LONDON, 1590. Queen Elizabeth I’s control over her kingdom is wavering. Amidst a tumultuous backdrop of Spanish plotters, Catholic heretics and foreign wars threatening the country’s fragile stability, the body of a small boy is found in the City of London, with strange marks that no one can explain.
When idealistic physician Nicholas Shelby finds another body displaying the same marks only days later, he becomes convinced that a killer is at work, preying on the weak and destitute of London.
Determined to find out who is behind these terrible murders, Nicholas is joined in his investigations by Bianca, a mysterious tavern keeper. As more bodies are discovered, the pair find themselves caught in the middle of a sinister plot. With the killer still at large, and Bianca in terrible danger, Nicholas’s choice seems impossible – to save Bianca, or save himself…
I was lucky enough to receive an advance copy of this book a month or two ago from the publisher. I was ready and raring to dive into it but I was told the blog tour wouldn’t be taking place until September so I held off, I like to review books right after reading them so everything is fresh in my mind.
Genre: Historical Crime (with a thrilling twist)
Date Published: 6th September 2018 (Corvus)
Length: 432 pages
Available formats: Kindle, Hardback & Paperback
The Angel’s Mark is at first glance a rather chunky book, at least by my standards. Something I have come to fear about chunky books is that while the story and characters are good, the pacing could use some work. I almost always end up losing interest part way through, pushing myself to actually finish the book. Thankfully that isn’t the case with this novel! The pacing of this novel is very well done, throwing enough plot twists and newly discovered information at the reader at semi-regular intervals. Most of which will throw your theories of who the killer is out of the window, forcing you to start again. I had this happen to me about a third of the way in, I was 98% sure I knew who the killer is. But then you are shown something that screams ‘THIS IS THE KILLER’ at you far too early in the book, a red herring if I ever saw one. I love it when this happens in a crime novel, it keeps me on my toes and guessing till the last minute. And when the killer is finally revealed? It is very much an ‘oh sh*t’ moment that you don’t see coming.
The character development is done very well from heart-breaking beginning to end, the changes that you see the main character, Nicholas Shelby, go through will tug at your heart strings and have you cheering him on through his investigation. Interspersed with some chapters following other characters you get a well rounded view of life in the late Elizabethan period, from the wealthy to the vagrants living on the streets.
Overall this is a very well told crime novel, set in one of my favourite historical periods as a child. I would recommend this book to anyone who loves surprises and has a somewhat strong stomach for violent (fictional) crime.