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The Butcher of Smithfield
Chalonerís Third Exploit in Restoration London

by Susanna Gregory

   Thomas Chaloner is back for a third adventure (or should that be misadventure) as the unloved ex-Parliamentarian spy now reluctantly employed by the Earl of Clarendon. Just back from a mission in Portugal, he is swiftly sent on another one - this time in London, where he is to investigate the strange death of a dodgy solicitor called Newburne who has died after eating a cucumber. But Thomasí old friend the musician Maylord has also just died from eating one - coincidental or not? Thomas has only been away for four months but there is a new tax on printed newssheets, and a new person in charge of them. And why does it all seem to lead to the mysterious Butcher of Smithfield and his team of Hectors?

If you enjoy Ms Gregoryís unique blend of chaotic humor, plenty of bodies dispatched in unusual ways and bizarre characters then you will also love this. Anybody also interested in genuine history will be intrigued to read about the origins of todayís newspapers and the feverish atmosphere of the Restoration, a scant three years after Charles II ascended the throne. This is captured rather well in this series, and although any book this fat is not going to be breathlessly exciting there is at least always something going on. We find out more about the various series characters and there is quite a plot to unravel. I certainly didnít guess it all, or even very much of it. This is the strongest entry in the fledgling series to date, and if the page count wasnít so high these stories would be even better.

Reviews of other titles in this series

A Conspiracy of Violence
Blood On The Strand
The Butcher of Smithfield
The Westminster Poisoner
A Murder on London Bridge
The Body in the Thames

The Book

Sphere (Little, Brown)
24 January 2008
Historical Crime 1663 / London
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The Reviewer

Rachel A Hyde
Reviewed 2008
© 2008