S G MacLean

The Black Friar

"If, like me, you are a fan of historical fiction, this book is one of the best."


In this second book of the series featuring The Seeker, a body dressed as a friar is found bricked up in the walls of the former Blackfriars Monastery. When Captain Damien Seeker is called to investigate, he quickly realises this is no miraculously preserved relic from Henry VIII's time, but a recently deceased member of Oliver Cromwell's spy network.

London is full of discontent: there are the Royalist sympathisers, disaffected former supporters of Cromwell and various other fanatical and subversive religious sects. Seeker's job is to keep an eye on all causes of unrest and deal with them promptly. His cool efficiency and ruthless determination mean that he is a feared and respected member of society. He has a softer side but it is very well hidden.

In the course of his investigations he realises that children are disappearing without explanation all around the city. He battles against all the odds to find out what has happened to them. What he finds is a strange link to plans for insurrection against the Protector.

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Damien Seeker has a jaundiced view of society and his belief that “the brute will always rise to the surface without greater power to curb it” is his justification for the strong arm of the law he imposes. He also believes that “man is not capable of the liberty you so loudly demand for him”. I do so hope he is wrong! He is, however, a man of his time and there are innumerable factions threatening the stability of the government he is there to protect. He has the talents and intelligence to overcome the plotters and I think that is his appeal. Like many heroes, such as Bond and Superman, he can achieve what we ordinary mortals cannot and that is infinitely enticing. I also enjoy the insight this series brings to the time of The Protectorate. Tudor history is becoming familiar but Oliver Cromwell and his rule is new to me and all the more fascinating for that. The writer's historian's eye means that I have confidence in the historical detail and love every minute of it. If, like me, you are a fan of historical fiction, this book is one of the best. I heartily recommend it.

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