My rating: 4 of 5 stars
I enjoyed this book way more than I was expecting too. I'm always lured by historical thrillers. Especially if it is set in Britain's past. This story was most unusual. It is about a Thief-Taker who must take on a task way out of his normal perimeters of work. He must investigate a serial murderer stalking plague-ridden London of 1665 during the Restoration era of King Charles II.
The story is unashamedly farfetched, but that is what makes it. There are all sorts of boundaries that the writer presents. Like checkpoints in various districts of London. Outside of London, in the countryside, there are groups of vigilante patrols hell-bent on killing refugees fleeing the plague. This is to contain it.
The author makes a wonderful and diabolical way of showing the dying plague-ridden victims. They are contained in districts. They look like something from the walking dead. Like zombies, except in need of help and desperate to beseech anyone for spiritual or any other type of charity. Obviously, uninfected Londoners are desperate to be out of their way. It gets rather claustrophobic at times as one pictures these wretched and diseased people crawling and staggering towards you. This is a crime/historical/horror story. In parts, it is rather gory. We have a serial killer dressed as a plague doctor. A Thief Taker who is well out of his league trying to hunt the killer. He is also well out of his league with the gorgeous well to do lady who has hired him.
I can't help thinking this would make a grand modern Hammer House Horror production as a movie. I suppose it is classified as a historical crime story. However, I would class it as Horror too.
My only nitpick is one. The beginning was great. The first third of the story was engrossing. The middle third of the story petered down a bit. I thought it was going to lose its way. But then in the final third the whole tale bounced back with a second wind. A very good read and a rather unusual and compelling story.