Welcome, welcome all, to this meeting of The Society for the Prevention and Cure of Plague. Here at the Society, we’re working from all angles to do what we can against this ghastly outbreak in 1665. But something else seems to be afoot…
WHAT IS ONE MORE CORPSE, WHEN ALL AROUND YOU ARE DYING…
London, 1665. Hidden within a growing pile of corpses, one victim of the pestilence stands out: a young woman with a shorn head and pieces of twine delicately tied around each ankle.
Symon Patrick, rector of St. Paul’s Covent Garden, cannot say exactly why this corpse amongst the many in his churchyard should give him pause. Longing to do good, he joins a group of medical men who have gathered to find a cure for the plague, each man more peculiar and splenetic than the next. But there is another – unknown to The Society for the Prevention and Cure of Plague – who is performing his own terrible experiments upon unwilling plague-ridden subjects.
It is Penelope – Symon’s unwanted yet unremovable addition to his household – who may yet shed light on the matter. Far more than what she appears, she is already on the hunt. But the dark presence that enters the houses of the sick will not stop, and has no mercy…
This hugely atmospheric and entertaining historical thriller will transport readers to the palaces and alleyways of seventeenth-century London. Perfect for fans of Laura Shepherd-Robinson, Andrew Taylor and C.J. Sansom.
In the midst of plague, confusion arises; we can attest to that personally after the last year. What we can also attest to is the utter brilliance of our NHS, and how modern health care has made a tremendous difference, from basic paracetamol to ICU, and one of the things that particularly struck me reading this book when I did was just how different things would have been for us without it. Although that may not have been the main point of the book, the publishing time is poignant, and I feel it needs mentioning.
Author V.L. Valentine has taken a cast of seemingly mismatched characters and thrust them together into the Society for the Prevention and Cure of Plague. The characters are not always likeable, and often contradictory, especially Symon, who claims to be a pious man but doesn’t have the most savoury of thoughts. Penelope is a curious character who contributes a lot both in terms of the story progressing and in terms of the book itself. In a world run by men – even during plague – it was good to see a strong woman, even if she is somewhat curious. I have a soft spot for Penelope.
I did feel that the murder mystery side of things was overshadowed by other parts of the story, such as the darkly humous moments and the strong push on the historical and religious aspects, which were of course important factors, but ultimately I would have liked to see more on the mystery itself. That said, I do think this book is going to be a popular one!
My thanks to Viper Books for my proof copy, and you can follow along with the rest of the blog tour with the user names in the image.