The Black Friar: Damian Seeker 2 by S G Maclean

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The Black Friar: Damian Seeker 2 by S G Maclean

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Category: Crime (Historical)
Rating: 5/5
Reviewer: Ani Johnson
Reviewed by Ani Johnson
Summary: Oliver Cromwell's investigator, The Seeker, is back heralding another great historical crime novel as well as another murder.
Buy? Yes Borrow? Yes
Pages: 432 Date: October 2016
Publisher: Quercus
ISBN: 978-1782068440

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When a dead monk is discovered walled into a disused monastery the local gossip is awash with remarks on the miracle of his well-preserved body all these years after the monastery was abandoned. Investigator and Captain of Cromwell's guard Damian Seeker has other ideas. This is a recent non-clergy death. This is Carter Blyth, a man on such a secret mission that even Cromwell didn't know about it. This will add complications to the already convoluted and dangerous path that Seeker will take to solve the crime, one of the complications being very close to home. – Shona to be less formal – is the sort of writer to whom historical fiction fans clamour. She has a Masters and Doctorate in history so the research is going to be spot on and (better still) she can weave a wonderful tale around it. We first discovered this with Shona's Alexander Seaton series. Now it's confirmed with this, the second outing for Captain Damian Seeker, Oliver Cromwell's trusted investigator at a time when Cromwell's trust was often betrayed.

Indeed, the year is 1655 and Oliver's honeymoon period (if there ever was one) is well and truly over. The Levellers continue to cause disruption for the sake of an even more egalitarian society than the Commonwealth has produced. While Fifth Monarchists want to clear all national authority aside in order to hasten the then supposedly imminent Second Coming of Christ. Once we've added a spy into the mix who has died a long drawn out death dressed as a monk, we can see why paranoia rules and Seeker has a job on his hands. Meanwhile for us readers it's a joy rather than a task.

Seeker is a fascinating bloke. To begin with his name is rather clever; a double pun no less. Not only is the Seeker a seeker of justice, he was once a Seeker: a protestant sect against the organised church, deeming it corrupt. Personality-wise, he's a bit of a 17th century Sean Bean. He's Yorkshire, honest-speaking and doggedly focussed, ideally matched for his role if it wasn't for his heart.

Our soldier has a well-hidden soft centre, and her name is Maria. Loving her is a dangerous pastime as Maria is a Royalist and her brother an activist for the exiled Prince Charles' cause. Not the sort of company you want to keep if you wish to keep your head and bowels attached to your body in Cromwell's England!

Shona packs a lot of people in to her stories and at the beginning we may feel awash with names. Worry ye not; the people we're meant to remember are definitely memorable. In fact Shona mixes the fictional characters like Damian himself with a fascinating spread of real people.

For instance, Cromwell's spymaster John Thurloe whose health is causing a premature jostling for position in case a power vacuum appears. At the other end of the age scale, a 22 year old clerk named Samuel Pepys is climbing through Cromwell's admin ranks. He may be young but many of the traits his diary will make famous are already evident. Meanwhile George Downing (the Downing Street Downing) isn't the sort of bloke that anyone would take home to mother and is definitely someone of whom Seeker is wary.

With its varied, interlacing plot and sub-plots, this is definitely the book for anyone who loves to be totally submersed in excitement alongside that post-Civil War uncertainty. This is historical crime from a confident writer who seems to have material that will sustain us for this and many more volumes… perhaps even beyond the lifetime of Cromwell since he only has 5 years to go? Or am I being selfish? No, don't answer that one!

(Thank you so much to the folk at Quercus for providing us with a copy for review.)

Further Reading: If you've enjoyed this, you'll also love The Redemption of Alexander Seaton. If you're already a Maclean fan, and would like some more Civil War intrigue and mayhem, we also highly recommend Traitor's Field by Robert Wilton.

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Buy The Black Friar: Damian Seeker 2 by S G Maclean at Amazon You can read more book reviews or buy The Black Friar: Damian Seeker 2 by S G Maclean at


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