November 1745 and Preston, in North West England is not the best place to be. Close (ish) to the Scottish border, the troops of the Young Pretender, Charles Stuart, are marching towards the town on their way to London to claim the throne.
Titus Cragg, the town coroner, has other problems on his mind. A decapitated corpse is discovered, along with a head – only the head doesn’t match the body. When the remaining parts are discovered, it seems they may well have been an advance party for the approaching Highlanders. But who would have killed them in that way? As events progress, another murder takes place and a hunt for missing treasure starts, but with Cragg arrested for murder, can the real killer be tracked down?
It’s been a while since I dipped my toe back into the world of historical mysteries. This is the sixth Fidelis and Cragg mystery – Luke Fidelis is Cragg’s medical friend – but it’s not a series that I’ve encountered before. The setting is an interesting one – the mid-eighteenth century with George II on the throne making a stand against the Pretender – and by setting the story in the path of the army, rather than at the site of the battle, it gives an interesting insight into the lives of people affected by the battle.
I’m in two minds about this one. The problem, I suppose, is that for me, I was hoping for a complex mystery. Instead, this is closer to an historical thriller, and it’s a good one. The author takes time to develop the supporting characters as well as the leads and there is plenty going on in the tale with multiple plot strands.
So, if you want an entertaining thriller set in a part of history rarely explored in the genre, then why not take a look.
Death And The Chevalier is out on December 31st from Severn House. Many thanks for the review copy.