Rather than exacerbating that winter's gloom, a sudden freezing-over of London's Thames River in 1669 becomes a cause of public delight in Edward Marston's The Frost Fair
. "In place of a river, we have the widest street in Europe", exclaims architect Christopher Redmayne, as he observes the myriad merchants and entertainers who've mounted an eccentric celebration on the ice. But this revelry soon cools, after Redmayne and his sober-sided associate, Constable Jonathan Bale, discover a corpse trapped in the glacial crust. The deceased is Jeronimo Maldini, an Italian fencing master who was stabbed with a dagger belonging to none other than Redmayne's foppish, pleasure-seeking elder brother, Henry. Most Londoners, including Bale, are convinced of Henry's guilt, and the accused was too inebriated on the night of the murder to be sure of his own innocence. Christopher, however, is
sure, and so sets off to find the real killer. Meanwhile, the designer detective must fend off the amorous advances of a new client and, not insignificantly, prevent Henry's suicide in squalid Newgate Prison.
Like its predecessors in the Redmayne/Bale series, this circuitously plotted work adroitly portrays the alternately respectable and ribald atmosphere of post-Great Fire London. Christopher Redmayne, who labours to restore his city in the shadow of real-life architect Christopher Wren, has matured into a credible sleuth, bedeviled by his sibling but forging a relationship of grudging respect with the puritanical Bale. If the tone of this series isn't quite so jauntily whimsical as that of Marston's better-known Nicholas Bracewell books (The Bawdy Basket, etc:), The Frost Fair nonetheless proves itself a historical mystery with thrills on top of chills. --J Kingston Pierce, Amazon.com
--This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
"Humor and suspense are cleverly interplayed but the novel's best feature is the reality with which the people and period are brought to life." -- Booklist