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Customer Reviews

4.3 out of 5 stars
4.3 out of 5 stars
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on 12 February 2013
I am well aware my effusive praise of the peerless Susanna Gregory is a common thread whenever I review her books (and I have no association with the author whatsoever) so I shall limit myself to declaring that this is as good as anything she has produced.
The story is multi-threaded with multiple plots designed to confuse Chaloner who is commanded by Clarendon to go investigate the poisoning of several fowl in St James Park. This is ostensibly so Clarendon's new "Marshall" - Gery - can command the investigation of the Post Office. Two plots abound there - "The Devilles Work" and blatant corruption of the accounts. What with Clarendon threatening to send Chaloner off to Russia pronto and a very nasty poison making the rounds coupled with exploding carts full of logs, our sleuth is having a difficult time. As usual the culprits and suspects are scattered from low society to high and this novel is concerned with the settling of old scores and the murky work of double and even triple agents.
What makes this one slightly different is that Gregory decides to send Chaloner's troublesome Hannah and servants off to Buckinghamshire to get them out of the way of her pen and we conclude with a postscript telling us that Tom is in serious trouble when he heads off to the Tsar with a changed set of missives and glass replacements for the jewels. It leaves us anticipating what is going to happen and wonder if Gregory is going to have Tom's next adventure outside London.
As ever, Gregory is a guilty pleasure; an author that demands a reader curl up in a wing-back chair next to a fire, have glass of wine in easy reach and then asks you to lose yourself in Tom's or Matthew's adventures for several hours. It's a "five stars and beyond" read. Every single time.
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on 8 February 2013
I love Susanna Gregory. She writes humerous and witty books. I have the lot and am "gagging" for the next installment of each series. Her characters are vivid and the plot thickens. Her main investigator is an ex cromwellian spy in cavalier England. She uses characters who existed at the time.
Come on Susanna, we are at the plague year! Don't keep me in suspense....or on second thoughts, keep up the tradition!
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on 19 June 2016
As with all of Susanna Gregory novels this is an excellent read. Many years ago I was enthralled by the Brother Cadfael. Novels of Ellis Peters, Susanna Gregory is a natural and worthy successor to her, treating her readers as being intelligent whilst giving us a thumping good read. I look forward to more from her pen be it another Thomas Chaloner story or another historical mystery that the the wondrous Matthew Bartholomew has to investigate in medieval Cambridge. thank you Susanna for another intelligent read.
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on 3 March 2014
I recently criticised Vichi's "Death in Florence" for "investigation deficit"; this book, for me, went to the other extreme, with so much footslogging and conversations with suspects that I felt a bit exhausted. The plot is extremely complex in that there are many characters, most of them suspects and few of them sympathetic, and two plots - and I soon realised that apart from Chaloner nobody was necessarily what they seemed, or what Chalenor and the other characters thought them, and who was in what plot was equally veiled in fog. It kept me reading to the end, just as it kept him sleuthing to the end.It is the first of the Chaloner books I have read, and I was impressed by the deft weaving of historical characters into the plot, and the claustrophobic atmosphere of early Restoration London. The end had a nice twist, too. Just occasionally I was irritated by conversations that seemed less like speech between men who knew each other and were all well aware of events around them, and more like history lessons for the reader, sometimes delivered in a bland style that didn't reflect character or education. Once I found an "of course", as the reader was reminded that her central character could not have known something - just an unfortunate authorial intrusion. And I am not sure thaf the author is at her happiest describing fights, not that I advocate beating up people or fighting duels to the death merely in the interest of historical research.
Will I read another. Probably. But if someone were to bump off Mrs C, and if Chaloner could be as pro-active in organising his life as he is in investigating dangerous plots, I would be a bit happier.
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on 27 July 2015
Another spell-binder from Susanna Gregory, who combines great skill as a writer with the deep grasp of historical detail of a trained historian. As in many of her stories, a well-known historical figure makes a colourful cameo appearance, in this instance the legendary French landscape architect Andre le Notre. I found this very difficult to put down.
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on 28 November 2013
Another tale another mystery but what was missing is what made Thomas more engaging; the details of his inner life and relationships. This simply has too many characters involved in plotting and insufficient human plot. Yes I did read it to the end and did want to know what happened, but I was less smitten than I had been with her other books because it is returning to the well worn path of Matthew B. too much sleuthing and nothing else. Love the craft but would help if Susanna Gregory would just relax and make it a bit more real we don't need total plot submersion to value her books.
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on 28 August 2013
I have read and enjoyed every one of the Chaloner series and this book is no exception. I do, however, agree with other reviewers who say that some of the characters are not always fully developed. The constant theme throughout the book is that Clarendon might send him on a mission to Russia which would remove him from the plague in London if the next book in the series reflects this.
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on 26 February 2013
I love Gregory's novels, and have been hooked on her Chaloner series since book one. Chaloner is a great character, and I'm enjoying his adventures. My only issue is that he is accumulating a lot of enemies, and I keep wondering which ones will resurface...her epilogues are getting a bit much for me! But her plot, characters, pace of writing etc are all fantastic.
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on 3 April 2013
I lke both her Thomas Chaloner and Simon Bartholemew characters, differing periods of history for them both but well researched and though no expert myself fit in with my own interpretations of the periods. Thomas as usual is handicaped by his employer constantly putting pressure on him to solve some minor insligh to himself and expecting him to also solve a much more serrious crime/action. It is full of the usual intreages, plots, and counter plots to keep you guessing how it will all end until the final chapter. THis book along with the rest of the series is a pleasant change from modern crime thrillers, with a chance that yu can also pick up some historical information as a bonus. I can thoroughly recomend this and the others in the series if not already read, and if you have then you will not need the recommendation.
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on 16 April 2013
Susanna Gregory is a fantastic writer [hence the 3 stars], but this series sucks. I dont know why she started it. Matthew Bartholmew is way more interesting in almost every way. Chaloner is supposed to be a spy - but he has no instincts or good judgement when it comes to assessing the people he comes into contact with. You have to wonder how he's still alive. If you want to know "whodunnit" just look for the person he trusts the most. In every book I've read - that's the killer.

Cast of characters/surroundings never changes and after 8 books it's getting boring. Although Bartholomew is mostly set in Cambridge, he does leave there in a few of the books, which provides a welcome change of scene for the reader and keeps the books from getting monotonous. Also, there are many different colleges in Cambridge, each one filled with different staff and students. So Bartholomew is constantly confronting different sets of characters in all the books. Chaloner is constantly surrounded by the same people and nothing ever really changes.

I dont know why she started this series. I'd much rather have 2 Bartholomew books a year than another Chaloner one.
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