AD Swanston, Incendium, (London: Bantam Press, 2017)
This is the first in a new series, and much as I love this period (and am increasingly interested in historical fiction) I’m not convinced I’ll follow Christopher Radcliff’s adventures. Not, at least, at full price.
To begin with, the book feels bloated: cut 25% and it might have been a reasonably pacy thriller. In fact, had I not read it over a weekend when I was too ill to leave my bed, I might not have finished it. So many books; so little time, etc
There were also places where I was hyper-aware of the exposition I was being fed, which always annoys me. This was undoubtedly well-researched, but at times, especially towards the beginning, the fruits of that research were being pressed on me too clumsily.
Finally, there’s Dr Radcliff himself – simply a character I never warmed to. SPOILER [In clichéd police procedural style, he takes several dressings-down from his boss, and whilst Radcliff is given at least two ‘you’ve got 24-hours to save your job‘ ultimatums, I never once cared.]
That said, I enjoyed the scope of the book, hopping the Channel to take in the Massacre at Paris. It’s an enjoyable enough stroll (too slow-paced to call it a ‘romp’) through Elizabethan London, and reasonably immersive, but that’s about it.
(read Jan 2019)