6 October 2016.
ISBN: 978-1-78206-845 7
So when the body of a man, dressed in the robes of a Dominican friar, the Order having been banned from England in the previous century, is found when the old Dominican priory is being demolished, Seeker goes to investigate. And it becomes apparent that the body is not old: it is very recent and the man was walled up alive and then died of suffocation. So if he wasn't a Dominican friar who was he? Seeker recognises him: he is Carter Blyth, one of Thurloe's spies, last known to be in the Netherlands and spying on the royalists and having died there in an explosion. So what was he doing in England, calling himself Gideon Fell and lodging with the family of Goodman Crowe? Father, wife Elizabeth and daughter Patience and son Nathaniel, all, with the exception of the backward Nathaniel, fanatical Fifth Monarchists? Is there a connection with the Fifth Monarchist uprising which happens in the course of the narrative? Or was there a connection between Blyth and Lady Anne Winter, passionate Royalist?
Many of the characters in the narrative have occurred in the previous Seeker novel including Lady Anne herself, Samuel Kent, still keeping, with his niece Grace, his popular coffee house in the heart of the City, the radical lawyer Elias Ellingworth, more interested in publishing his revolutionary pamphlets than in his legal practice.. Are they involved in some way? And what about Maria, Ellingworth's beautiful sister – she and Seeker have been lovers but his loyalty to Cromwell and her strong support of her brother and his politics form an apparently insuperable barrier. And four children have gone missing and all have a connection to the New England schoolmaster Shadrach Jones. He seems guileless, but is he? And is someone in Thurloe's staff involved?
All this, and a great deal more involving other historical personages including the poet Andrew Marvell and the diarist Samuel Pepys make for a satisfactorily complex and fascinating story backed up by impeccable historical research, all set in a time of extraordinary political and religious turmoil. Highly recommended.
Reviewer: Radmila May