A Masterpiece of Corruption (A John Grey Historical Mystery) by L C Tyler

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A Masterpiece of Corruption (A John Grey Historical Mystery) by L C Tyler

Category: Historical Fiction
Rating: 5/5
Reviewer: Ani Johnson
Reviewed by Ani Johnson
Summary: The second John Grey post-English-Civil War story takes us further into Cromwell's Commonwealth and greater challenges to unwitting double agent John's survival. Well researched, well-paced and deliciously twisted!
Buy? Yes Borrow? Yes
Pages: 320 Date: January 2016
Publisher: Constable
External links: Author's website
ISBN: 978-1472114969

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1657: John Grey, law student at Lincolns Inn, receives a meeting invitation that doesn't seem to be meant for him. Unfortunately he still goes to the meeting and ends up accepting a mission to kill Oliver Cromwell. He has two problems with this: first he likes a quiet life and secondly he likes Oliver Cromwell. In fact he already works for Oliver's spymaster, Thurloe. The life expectancy of a double agent isn't that long and that's without reckoning on the intervention of Aminta!

After the wonderful John Grey debut A Cruel Necessity, British author L C Tyler brings us a second and even better instalment centring on our roundhead-leaning law student who just wants to be left alone to study. Unfortunately leaving John alone seems to be on no one's agenda.

John can ignore the fact of his Royalist mother's bigamous marriage to an admirer of Cromwell in order to keep her home. (No, husband No 2 is unaware.) He can also ignore her spying for the crown against his personal political loyalties. What he can't ignore is that he seems to have fallen into a web of the worst kind. Our honest nearly-innocent is forced into a position from which he has to convince both royalists and Cromwellians that he's on their side. In fact his life depends on their believing him. A problem for him isn't bad for us. The author ensures we're fully engaged in our hero's plight as well as continuing to provide us with a greater level of understanding about the era.

By 1657 the country is slowly falling out of love with the Lord Protector and the future Charles II waits in the wings. Sides are being swopped and realigned left, right and centre which plays to Mr Tyler's strengths in writing suspense and our desire for nail-biting entertainment.

Indeed, as John circumnavigates the difficulties imposed on him by the likes of Sir Richard Willys and John's boss, the aforementioned Sir John Thurloe (both sirs being real historical characters) we see more of the political side of the nation than in the first novel. Just to give some idea of the sort of person he's up against, the title of the book refers to a he rather than a what. We may need to pay a bit of attention to remember who's who at times but this isn't a problem and is rewarded by an exemplary spy thriller.

The author's wonderful dry humour also rises to the surface once again. John's description of his mother's marital state made me giggle unexpectedly. Aminta (who loved John so much she's now married to someone else) also raises a smile or two along with the revelation of her previously hidden depths.

As to factoids, LC doesn't let us down. For instance, one of Cromwell's forms of address is 'Your Highness', hinting of a nation that is used to a royal figurehead and doesn't know how to adjust to the change.

This is a novel that will entice anyone interested in a tale of intrigue, justifiable paranoia and subterfuge. If that anyone is also interested in history then it's a definite must read.

(A big thank you to the folk at Constable for providing us with a copy for review.)

Further Reading: They can be read in either order unless you're following the historic chronology but we definitely recommend the first John Grey book. If you're already a fan then we recommend The Devil in the Marshalsea by Antonia Hodgson just as highly.

Buy A Masterpiece of Corruption (A John Grey Historical Mystery) by L C Tyler at Amazon You could get a free audio download of A Masterpiece of Corruption (A John Grey Historical Mystery) by L C Tyler with a 30-day Audible free trial at Amazon.co.uk.


Buy A Masterpiece of Corruption (A John Grey Historical Mystery) by L C Tyler at Amazon You can read more book reviews or buy A Masterpiece of Corruption (A John Grey Historical Mystery) by L C Tyler at Amazon.co.uk.


Buy A Masterpiece of Corruption (A John Grey Historical Mystery) by L C Tyler at Amazon You can read more book reviews or buy A Masterpiece of Corruption (A John Grey Historical Mystery) by L C Tyler at Amazon.com.


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