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4.4 out of 5 stars
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VINE VOICEon 2 April 2013
This has been my Easter reading: a chance to plunge once more into a time and place I know nothing about, in the company of one of the absolute masters of our genre - in fact, one of the masters of fiction, who takes the genre boundaries and bends them to breaking with a style and quiet intelligence that leave me always, wondering why I bother when there's this kind of greatness out there for people to buy.

The American Boy was his breakout and anyone who hasn't read his tale of the young Edgar Allen Poe's boyhood in England should put it top of their reading list. I was struck then by a sense of time and place that took me deeper, more powerfully into an era than anything else I'd ever read. There's a quality to the dialogue that feels so rawly authentic; the language, the pace, the careful courtesies that hide murder and mayhem.. nobody manages this era with this kind of skill.

The Scent of Death has that same powerful evocation. It's set in 1778 in New York, an enclave of the English Crown at the height of the Revolution; a place almost under siege, that depends on ships from England for provisions, while wrestling with the growing distinction between Americans and English. Into this comes Edward Savill, a Clerk from the American Office who nurtures hopes of preferment if he does his job well and whose slow realisation that he has, instead, been sidelined by his wife's cousin, a man who `does not like her more than half' (which is to say, he despises her) , who is his boss.
Because this is a historical thriller, Samuel is present when a body is fished out of the water as his boat comes in and another is found soon after his arrival. His dogged investigation of their deaths leads him deeper into the underlayers of this so-careful society with its so-careful conventions and its hovering-on-poverty existence that runs side by side with the genuinely destitute slaves who live in the ghetto by the water. There are moments of real danger, and a slowly revealed secret that blows everything else out of the water. And right at the end, in sails HMS Lydmouth, which will mean something only to those familiar with Andrew's series of the same name, but it's such a beautiful, understated finale to a beautiful, not-at-all understated book. 5* without question.
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TOP 50 REVIEWERon 7 March 2013
Format: Hardcover|Vine Customer Review of Free Product( What's this? )
This is an historical novel set during the American War of Independence. Much of its action focuses on Manhattan, the last area of the United States under the control of King George. Into Manhattan flood all those British loyalists dispossessed by the expanding rebel armies.

The story is about Edward Savill, a clerk sent from London to investigate the claims for compensation by the colonists who have suffered losses. Even before his arrival in Manhattan, it is clear that nothing is really as it first appears and he soon finds himself embroiled in murder investigations and is tempted into affairs which are, perhaps, best left undiscovered.

As his tour of duty is extended and extended he finds himself involved with the family of Wintour family and when the husband returns from the army he is inveigled into undertaking a mission into enemy territory, the real purpose of which he could not have guessed at. When Savill receives bad news about his marriage and his posting finally arrives from England, he at last learns the truth and how in the fires of conflict, all is at the mercy of the armies who require gold to help them continue to wage war.

This is an excellent novel with brilliant attention to historical detail and to the characterisation of individuals. The slave trade and slavery in general is also explored and the inhumanity of lovers torn apart, mothers separated from their babies and the terrible crime of black daring to love white against the backdrop of the slave trade is laid bare in dramatic fashion.

The author creates a compelling picture of revolutionary America in the late eighteenth century.
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Format: Hardcover|Vine Customer Review of Free Product( What's this? )
This novel begins in 1778, during the American War of Independence, when Edward Savill is sent from London to a besieged New York in order to investigate the claims of dispossessed loyalists. Savill's passage has been arranged by his patron, and the uncle of his wife, Mr Rampton. Befriended on the voyage by the kindly Mr Noak and lodged with friends his patron, Judge Wintour and his family, the commission seems a positive step in Savill's career. Although he misses his young daughter, he is determined to make the best of things. However, from the first, things do not seem as straitforward as they first seem. Even before the ship has made port a body is fished from the river and, by the end of the first day, another body is found - that of Mr Pickett, who visited the Wintours.

