The Shadows of London is book 6 in the Marwood and Lovett series. This is confusing, because it’s been Marwood and Hakesby for some time now. I have jumped books 2 to 4, thanks to ARCs from the publishers and Netgalley. You can check out the others, the Ashes of London, and The Royal Secret, if you’d like.
The Shadows of London (Marwood and Lovett #6)
by Andrew Taylor
The damage caused by the Great Fire still overshadows the capital. When a man’s brutally disfigured body is discovered in the ruins of an ancient almshouse, architect Cat Hakesby is ordered to stop restoration work. It is obvious he has been murdered, and Whitehall secretary James Marwood is ordered to investigate.
It’s possible the victim could be one of two local men who have vanished – the first, a feckless French tutor connected to the almshouse’s owner;
the second, a possibly treacherous employee of the Council of Foreign Plantations.
The pressure on Marwood mounts as Charles II’s most influential courtiers, Lord Arlington and the Duke of Buckingham, show an interest in his activities – and Marwood soon begins to suspect the murder trail may lead right to the heart of government.
Meanwhile, a young, impoverished Frenchwoman has caught the eye of the king, a quiet affair that will have monumental consequences… [goodreads]
For the first quarter of the Shadows of London I was adrift, not really enjoying all the people and gruesome events. It all seemed to chop and change. The thread, if it was there, was tangled but not in an enticing way like most thrillers. Then it improved, the stakes became clearer, the confusion dwindled, and a really exciting historical tale unfolded.
But there is one thing I finally worked out about this series: why I feel uncomfortable with the two main characters. It’s not to do with their personalities or characters, or their motivation, which is usually excellent. It’s the writing of them. And in the kindle versions I’m reading, there is little to distinguish one paragraph from another. You can go from a paragraph involving ‘her’ meaning Cat Hakesby, straight into a paragraph involving ‘her’ meaning Louise de Keroualle, the young Frenchwoman not even awarded a name in the blurb. I lost count of the number of times I had to go back and reread a paragraph or three once I realised we had changed characters.
And then.. the same thing would happen when switching from events involving Cat to events involving Marwood, although after a couple of paragraphs, I realised that we were now in first person, whereas Cat is in third. In fact, I is always Marwood.
And that jarred me – is this the root of my whole problem with this series? I do not associate I with Marwood. In the book, I think of I as Cat. I am a woman. So the question comes, is Andrew Taylor actually writing for male readers?
If his editors and publisher haven’t discussed this with him, I really think they should.
So good story, eventually, yet flaws in the writing. I may not bother with the others in the series after all.
3 thoughts on “Book Review | The Shadows of London by Andrew Taylor”
I think this is a great review. I was just reading another review citing the same problem. Shifting points of view, sometime in the same paragraph. We’ve gone from the edict of never shifting points of view to anything goes!
Thanks, Noelle. I was wondering whether I was being too harsh. I’m having trouble with my books this year. This POV problem, the infodump last week, and I was just congratulating the one I’m reading now for giving us great information within the plot, when she goes and gives us the antagonist’s motivation/plot reveal at 20%. I really didn’t want to know that. Not until about 80%, anyway. It’s my M for the A to Z Challenge, so I can’t give up now…
Good review. I really appreciate the way you figure out what the problem is. I think I’ll pass—gruesome events and writing issues—that’s two black marks. I can do better.