The Royal Secret by Andrew Taylor is the fifth book in his Marwood and Lovett series which I’ve really enjoyed reading, I think this one is even better than the previous books in the series.
The year is 1670 and two young disgruntled girls are plotting to kill a man. Mr Abbott is Maria’s drunken step-father and Hannah is a servant in the household who is regularly beaten by Abbott. Hannah persuades Maria to help with the process which she says involves witchcraft – a dangerous business given the times. After the death of Mr Abbott Marwood looks around the now deserted home of the victim and he suspects that murder may have been committed. It seems that Abbott had been entangled with some dubious characters and had been drawn into frequenting a gambling house which had ruined him.
Meanwhile Cat Hakesby, nee Lovett is continuing with her architect business after the death of her elderly husband, annoyingly most people seems to assume that she isn’t actually doing any of the work and leaves it to one of her employees. After the success of a very grand design for a poultry house she’s asked to come up with an even more ornate plan for the much loved sister-in-law of the French king – Madame, the Duchess of Orleans (Minette) who happens to be the sister of King Charles II. The project requires a visit to the proposed site of the building in France and the trip there is eventful.
While at the French Court Cat is amazed to recognise a Dutchman she had had dealings with in London. Why is Mr Van Riebeeck in disguise and using another name?
Marwood and Cat are thrown together after some unfortunate presumptions on Cat’s part had led to a coolness between them. Marwood is on the track of the Dutchman and Cat can help. Thankfully this moves their relationship along somewhat, I live in hope – especially as Marwood’s whole face is transformed by his smile.
This was a great read, very well researched and based around actual facts. It’s one of those books that I didn’t want to come to an end so I’m already looking forward to the next one in the series.
Thanks to HarperCollins UK for a digital copy of this book for review via NetGalley.