Andrew Taylor

The Ashes of London

""...another triumph from the very able pen of Andrew Taylor." "


September 1666 and the Great Fire is still burning after 3 days. St Paul's Cathedral, thought to be impregnable, is burning and James Marwood watches in horror. He saves a young person who is desperate to find someone in the fire but is rewarded only with the loss of his cloak and a bleeding wound to his hand.

Marwood works for the government, providing information to those in power. His situation is somewhat precarious as his father is an outspoken opponent of the new King and is only tolerated if he does not speak out too loudly in public.

When a body is found in the ashes of the cathedral, obviously murdered, Marwood tries to investigate. He is drawn into deception and treachery that strikes deep into the heart of the rich and powerful. A young woman is also deeply embroiled in this mess and her determination to survive and retain her independence is entwined with Marwood's investigation. She wants revenge for the appalling wrongs she has suffered.

London at this time is a dangerous place as various factions strive for power and the threat of the Catholics in Europe is constant.

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The vivid description of St Paul's as it burns is the most thrilling start to a novel I have read in a very long time. Taylor perfectly placed me right at the scene with the sights, sounds and smells of 1666 and I was immediately engrossed in the story. Two strands intertwine: the reluctant informer, doing his best to protect his father and yet make a living in this precarious world where suspicion is everywhere and religious factions who do not trust each other. Add to this the wilful and cruelly treated girl who has been brought up to be an independent thinker when that was then deemed unseemly or even immoral, and you have a strong mix that carried me through Taylor's exquisite prose. The execution of the old King cuts deep into many memories and the edgy, distrustful atmosphere is beautifully described. The balance between old loyalties and present danger affects everyone. Andrew Taylor is an excellent writer who presents a gripping and intricate story. Add to that his obvious historical expertise and his facility in engendering atmosphere and you have a stunning book. 'The Ashes of London' comes highly recommended from me and is another triumph from the very able pen of Andrew Taylor.

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