The Scent of Death by Andrew Taylor was published in 2013. I wasn’t too sure of this one at the beginning but it wasn’t long before I got right into it.
The setting is 1778 New York, a city that has just suffered another devastating fire, the second within two years. Edward Savill has just arrived in the city, he’s a young clerk who has been sent from London to represent the British government, his job is to investigate the financial claims of loyalists who have lost possessions and property in the ongoing wars for Independence.
Manhattan is awash with refugees, soldiers, runaway slaves and spies and it’s a dangerous place to move around in – even by day. No rebuilding has gone on as people are cconcentrating on war, not building, so large numbers of people are living in Canvas Town, a dangerous place even in daylight. Edward Savill is lodging with the Wintour family who have themselves lost an estate which is on land that has been taken over by the rebels. The Wintours are very much poorer than they had been and Edward chooses to continue to lodge with them mainly because he knows his rent money is so useful for them, but it’s not long before he realises that there are problems within the household and he suspects that a spy has infiltrated the place.
Although I guessed what was going on in the mystery parts of the book this was an atmospheric and enjoyable read.
Bleeding Heart Square by Andrew Taylor was first published in 2008. I think it’s the third book by the author that I’ve read but it’s probably the one that I’ve liked least although I would give it a 3.5. I was quite disappointed by the ending because for me it left a lot of trailing threads and I thought maybe there was a sequel to it – but apparently not.
The setting is London in 1934, a time of social upheaval with Fascists rearing their ugly heads. Lydia Langstone’s wealthy husband Marcus has become involved with the Fascists, as so many of the upper class did, he’s hoping to get a top job within the organisation – well he would get an even better uniform to wear! But when Marcus attacks Lydia in a fit of pique she wastes no time in getting out of the house, reasoning that anywhere will be better than staying at home to be knocked about by a brutish husband.
Life in poverty is a shock for Lydia and people seem to think she’s just playing at being poor when they hear her cut-glass accent, but she has no option but to stay in a cheap boarding house where there are some strange people and goings on and Lydia becomes involved in what turns out to be a murder mystery.
I think that Andrew Taylor managed to conjure up the atmosphere of 1930s London, with Sir Oswald Mosley’s thugs attacking people who happened not to agree with them. Remind you of anyone?
I borrowed this one from the library and also The Scent of Death by the same author so I’ll be getting to that one soon.