This is a slow moving, atmospheric story, with the author painting a realistic picture of a provincial New York, swarming with refugees and under attack. Edward Savill is a well meaning, gentle man, who tries to do his best to make sense of events as they threaten to overwhelm him. Who killed Mr Pickett, why does the Wintour's beautiful daughter in law not want to return to her family home and who is the child that Savill hears crying at night? What is his role in this city and who should he trust? One of the strongest parts of the narrative is when Savill ventures beyond the city of New York, into a country lawless and at war. I have never read anything by Andrew Taylor before, but I was very impressed with this novel and will certainly read more of his work. This book has a great deal of depth and would be ideal for a book club read, with much to discuss.
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on 25 February 2015
A well written and gripping historical novel
The American war of Independence forms a backdrop to this tale of murder intrigue and slavery in the New York of 1778.
A good chance to brush up on your American history as well as enjoy a rollicking good yarn of multiple murders and hidden gold with sprinkling of sexual passion.
A refreshing change from the usual formulaic murder mystery.
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The Scent Of Death is set in New York during the American War Of Independence, where Edward Savill, an English clerk, is sent to New York to investigate claims by Loyalists that they have lost property. Soon Edward Savill is thrown into a murder enquiry after a body is discovered, and more secrets and danger await him...

I have never read a book by Andrew Taylor before this, so I wasn't sure what to expect. However, I really quite enjoyed this book! Having never read anything about The American War Of Independence, I must admit I did find it a little bit hard to get into the story at first, but within a few chapters I had settled into the narrative.

The descriptions in the book were very well-written. As soon as Savill arrived in America I could sense the atmosphere, and everything was so vivid that I could picture every single clearly in my mind. It was as if I'd been transported back in time, wow. Andrew Taylor has clearly done his research and it shows, for me the descriptions and setting were my favourite part of the story.

There is a lot to devour and uncover in this book. The Scent Of Death is brilliant for fans of historical novels or anyone with interest in the American War Of Independence. Not only that, but there is mystery, adventure, murder and suspense, making this an intriguing and compelling read.
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on 20 April 2014
Edward Savill has married a woman for her family connections and, whilst he loves their daughter, the marriage is stale. He uses his family connections within Government to secure a posting to New York as part of the American Office dealing with loyalist refugees. On arrival in New York he is billeted with a retired judge and his family including the beautiful but distant Arabella. During the War of Independence Arabella's family home was attacked and she lost her child. Arabella's husband was lost in battle and the family is poor. Edward comes across the body of murdered Englishman and is charged with investigating his death. There are links to both the judges family and also to a renegade slave with a scarred face. Edward is not sure who to trust and the complex plot involves slavery, loyalty and honour.

Andrew Taylor is an assured writer of historical fiction. His work is supremely researched and his plots buzz. This book is fascinating and engaging, heavy with detail yet the story races along.
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on 17 August 2015
As ever, Andrew Taylor's writing is compelling and informative. 18th C America is not much written about, which is surprising, given the political dynamics of the time. Mr T's research is impeccable and he brings the period to life. I found the pace a bit uneven - long slow passages interspersed with shorter bursts of frantic action.
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on 24 June 2016
This is the first book I've read by Andrew Taylor, and it won't be the last! Set in New York at the time of the American Revolutionary War, it gives a gritty and realistic account of what life was like set in a historical mystery thriller. You can feel the biting cold of the severe winter, smell the poor sanitation and be gripped by the violence of the time. Savill, the main protagonist, is a British civil servant drawn into an illicit affair with an American femme fatale who has to resort to extreme violence to surviive. A very readable and gripping tale.
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on 28 June 2013
From 'The American Boy' onwards I have really enjoyed Andrew Taylor's books. However, with this book I feel he has reached the heights of that last 'American' novel and it certainly deserves its short listing in this years Crime Writers Association prize.
A period that is not often covered in contemporary fiction, the time of the American war of independence, is vivdly brought to life through the eyes of a young man sent out to New York as an emissary of the crown. It has everything you expect from Andrew Taylor, an intriguing, engrossing plot, superbly drawn characters some of them with dark depths and an unexpected resolution. One of those novels I really did not want to finish that took me to the heart of a time and helped me see what it was like to be alive then as well as a being a fascinating mystery thriller.
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on 11 November 2013
I really enjoyed this book. As a veiwer of the excellent Bradley Walsh's Crime writers programme, I was aware of the book as it was ome of their featured new releases. Briefly, the action takes place at the time immediately before the American War of Independance. New York is a very small settlement on the tip of the area which it now covers. Mistrust is rife and our hero is sent to America to represent British interests. It covers a period which I suspect many of us are unfamiliar. We know that the Americans colonists finally evicted Britain as their ruler, but whta was life like at the time. This book helps to set the scene and exposes us to the atmosphere of the time. A thoroughly enjoyable and interesting, if not to say educational (without being at all dry) read.
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