The Fire Court (Marwood and Lovett #2), by Andrew Taylor

Eight stars

Returning for the second in this 17th century series, Andrew Taylor takes readers back to the streets of London, with another historical mystery. With strong characters and a plot that will keep readers guessing, the book proves as entertaining as the series debut. As the ashes continue to cool after London’s Great Fire, it is time to consider rebuilding and getting back in order. The King has decided that this cannot be done entirely without direction and he creates a Fire Court to handle disputes emanating from the fire and the vast destruction it caused. James Marwood is also trying to keep things in order as a clerk, while tending to his sick father, Nathaniel, who is still bitter about his time in prison for Regicide. When the elder Marwood wanders off, he is said to have come across the body of a woman in the building used by the Fire Court. His religious sentiments has him brand her a whore, which he recounts to his son, while also saying that he saw his long-dead wife, Rachel. However, Nathaniel’s mind is clouding and he dies in a freak accident days later. Marwood first dismissed his father’s ravings as dementia, but now cannot help but wonder if there is a grain of truth, and begins looking into the claims. It would seem that there are a few who wish to bend the ear of the Court to begin a lucrative building project called Dragon’s Yard. Marwood comes face to face with these men, both of whom are eager to push through their plans, letting no one stand in the way. Cat Lovett has been living under the radar as a house maid. She is pulled into the investigation when Marwood comes to find her and they discover that there are some definitive links between the Fire Court’s decision on Dragon’s Yard and the murdered woman. Marwood and Lovett are in great danger, but must risk it all to bring a murderer from out of the shadows. Taylor uses the time period and a slow, drawn-out mystery to his advantage in this piece. Recommended to those who love time period pieces, especially the reader who finds mysteries to their liking.

Andrew Taylor does well in this follow-up novel that delves deeper into the world of 17th Century London. There is little time for the reader to get their bearings, as the history emerges on the opening page. It would seem that Andrew Taylor feels there is no better way to get involved than to toss the reader off the literary deep end. Taylor brings back a few strong characters to shape this novel, including the dual protagonists. James Marwood grows in this story, showing more of his personality through the actions he undertakes. Taylor portrays Marwood as a dedicated worker, but also a son who has been saddled with dealing with a father whose mental capacity is quickly slipping away. Marwood will not let justice go unheeded, as he pushes through this tale, chasing down a killer who appears to be disposing of anyone standing in the way of a conniving plot. The reader will see a little backstory and some character development in this piece, adding a stronger foundation that can be useful in the upcoming novels in this series. Cat Lovett is again seeking to stay off the radar, partially because of her connection to a known plotter of Regicide. Cat tries her hand at blending in, but is soon summoned to help out. She finds herself helping her fellow protagonist, shedding a little more light onto her character and true colours. There are many who appear throughout the narrative and provide the reader with both entertainment and historical education about life in these times. Taylor has created wonderful storylines that include these various characters, all of whom complement the larger story and the protagonists’ progress. The story remained sound, leaving the reader to enjoy some of the historical references and banter. There are countless political and regal influences within the narrative, as in the first novel, which were also of great interest to me. I am eager to see where Taylor takes us in the third novel, which awaits me as soon as I post this review.

Kudos, Mr. Taylor, for another entertaining read. I am learning so very much with this series and cannot wait to discover more.

A Book for All Seasons, a different sort of Book Challenge: