The Ashes of London
In the aftermath of the fire, a semi-mummified body is discovered in the ashes of St. Paul’s, in a tomb that should have been empty. The man’s body has been mutilated and his thumbs have been tied behind his back.
Under orders from the government, Marwood is tasked with hunting down the killer across the devastated city. But at a time of dangerous internal dissent and the threat of foreign invasion, Marwood finds his investigation leads him into treacherous waters – and across the path of a determined, beautiful and vengeful young woman.
This is terrific stuff: intelligent, engrossing and, in its evocation of a long-vanished London, wonderfully plausible. 5 stars.
The Great Fire of 1666 is one of those few events in our island story about which everyone has a sprinkling of facts: the date; the bakery in Pudding Lane; Christopher Wren’s rebuilding of the city… The Ashes of London is a masterclass in how to weave a pacey story into a framework of true events. Taylor masters the detail as well as the broader picture…
Taylor has done a masterful job of pairing an exceptional story with a vivid historical setting. A gripping mystery set in a turbulent historical period, this is an exceptional novel.
[A] capital city is, literally, in meltdown in Andrew Taylor’s The Ashes of London. Taylor.... is one of the most reliably enjoyable of historical novelists, and in his latest book he convincingly conjures up the chaos as the Great Fire spreads from Pudding Lane to St Paul’s.
The plot is gripping, fast-moving and credible, reaching a climax in the ruins of St Paul’s… It’s a well-constructed political thriller with moments of horror, admirable and enjoyable. Taylor has done his research so thoroughly as to be unobtrusive, and one has the impression that he delights in his freedom from the restraints imposed by the requirements of police procedure and forensic science on the crime novelist today.
Andrew Taylor’s previous historical crime novels have won numerous well-deserved prizes. Read this one to understand why.
The Ashes of London is the book we all dream of writing and of reading: a crime thriller that pushes the pages over with effortless ease, while at the same time weaving an intricate, delicate, delight of a tapestry that draws us into a time and place that are so rich, so perfectly balanced that we walk alongside the characters, inhabit their shoes, feel their fear and taste their hope, all written in Andrew Taylor’s beautiful hand-crafted prose. This is a book to revel in, a joy and a delight. Definitely one of the must-reads of the year.
Andrew Taylor’s The Ashes of London, set at the time of the Great Fire, cements his reputation as our leading exponent of the historical mystery. He presents seventeenth century London with the same enticing readability that distinguishes all his work. Even better, this isn’t a stand-alone, but the start of a new series.
The Ashes of London is a chilling murder mystery and an equally transporting historical novel. A genuine pleasure from start to finish.
This novel has everything one could want in a summer book.
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