70) Edward Marston — The Amorous Nightingale
Second in the Christopher Redmayne historical mystery series, set in London just after the Great Fire of 1666. I’d previously read only the fourth in the series, so I’m going back now, and am pleased to find that this one’s just as enjoyable. Young architect Christopher Redmayne is asked to do a service for the King — to find the King’s favourite mistress, the acclaimed singer/actress Harriet Gow, who has been abducted and held for an impossibly large ransom. Redmayne’s friend, the Puritan constable Jonathan Bale, initially refuses to help on moral grounds, but finds that he too has a personal stake in the crime, because Harriet’s maid is the orphaned daughter of friends of his. The two men have to use their separate network of social connections to hunt down leads as fast as possible, in a situation where secrecy is vital.
As ever with Marston’s historical novels, this is a competent, enjoyable, midlist novel which I probably won’t keep but am glad to have read. I don’t know enough about the period to know how accurate his historical detail is, but the world-building is good, and the plot mechanics work well. I think the characterisations are a little deeper and thus to me better in this series than in the Railway Detective series. And as I’ve found with his other books, while the lead characters are male, he has good secondary female characters. I’m looking forward to reading the next in the series.