A body is discovered in the wrong place. A murder is worrying at any time, but in the turmoil of 1667 in the court of Charles II it is inconvenient too; further death is likely to follow. The King’s Evilis third in Andrew Taylor’s ‘Fire of London’ series. As London rises from the smoldering ruins of the fire, government administrator turned investigator James Marwood is called yet again to do the king’s secret bidding… to move the body somewhere less inflammatory.
Wondering why he gets into these situations, Marwood must find away to get through the following days without being murdered, by one side or the other. Complicating matters is that the man murdered is Edward Alderley, the nasty cousin of Cat Lovett who was forced to flee the dangerous Alderley in The Ashes of London. Marwood, unable to forget the fact that Cat has a very good reason for wishing her cousin dead, sets out to identify the real murderer. Complicating things are the obtuse instructions of royal insider Mr Chiffinch; the tensions at court between the King’s brother, the Duke of York, and the Duke of Buckingham; and the sensuous but manipulative Lady Quincy.
The King’s Evil gains an extra star from me for the return of Cat. Though the plotting at times threatened to head up a dead end street, Taylor pulled it around again. At times I wondered when the ‘threat to the royal family’ would become evident. Marwood is sent on errands by the tight-lipped Mr Chiffinch and the waters are often muddied. Only in the last few chapters does the significance of small events at the beginning of the book become clear.
All three books in this series have fascinated me, this is a historical period about which I shamefully know little. Taylor has the uncanny ability to write fast-moving stories with period detail, showing wounded London re-emerging as scaffolding climbs into the sky, a believable place with traces of today’s city.
Is this the last of a trilogy, or the third of a series? I don’t know.
If you like this, try:-
‘Dissolution’ by CJ Sansom
‘The Quick’ by Lauren Owen
‘Rush Oh!’ by Shirley Barrett
THE KING’S EVIL by @AndrewJRTaylor #bookreview via @SandraDanby