, under threat from the King's chief of spies and trying to protect his master from this season's Lord of Misrule, Chaloner has his hands full.

This fourth installment of the Chaloner series was another good addition to her historical mystery books. Set in the years shortly following the Restoration, it captures very well the excesses and fears of the time. As those who have read Susanna Gregory books know the main facts in the book tend to be historically accurate, with the details of these and her research provided at the end of the book.

Whilst possible not as fast paced as previous escapades it certainly has it's moments. Chaloner's famous hat comes in very handy! The character of Chaloner is further developed in this book, along with his relationships with others. He is finally beginning to try and fit in in this Restoration world. There is even a mention that he has taken to using his real name rather than covering it up as his uncle was one of those who signed Charles I death warrant. He has even started a promising relationship with one of the Queen's serving women. There are reminders throughout the book though about trusting everyone which includes a bit of a twist at the end of the book that I really didn't see coming. There are many new characters to replace those that have left such as Leybourn, who played a significant role in 'The Butcher of Smithfield' and those who appear less, such as Thurloe.

I did enjoy this book very much and whilst there probably were not quite as many twists and turns and revelations as the previous installment in this series it was certainly a good read.

*4 stars*

Other books by Susanna Gregory include:
*A Conspiracy of Violence: First book in the Thomas Chaloner series
*Blood on the Strand: Second book in the Thomas Chaloner series
*The Butcher of Smithfield: Third book in the Thomas Chaloner series

1 comment:

JohnH985 said...

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