The Butcher of Smithfield (Thomas Chaloner Series #3)

Overview


Thomas Chaloner, just returned from a clandestine excursion to Spain and Portugal on behalf of the Queen, finds London dank and grey under leaden skies. Although he has only been away for a short while, he finds many things changed, including the government slapping a tax on printed newspapers. Handwritten news reports escape the duty, and the rivalry between the producers of the two conduits of news is the talk of the coffeehouses, with the battle to be first with any sort of intelligence escalating into ...
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Overview


Thomas Chaloner, just returned from a clandestine excursion to Spain and Portugal on behalf of the Queen, finds London dank and grey under leaden skies. Although he has only been away for a short while, he finds many things changed, including the government slapping a tax on printed newspapers. Handwritten news reports escape the duty, and the rivalry between the producers of the two conduits of news is the talk of the coffeehouses, with the battle to be first with any sort of intelligence escalating into violent rivalry. And it seems that a number of citizens who have eaten cucumbers have come to untimely deaths. It is such a death which Chaloner is despatched to investigate; that of a lawyer with links to "the Butcher of Smithfield," a shady trader surrounded by a fearsome gang of thugs who terrorize the streets well beyond the confines of Smithfield market. Chaloner doesn't believe that either this death or the others are caused by a simple vegetable, but to prove his theory he has to untangle the devious means of how news is gathered and he has to put his personal safety aside as he tries to penetrate the rumor mill surrounding the Butcher of Smithfield and discover his real identity.
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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly

Gregory brilliantly evokes 1663 London in her brisk third mystery to feature spy Thomas Chaloner (after 2007's Blood on the Strand).A On returning to England after a perilous mission on the Iberian peninsula, Chaloner finds himself out of favor with his mercurial employer, the earl of Clarendon, England's Lord Chancellor.A He gets a chance to return to the earl's good graces if he can solve the peculiar death of Thomas Newburne, a solicitor and newsman who died after eating a cucumber.A Chaloner soon learns that others have recently perished after a similar meal.A His inquiries into the murky world of journalism and propaganda bring him into conflict with the Butcher of Smithfield, a shadowy thug and associate of Newburne's.A Gregory salts the plot with several tantalizing subsidiary puzzles, and has impressively integrated into the story line not only historical figures but debates about the content of the period's newsletters and newsbooks. (Sept.)

Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.
Kirkus Reviews
Cucumbers are apparently the latest of many dangers to life and limb in Restoration London. Thomas Chaloner, amateur musician and talented spy, is just home from a mission in Portugal. He returns dead broke to ramshackle lodgings, ruined clothes and a letter from a musician seeking his advice. A request for back pay from his employer, the Lord Chancellor, plunges him into a dangerous investigation into the death of Newburne, a shady solicitor working for Ellis Crisp, the Butcher of Smithfield, whose gang of Hectors terrorize London. Newburne was involved in the battle between L'Estrange, publisher of an official printed newsletter full of rants and ads for stolen horses, and the more informative handwritten pamphlets disseminated by Muddiman. Though Newburne is neither the first nor last to die from cucumbers, Chaloner quickly realizes they are a cover for the real causes of death. At the same time, Chaloner is also trying to rescue his friend Leybourn from the clutches of Mary Cade, a woman with a dubious past and felonious friends. All the deaths prove to be interconnected in ways so complex that it takes help from several friends and a former spymaster before Chaloner escapes numerous death attempts and the dangers of London floods to solve the mystery. Chaloner's third, a mine of historical information, poses a staggeringly complicated mystery for its charming hero (Blood on the Strand, 2007, etc.).
From the Publisher

"A mine of historical information."  —Kirkus Reviews

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780751539547
  • Publisher: Little, Brown Book Group
  • Publication date: 3/1/2009
  • Series: Thomas Chaloner Series , #3
  • Pages: 512
  • Sales rank: 568,526
  • Product dimensions: 5.00 (w) x 7.70 (h) x 1.40 (d)

Meet the Author

Susanna Gregory is a Cambridge academic, and the creator of the popular Matthew Bartholomew series.

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