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Blood on the Strand by Susanna Gregory

Blood on the Strand

by Susanna Gregory

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'Blood on the Strand' is the second novel by Susanna Gregory featuring the spy Thomas Chaloner. It is set in Restoration London. Charles II is back on the throne and London is still a hotbed of dissenters and ex-Cromwellians.

The year is 1663 and Thomas Chaloner a member of the King's intelligence service returns to London from Ireland, after assisting in thwarting a planned revolt in Dublin. Chaloner realises that feeling in the capital have changed since he left, there is a taste of rebellion in the London air. While investigating the shooting of a supposed beggar during a royal event, Chaloner discovers that far from being a beggar the man has links to the Company of Barber-Surgeons.

Meanwhile his employer, the Earl of Clarendon, is involved in a feud with the Earl of Bristol; and an innocent man is about to take the long drop in Newgate prison. Chaloner has his work cut out trying to protect Clarendon, discover who murdered the supposed vagrant, and try to save an innocent man from the executioner.

Although I personally like the Matthew Bartholomew series by Susanna Gregory slightly better, there's no denying that this is a very good historical detective novel. The descriptions of Restoration London and its sounds and smells are very well done; there's a whole host of colourful and well-developed characters (many of them historical, such as the Duke of Buckingham and Lady Castlemaine); and the story moves along at a brisk pace, with lots of twists and turns. ( )
  Jawin | Nov 2, 2013 |
This wasn't actually worth the effort. The pace throughout is quite slow, and the ending is very disappointing, relying on unexplained tricks, leaving the whole thing unresolved. ( )
  Helenliz | Mar 31, 2013 |
I bought this book as I love historical books especially mysteries (not so keen on the romances) but had not read many that are set at the time of the Restoration. However, I didn't really like this book. My main issue with it was I felt that the author did not like the period she is writing about.

Chaloner (as another reviewer has stated) doesn't really fit in with the times. I think this is supposed to be explained by him having spent a lot of his time abroad working as a spy and finding it hard to fit back into the London way of life. However, this still does not explain the way he feels, a lot of what he doesn't like would not just have been what was happening in London/views of Londoners but would have been echoed in the wider European world. Instead of a man in a strange country it feels more like a man in a strange time.

It felt to me that the author has researched the period, found nothing redeeming but thought "Hey, I might as well still write the series so I haven't wasted my time." Everything seems to be looked down on in disdain and I didn't find any of the characters particularly likeable. It's not that an author should write a rosy view of the past but unlike Sansom's Shardlake books (which I really like) that seem to show a realistic picture but with a certain affection for the time, Gregory seems to me to hate the Restoration period. I haven't found this with her Bartholomew medieval series.

I also, did not really enjoy the mystery story and didn't really care what the answer was. I have read another of this series so that I could give it a fair chance but I didn't like that one either. Also both had strong similarities at the end of the book with regards to who was behind it all - can't put more without spoiling the mystery for other readers. ( )
  Pigletto | Apr 30, 2011 |
This book is set in London in the spring of 1663. This is near the beginning of the Restoration when all of the United Kingdom is trying to get over Cromwell's Puritan reign. Charles II is back as monarch, and he and his entourage are involved in all kinds of intrigue. The quarrel between the Earl of Clarendon and the earl of Bristol was at its height at this time, and there is more than enough work for Chaloner as he spies for the Earl of Clarendon. It is also a time of great public interest in the science of disection. Barber/Surgeons went to great lengths to get the cadavers that they required for their studies. Chaloner finds himself in the middle of intrigue, body snatchers, and murder and mayhem.
The best thing about Ms. Gregory's books is the historical fact that she builds her fiction around, and that is very apparent here. She makes Restoration England come alive under her pen. This is not an era that has a lot of fiction built around it, so it is interesting to see what life was like then. ( )
  Romonko | Dec 15, 2009 |
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0751537594, Paperback)

Rebellion is in the air of London in the spring of 1663. Thomas Chaloner, spy for the King's intelligence service, has just returned from thwarting a planned revolt in Dublin, but soon realizes that England's capital is no haven of peace. He is ordered to investigate the shooting of a beggar during a royal procession. He soon learns the man is no vagrant, but someone with links to the powerful Company of Barber-Surgeons. His master, the Earl of Clarendon, is locked in a deadly feud with the Earl of Bristol, and an innocent man is about to be hanged in Newgate. Chaloner is embroiled in a desperate race against time to protect Clarendon, to discover the true identity of the beggar's murderer, and to save a blameless man from the executioner's noose.

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:10:49 -0400)

(see all 2 descriptions)

Thomas Chaloner, spy for the King's intelligence service, has been ordered to investigate the shooting of a beggar during a royal procession. But he soon learns that the man was no vagrant - in fact, he had close links to the Earl of Clarendon, and Chaloner finds himself embroiled in a race against time to save Clarendon.… (more)

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