This is the second novel written by author C.S. Quinn in ‘The Thief Taker’ series. The first is called ‘The Thief Taker‘ and can be found on Amazon.
1666. London Burns. Anad a killer tacking a dangerous secret fuels his own deadly blazes…
Charlie Tuesday is the city’s best thief taker. And as fire ravages London he’s on the hunt for a killer fanning the flames. But time is running out. Each death brings the murderer closer to the ultimate prize – a fabled chest with the power to destroy London.
As flames ravage the city, the thief taker must track the murderer into London’s blackest heart, where smugglers trade and sorcerers conjure. What Charlie begins to unravel is more ancient and powerful than he ever dreamed. Could the Thief Taker hold the key to the dark alchemy of a lost Brotherhood? Only the killer can reveal the truth. But Charlie must find him before fire outruns them both.
My initial attraction to this book was because I read the first and fell in love. I fell in love with Charlie Tuesday, I fell in love with Maria and good old Bitey. I even fell in love with the antagonist Blackstone who despite his flaws and murderous ways, seems to me be a suffering Catholic with a mentally ill wife who believes herself to be a witch.
What I love most about Charlie is not only his gruesome past of being a foundling (abandoned child) but the story that brought about his career as a thief taker and his loathing of shoes. I must say this is definitely the first character I have come across who does not wear shoes, ever.
You should read ‘The Thief Taker’ before reading this in order to understand the flow of the narrative as well as, to get an understanding and feel for the characters present and absent. I was disappointed with the removal of Maria from book 1 in book 2, and how she was subsequently replaced by Gypsy courtesan Lily Boswell; knife-wielding, revenge seeking beauty with her own sordid past.
I also loved the fact that C.S. Quinn not only touches on King Charles I’s beheading and his son’s coronation after the removal of Oliver Cromwell, she incorporates them into her narrative as characters, deeming their lives and story as important as that of Charlie Tuesday and his yearning to discover just who he is, and what his key truly hides.
Present on each book in this series so far is a key. This key is the answer to Charlie Tuesday’s life before the foundling hospital, when he still had his mother Sally Oakley, his life before London, and the reasons as to why his mother was ultimately murdered by her employer Thomas Blackstone.
Thomas Blackstone is the villain in every way possible. He’s murdered, he’s committed high treason and he’s trying to cause London to fall. When we are first introduced to Blackstone in ‘The Thief Taker’, it is through his disguise as a ‘Plague Doctor’. From this point we as readers watch his world unravel, due to the Plague’s spread throughout London, his wife’s mental collapse and consequent death, and his fight to reclaim his key from the sons of his former housemaid Sally Oakley. In the ‘Fire Catcher’ Blackstone is the only character C.S. Quinn openly states survives plague after contracting it. Her main description of his long-term effects of this disease is: “Plague had left him a fearsome sight. Bubo scars ate their way across his scalp, leaving a mess of shiny bald wheals in their wake. His remaining clumps of thick black hair were a livid contrast to the purple and red contours” (Chapter 3, page 12).
I do strongly urge you to start reading this series because, not only is it an amazing read, full of murder, mystery and suspense but it’s also full of background information relating to 17th century London. I’ve loved the description of the various classes of the time, of what the foundling hospital was like, how people were able to tell the difference between a noble woman and a prostitute by the colour and structure of their clothing etc.
I could happily go on and on about how excellent this book and it’s precursor is but then you’d get bored and stop visiting my blog, so I really, really, really hope you all go out and buy this. You can get the first book on your kindle for free if you have Kindle Unlimited, if not you’ll have to pay £3.96. ‘Fire Catcher’ cost me for my kindle £3.96 and you can also get this for free if you have Kindle Unlimited.
Go out. Buy it. Read it. Let me know your thoughts in the comments below.