William Falkland is a Royalist dragoon whose fight against the parliamentarian forces of Oliver Cromwell has led him to await his fate in the bowels of Newgate prison. When an old grain sack is slung over his head, and he is led from his cell, Falkland can only hope that the executioner will dispatch him swiftly. However, his astonishment at finding himself facing, not the dreaded executioner, but the deep baritone voice of none other than Oliver Cromwell, is matched only by the proposition Cromwell puts before him. Falkland’s reputation as an investigator precedes him, and Cromwell’s request that Falkland should act as an intelligencer to discover why mysterious deaths are sweeping through his New Model Army is as incongruous as it is intriguing; and one that Falkland, if he values his life, cannot refuse.
What then follows is a murder mystery within a historical setting. The New Model army is depicted with all its faults and failings, and interestingly, it also gives an insight into what it was like to live through the turbulence of the English civil war. Life was no bed of roses for either side, and I think this comes across in a realistic manner. The author writes with clear understanding of the period in which the book is set and makes the characters believable.
As this is the first book in a proposed series, there is some scene setting being done, which is necessary, if ,we as readers are going to connect with the central characters. I enjoyed getting to know Falkland, who although deeply flawed, has enough charisma to be able to carry the story forward.
I look forward to seeing the series progress in future novels.
S J Deas was born in 1968
He once set fire to Wales. Well one bit of Wales. Twice. When not burning principalities he managed to study theoretical physics at Cambridge, get a job at BAE, marry and have two children. He now lives in Essex.
My thanks to Bookbridgr and Headline for my copy of this book.