The Ashes of London by Andrew Taylor

Had it not been the choice at my U3A book group this month, I probably would never have read The Ashes of London by Andrew Taylor and my word I’d have missed out. I’m delighted to share my review today.

The Ashes of London was published in paperback on 26th January 2017 by Harper Collins and is available for purchase in all formats through the links here.

The Ashes of London

London, 1666. As the Great Fire consumes everything in its path, the body of a man is found in the ruins of St Paul’s Cathedral – stabbed in the neck, thumbs tied behind his back.

The son of a traitor, James Marwood is forced to hunt the killer through the city’s devastated streets. There he encounters a determined young woman, who will stop at nothing to secure her freedom.

When a second murder victim is discovered in the Fleet Ditch, Marwood is drawn into the political and religious intrigue of Westminster – and across the path of a killer with nothing to lose…

My Review of The Ashes of London

It’s 1666 and London is burning.

My goodness I enjoyed The Ashes of London. It opens dramatically and continues with a fast, sometimes brutal, pace that makes the plot fly past right up to the exciting end. I was entirely entranced by Andrew Taylor’s writing. His style is accessible and yet authentic for the era with direct speech especially well attuned to convey class, social standing and gender. 

The story is steeped in politics, intrigue, betrayal, control and mystery so that I became absolutely spellbound in its telling. There’s a delicious blend of real and imagined characters lending an authenticity that enhances the narrative still further and reading The Ashes of London is a bit like peeling back the layers of history and society so that the reader feels as if they were actually present. 

I found the descriptions of London vivid, convincing and authentic with every sense catered for so that I could not have been more impressed by the quality of research and realism in this brilliantly conveyed narrative. The Ashes of London has a filmic quality I thought was simply fabulous.

Whilst I found Cat’s narrative so tantalising, there’s more here from James Marwood’s perspective in a technique that I found perfectly mirrored the status of men and women in the society of the time. I thought the way Cat’s actions make the reader contemplate morality was so thought-provoking, because she often does the wrong thing but for absolutely the right reason. I loved, too, the middle ground, the ordinariness of James Marwood, that illustrates how a twist of fate can completely alter a person’s life. He was completely convincing and believable.

I found The Ashes of London exceptionally well plotted, atmospherically written and hugely entertaining. I absolutely loved it and totally resented it when life interrupted my reading of the book. And what a pleasure to know The Ashes of London is the start of a series I haven’t previously discovered and I’ve so much to look forward to.

About Andrew Taylor

Andrew Taylor is a bestselling British crime and historical novelist, winner of the CWA Cartier Diamond Dagger (for lifelong excellence in the genre), the HWA Gold Crown for best historical novel of the year, and the triple winner of the CWA Historical Dagger. He has published over 45 books.

They include the international bestseller, The American Boy (a Richard and Judy selection); the Roth Trilogy (filmed for TV as Fallen Angel); the Lydmouth detective series set in the 1950s; and The Anatomy of Ghosts, shortlisted for the Theakston’s Old Peculier Crime Novel of the Year.

His most recent books are the Marwood and Lovett Restoration series. The Ashes of London was a Times/Waterstones number one bestseller. The sequels have both all been bestsellers too. The fifth in the series, The Royal Secret, is out now.

For more information visit Andrew’s website, or follow him on Twitter @andrewjrtaylor.

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