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The Invention of Fire
A John Gower Mystery - Book II
Bruce Holsiinger

Harper Collins UK
5 March 2015 / ISBN 9780007493333
Historical Mystery

Reviewed by Rachel A Hyde


It is London in 1386 and sixteen bodies have been discovered with strange wounds. What can have killed them? It is the task of John Gower, poet, uncoverer of secrets, and friend of Chaucer, to discover this. What he finds is a new invention which is about to change war forever, but who commissioned the weapon and why?

Following on from series debut, A Burnable Book, this is another case for Gower, an interesting character and one who narrates parts of the tale. The fact that he does not narrate all of it means that the reader can discover things unknown to Gower, a neat solution and one that expands the story and brings various characters to life. As well as a complex plot, this is a good book to read if you want to know about various aspects of late 14th century life from weapons to medicine. It is not a fast read, being what I term "borderline literary," and some patience is required, but the plot moves quite fast. The problem of "info dump" never quite appears due to the facts being part of the story, but some interest in weapons of the period is required. Several characters from the first book appear, and having read this will certainly give a reader more enjoyment of the story, but this is a separate adventure and not a continuation of the previous tale. If you like your historical mysteries erudite, tortuous and gritty then this ought to appeal.

Reviewed 2015