MASTERPIECE OF CORRUPTION
Publisher: Felony & Mayhem Press (November, 2018)
Kindle edition: $7.99
A John Grey mystery (Book 2)
Reviewed by Shirley Wetzel
England, 1651. Fledgling lawyer John Grey gets a letter inviting him to a late night meeting. He has no idea who they are or what they want, but his curiosity overcomes his reluctance. When the men he finds there start asking him curious questions, he quickly realizes they’ve mistaken him for his father – his dead father, who is actually laying low with his mistress in Amsterdam. John has no particular political alliance in these troubled times, but his parents are both known supporters of the exiled King Charles II. Now that Lord Cromwell is ruling the country with an iron hand, it is very dangerous to admit to such loyalty.
The men, obviously wealthy former nobility, are members of a secret society called the Sealed Knot. The society is made up of Royalists who still support the King in Exile. Their goal is to restore him to the throne, but first they must destroy Oliver Cromwell, The Lord Protector of the realm. They are convinced that young John, with his legal training and modest demeanor, can play a vital part in their plan. John has done his best to keep his head down and avoid political entanglements, but they are very persuasive in their argument, making him an offer he can’t refuse. Or he could, if he didn’t mind a bit of torture and death. He takes the offer and gets a job as a clerk for Cromwell in order to spy on him.
As if he needs any more aggravation, when he returns to his quarters, he finds an unwelcome visitor: the beautiful and haughty Arminta. His feelings for Arminta, who’s been in exile in France, are complicated, to say the least. They are related by the extramarital affairs of his father and her mother, and in truth he has feelings for her that aren’t exactly brotherly. Arminta wants him to take advantage of his position to convince Cromwell to return her father’s land and title. John is under intense pressure to just keep his head on his shoulders, since his previous boss has convinced him to become a double agent. All the poor guy wants is to just finish his studies and become a low-level lawyer, but the powers that beon both sides just won’t give him a break.
The Sacred Knot wants John to kill Cromwell, while Cromwell and his Secret Service want him to uncover the identity of the assassin they know is nearby, perhaps even in the Lord Protector’s inner circle, before he strikes. John walks a tightrope in London and comes near destruction on a mission to Brussels, but his wit and resourcefulness just might get him through.
Tyler has written a novel that will please fans of historical fiction, great mysteries, and good writing in general. The attention to detail in this interesting historical period is impeccable. The real characters and historical events are woven seamlessly into the plot. Fans of Bruce Alexander, Anne Perry and David Liss will find much to like in A MASTERPIECE OF CORRUPTION. Recommended.
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