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The Painted Lady
Christopher Redmayne Restoration series #6

by Edward Marston

      Araminta Jewell is so beautiful and pure that it seems a monstrous crime when she marries - willingly - ugly old Sir Martin Culthorpe. Particularly offended by the lady’s marked lack of taste are the four roués who form the Society for the Capture of Araminta’s Maidenhood. Architect Christopher Redmayne is disgusted but not surprised when he learns that one of them is his dissolute brother, Henry. However, he is amazed to hear not only has Araminta’s husband been murdered in his own garden, but that his latest customer, Jean-Paul Villemot, has been dragged off to Newgate suspected of doing the deed. Villemot had been engaged to paint the lady, but surely one of the four rakes is a more likely candidate... or somebody else entirely?

Those mismatched sleuths, Christopher Redmayne and Puritan constable Jonathan Bale are back on the case for a sixth mystery. As usual, it is fairly evident the author has written more than a few radio plays and all those staccato lines of dialog can get rather wearing, giving his work a degree of sameness. But Marston is adept at giving his novels a light touch, and this is particularly successful when writing about the irreverent Restoration period. He has the atmosphere spot on, and there is a marked similarity between the sort of things his characters get up to and the plays and literature of the time. It is all rakes pursuing maidens, the clash of steel and comical escapades, with the sense that a few years ago none of this would have been possible. Marston ought to get extra points for choosing a period that is neglected by historical writers, and what a pity as it is such a lively one.

The Book

Allison & Busby
18 January 2007
Historical Crime - 1670s London
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The Reviewer

Rachel A Hyde
Reviewed 2007
© 2006