For England, 1795 was something of an annus horribilis. With defeat in the Low Countries, sedition in the naval yards and republican sympathisers thickening the mix, Redfern sets this tale of murder, betrayal and obsession against a dark screen of national fear, uncertainty and introspection.
The protagonists journey through a maze of bluff and counter measure to get to a single, concluding centre, propelled (some towards disaster) by their respective obsessions: Jonathon Absey subordinates the search for a killer on London's streets to his quest to find the killer of his own daughter; Guy de Montpellier erodes mentally and physically, scouring the night sky for a lost planet he believes he once saw; Pierre Raultier jeopardises his own life for the unrelenting pull of a hopeless love. It is obsession, and loss through obsession, that brings these people together, full tilt into the boiling pot of war, politics and espionage that polarised republican France and royalist England.
The author renders a London of mud, blood and danger, a depiction that supports the hardship, tragedy and hopelessness that marks the lives of everyone in it. The superbly detailed - and diverting - astronomical references offer some light to those observers keen to forget more 'grounded' troubles (most of Redfern's characters have at least a cursory knowledge of the stars).
Though the narrative muddies a little at times and the denouement is rather abrupt, "The Music of the Spheres" is a must-buy for anyone keen to add to their existing stock of historical fiction.