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The Royal Secret: The latest new historical crime thriller from the No 1 Sunday Times bestselling author (James Marwood & Cat Lovett, Book 5) Kindle Edition
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‘Beautifully crafted story’ Mystery and Suspense
Praise for The Last Protector:
‘Confirms his status as one of our finest writers of historical thrillers’ The Sunday Times
‘There is colour, violence, devotion, courage and fun here. What more could anyone ask of a crime novel?’ Literary Review
‘Taylor is on reliably good form in this fourth instalment of a series that effortlessly blends history and mystery.’ The Times
‘A teeming London (in the process of reconstruction after the Great Fire), political chicanery, duels, brothels, court manoeuvrings ― all are grist to Taylor’s imaginative mill’ The Financial Times
‘A brilliant historical novel about Cromwell… Riveting’ Evening Standard
‘Superb… Cat, especially, remains one of the most compelling, multifaceted characters in contemporary historical fiction’. Observer
‘Taylor’s fourth Marwood tale is gripping and rich in detail – 4.5 stars’ The Sun
‘Boasting political intrigue and evocative period atmosphere, The Last Protector is crime writing at its most elegant and assured’ Waterstones blog--This text refers to the hardcover edition.
The latest new historical crime thriller from the No 1 Sunday Times bestselling author--This text refers to the hardcover edition.
- ASIN : B08H7RQRNR
- Publisher : HarperCollins (April 29, 2021)
- Publication date : April 29, 2021
- Language : English
- File size : 1812 KB
- Text-to-Speech : Enabled
- Enhanced typesetting : Enabled
- X-Ray : Enabled
- Word Wise : Enabled
- Print length : 476 pages
- Page numbers source ISBN : 000832560X
- Lending : Not Enabled
- Best Sellers Rank: #98,185 in Kindle Store (See Top 100 in Kindle Store)
- Customer Reviews:
Top reviews from the United States
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Henryk Van Riebeeck, posing as a Dutch gentleman, is a first rate villain. A spy for the Dutch government, he is aware of negotiations between the English and French to form a treaty which would be harmful to Dutch interests. He will do whatever is necessary to derail the discussions which will include deception and murder. Van Riebeeck will attach himself to Cat; we never know whether he actually cares for her, or if he is more interested in the secret files she is taking to Dover. Perhaps both. Cat, herself, is an unsuspecting player in this charade set up by King Charles and his ministers to keep the treaty negotiations secret. As part of the scheme, the King's youngest sister has also commissioned an architectural project to ensure Cat's presence in Dover. It is reassuring to know that she still carries her dagger for protection.
Cat and James have not enjoyed their friendship of late and have had a rocky go of it. James is protective of Cat and is suspicious of Van Riebeeck's obvious influence on her. Cat, on the other hand, suspects that James is having an affair. But not to worry, before this story is over, the pair will enjoy a new intimacy in their relationship.
I found that the history and mystery of this story were clumsily cobbled together with a profusion of characters, several historical. Fortunately, the author does give us a list to help identify all, while also providing us with the history of the period in his notes. Missing were the usual touches of humor which I found in previous volumes. The exception, however, was the mangy lion, Caliban, who was either growling or busy devouring meat in his smelly cage.
Having said all of this - I did enjoy reading this latest in the series, although a bit pricey for the kindle.
Cat Hakesby carries on her late husband’s business as an architect and surveyor. She is commissioned to build a new poultry house for the king’s sister, which requires her to travel to France where the king’s sister resides.
James Marwood works at Scotland Yard when Richard Abbott, one of Lord Arlington’s clerks, dies. Marwood is set on an investigation of the circumstances surrounding Abbott’s death, and relates his findings to Lord Arlington, Undersecretary of State.
Meanwhile, Marwood and Cat meet once or twice a month to listen to music or go to a play or go for a walk in finer weather. It is an alliance of mutual assistance rather than affection as she prefers to keep her independence. After the end of last outing, they don’t make plans for the next time, as they usual would. That unsettles Marwood a bit. “She could forgive his unfortunate liking for low comedy, but not the way he had ogled the orange girl in front of her very eyes. (…) His boorish behaviour towards Mr Fanshawe and his guest had been almost equally bad.” Later, he extends his olive branch by writing her a letter with a plan to see a new play. She curtly expresses her refusal without any explanation. And now, it gnaws at him when he sees Cat with someone he is after.
There is one particular person at the heart of this mystery, but there is a lot of deception and some misjudgment, as well as complications. Besides one being dead, another vanishes, and yet another has a powerful friend. It presents some challenges for Marwood.
The characters come from different directions and as story develops they interestingly start coming together, as they happen to be related in some way. The plot is intriguing, culminating with a lot of intrigue and a royal secret unbeknownst to all. Written with marvelous prose sprinkled with humor, the characters come alive with their settings, vividly presented and giving a good sense of time and place. Beautifully crafted story and atmospheric in its depiction.
This fifth installment in the series reads as a stand-alone. With skillful writing, you can easily follow the characters, which drive this story to the culminating end.
Top reviews from other countries
It’s not a part of history that I’m completely familiar with so along with a fast paced gathering story I learnt some history too.
I would recommend this author highly but would suggest that people read the first book of this genre and then in sequence.
Although they are stand alone stories it helps to get all the characters in the right place and understand their back stories and how they progress.
It’s such a pity that it takes so long to write these wonderful books but then the nature of the tale will require lots of research and as readers we must be patient!
Definitely burnt the midnight oil!
This is the fifth in the series set in Restoration England. The King’s Secret refers to the Treaty of Dover of 1670 which tied Charles II to Louis XIV. Certain clauses in the terms were concealed and unknown for more than a century. A good subject to exercise our two protagonists, James Marwood and Cat Hakesby.
Cat’s architectural talents take her to France, allowing Taylor to describe the court of the Sun King. Back in London Marwood tracks his quarry, a Dutch spy, through rather less glamourous surroundings. Apart James and Cat continue to wonder what they mean to each other, especially now Cat is a widow. A subplot runs alongside international intrigue, concerning an embittered servant girl and a lion.
The wide cast includes many familiar to the reader – Marwood’s household servants and slave, his bosses in Whitehall, Cat’s colleague, Brennan, and her servant, Jane Ash. Taylor shows how hard life was for children without family or means, treated badly by master and mistress alike.
Without being tedious the author tells the reader so much about daily life – food and drink (and poison), travel by coach and carriage, the torment of crossing the channel. We learn how getting about London was easier by rowing boat, the job of waterman being as necessary then as parcelforce today.
The Royal Secret is an exciting and well-paced novel, even as I knew much of the actual history. Previous Marwood adventures would have been easier to follow with a good map of Restoration London. Now I am more familiar with Bread Street Hill and Puddle Wharf, so when I say “I got lost in this novel”, it is for all the right reasons.
A sub-plot involving two young girls from different social classes does not detract from the action and is skilfully handled.
Another installment is eagerly awaited next year!
A superb setting for another outing for Marwood and Hakesby. Pop in a lion a couple of malevolent young girls let alone the central plot and you have a gripping read.
Looking forward to the next.