Betsy Brand is an actress at the new Dorset Gardens theater, a job she greatly enjoys.
But when sceneshifter Tom Cleeve suddenly collapses and dies in front of her and the rest
of the company, she is instantly suspicious. Another man seemingly in rude health died in
the same manner just hours beforehand; can there be a poisoner at large? Betsy and her
landlord, Dr Catlin, are soon on the case, uncovering the mystery of a man called The
Salamander, who operated during the recent Fire of London.
This is a polished and very enjoyable series debut (at least, I hope this is going to be
a series) by the author of two series of Elizabethan historical mysteries. Betsy and her
two friends make for an engaging trio of sleuths who investigate a fairly convoluted plot
with considerable gusto. Also interesting is the background of the Restoration, a time when
the fire that changed London forever is still fresh in everybody’s minds, and Charles II is
a new king after a long period with a very different ruler. There is also the added
dimension of this period in theater history when women were allowed to perform for the first
time. There are not many books set during the 17th century, and it is always good to find one,
particularly with such a good underpinning of research, a page turner of a story, and an
amiable leading lady. More, please.