Andrew Taylor is a multi award winning writer of historical crime. He is the only author to have won the CWA Ellis Peters Historical Award three times and in 2009 he was awarded the CWA prestigious Diamond Dagger Award for sustained excellence in crime writing.
The King's Evil is his third crime novel set in Restoration England. The previous two, The Ashes of London and The Fire Court focused on the Great Fire and its aftermath.
It's now 1667, the ruins from the fire have been cleared and thousands still live in refugee camps on the perimeter of the city.
At court, the king's long term advisor, The Duke of Clarendon is in disgrace, the Duke of Buckingham is "again riding high in the King's favour", and Taylor's main characters, James Marwood and Cat Lovett are once again caught in a web of political intrigue, deceit and danger that threatens the future of the monarchy.
It's the real details which lodge in the mind, providing what is almost a bridge between the centuries.Andrew Taylor, author
Lovett, daughter of a regicide is in hiding, not only from the authorities but also from her abusive cousin Edward Alderley.
Warned that her cousin plans to kill her, Cat flees to the country. When Alderley is discovered drowned in a well in Clarendon's garden, Cat is accused of his murder.
Summoned to Whitehall, James Marwood is tasked with investigating Alderley's murder by the King.
Marwood's loyalties are conflicted as he is convinced Cat is innocent and determined to clear her name. But first he must find her.
Taylor's Restoration London is vividly realized. In an interview, he acknowledged the value of the detail of the diarists of the time, Pepys and Evelyn, saying, "In these sources you get very immediate personal glimpses of the London of the time and how the fire changed it. It's the real details which lodge in the mind, providing what is almost a bridge between the centuries".
The period detail and the mix of historical characters, including the King, with the fictional, create a powerful, convincing story about power and ambition.
Taylor says he hopes to continue the series because " the period is so infinitely rich in stories . . . [and] I enjoy the characters and I want to find out what happens to them". Taylor's readers can only agree.
- Anna Creer is a Canberra reviewer.