The Shadows of London by Andrew Taylor was published in 2023. The setting is London, 1671 and it’s a continuation of the Cat and Marwood series.
Architect Cat has a contract to restore an old almshouse, but work has to be stopped on it when a body is discovered. The face has been mutilated, making it almost impossible to identify the victim. It could be a financial disaster for Cat and others. Marwood is still working at Whitehall and he has the job of investigating the murder.
At court King Charles II has his eyes on yet another mistress, this time she’s a young French woman, Louise de Keroualle, supposedly a virgin. There’s more to the liaison than just the King’s lust though as it involves European politics, with the French intending to use Louise as a spy in the camp, and presumably to manipulate the King for their own ends.
For some reason the Duke of Buckingham who is the most inflential courtier has taken against Marwood, putting him in danger of his life.
This is the sixth book in the Cat/Marwood series which I have really enjoyed, but for me this one dragged a bit in the middle, I suspect that was because I felt there was too much of Marwood and not enough of Cat. I’ll still read the next one in the series though, if there is one.
The historical note at the end makes it clear that the Louise and King Charles II episode is historically correct, with many powerful men involved in the seduction of the young woman. The author compares it with the Harvey Weinstein and Jeffrey Epstein shenanigans, but women have always been used by men – just ask Eve.