Book Review: The Royal Secret by Andrew Taylor

Genre: Historical fiction
Publisher: Harper Collins
Pub date: 29 April 2021
Rating: 🌟🌟🌟🌟🌟

From the No.1 bestselling author of The Last Protector and The Ashes of London comes the next book in the phenomenally successful series following James Marwood and Cat Lovett during the time of King Charles II.

Two young girls plot a murder by witchcraft. Soon afterwards a government clerk dies painfully in mysterious circumstances. His colleague James Marwood is asked to investigate – but the task brings unexpected dangers.
Meanwhile, architect Cat Hakesby is working for a merchant who lives on Slaughter Street, where the air smells of blood and a captive Barbary lion prowls the stables. Then a prestigious new commission arrives. Cat must design a Poultry House for the woman that the King loves most in all the world.
Unbeknownst to all, at the heart of this lies a royal secret so explosive that it could not only rip apart England but change the entire face of Europe…

The Royal Secret is the fifth in the brilliant series featuring James Marwood and Cat Hakesby.

This time we find Cat and Marwood at odds, although their friendship has blossomed, recent events put a strain on their relationship which may see it ruined completely.

Marwood finds himself working directly for Lord Arlington and whilst he follows orders he cannot help but think there’s more to the plans than meets the eye. Cat meanwhile has been commissioned to work on a building for the King’s sister and meets a man named Van Riebeck, she is automatically drawn to him, but what is he hiding and why does Cat also not trust him?

As events escalate and murders increase Marwood knows Van Riebeck is the key to everything but what’s Cat’s involvement and can he solve it all before their friendship it completely ruined?

I enjoy this series more and more with each book. This one is fast paced, full of apprehension with a couple of twists thrown in to make it a perfect mystery. Taylor has written an intriguing plot with multiple threads which all come together in the end having been weaved into a complex but engaging storyline.

Taylor incorporates details about everyday life in London making you feel like you are right there with the characters.
Throughout this series the characters have grown on me and not just Marwood and Cat, Stephen, Pheebs, Sam and Margaret are all great returning characters and there’s some great new ones in this instalment. There are also some very dislikeable characters, I won’t say much about them to avoid spoilers but there are certainly those with a less than friendly nature.

As I was coming to the end I had to slow down my reading to savour it more but eventually I came to the end and now eagerly await the next instalment.

If you enjoy a good mystery I’d certainly recommend this and you don’t need to have read the previous books but I would also read them as they’re all great!

The Royal Secret is out next week but you can preorder.

Andrew Taylor is a bestselling British crime and historical novelist, winner of the CWA Cartier Diamond Dagger (for lifelong excellence in the genre), the HWA Gold Crown for best historical novel of the year, and the triple winner of the CWA Historical Dagger. He has published over 45 books. They include the international bestseller, The American Boy (a Richard and Judy selection); the Roth Trilogy (filmed for TV as Fallen Angel); the Lydmouth detective series set in the 1950s; and The Anatomy of Ghosts, shortlisted for the Theakston’s Old Peculier Crime Novel of the Year. His most recent books are the Marwood and Lovett Restoration series. The Ashes of London was a Times/Waterstones number one bestseller. The sequels have both all been bestsellers too.

If you’d like to find out more about Andrew Taylor you can find him on Twitter @AndrewJRTaylor

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