King Charles II brings the English parliament to Oxford, amid sectarian hysteria over a so-called ‘Popish Plot’ against the throne.
William Harbord, an MP and leader of an extremist Protestant group, the Green Ribbon Club, is found stabbed to death. Luke Sandys, Chief Officer of Bailiffs, must investigate, with his trusty deputy, Robshaw.
To identify the killer, he has to rely as much on Robshaw’s stout yeoman common sense, and his own scholarly background, as on evidence and logic.
Meanwhile, the Green Ribbons plan a ‘spectacular’ – a gruesome ritual, supposedly to show the market day crowds how ‘Papists’ should be dealt with. Luke scrambles to find an angle he can use to foil their conspiracy.
As lines of inquiry converge, Luke’s heart pulls him one way, while duty pulls in the opposite direction. Which will he choose to follow? Will he crack the case in time? And will he declare his love?
Historical crime is a genre that I cannot get enough of. So when I was given the opportunity to review Blood on the Stone by Jake Lynch – a story which not only had an intriguing mystery, but focused on an aspect of history that I did not know about – I knew I had to give it a shot.
This novel is definitely more plot-focused and character orientated. Not to say that the characters aren’t interesting; Luke in particular is a fascinating protagonist, torn between what his era expects of him and the personal feelings surrounding Cate and the conspiracy that unfolds. This conflict is at the centre of the story, but is not necessarily it’s heart.
Instead, the heart of the story lies in the layers of the plot. Rather than a typical mystery of sudden twists and turn, this novel is a winding and dangerous trip down a rabbit hole. Historical bias’ of the time is intermingled with the twisted scheme that Luke uncovers, and the political pressure he is under as the story goes on. Finding out how deep the rabbit hole goes is one of the most intriguing things about any conspiracy, and this been captured extremely well within this book.
There was one element I found a little disappointing. I found the setting descriptions to be a little lacking compared to other novels of this genre. When I read a historical fiction I want to feel like I have travelled back in time – I want to smell the fields of the country, listen to the clank of industry. More focus was directed onto the momentum of the plot than the world. This is not a bad thing, especially considering where the story takes you, but I personally love a book that is able to paint the past in your mind.
Overall, I found this to be a slow-burn mystery novel. If you’re looking for a mystery that unravels slowly, and provides insight into the attitudes surrounding religion and authority in the seventeenth century, this could be a good fit for you. I look forward to seeing what books this author writes in the future.
Have you read this book? What is your opinion on slow-burning mysteries? Let me know in the comments below or tweet me @ERHollands. Don’t forget to check out the other awesome stops on this book blog tour!