SECOND OPINION: Destroying Angel by S.G. Maclean

Review published on August 8, 2018.

It’s not often that I rush to buy the next in the series of crime novels as soon as it’s published and in hardback too! But the brilliant series about Cromwell’s Protectorate chief spy Damien Seeker never disappoints.

This is the third in the series and moves Seeker up north to York in 1655 where the city is under the command of Colonel Robert Lilburne and Seeker is ordered out to the village of Faithly on the moors to update the local commissioner on anti-Royalist laws and anything else that might be simmering.

The village is preparing for the visit of the Trier, a government-appointed enforcer of Puritan law, with the local cleric on trial and many grudges of the past and present-day whispers of witches abounding.

When the commissioner’s young ward Gwendolen is poisoned and he discovers links to his own past, Damien Seeker has far more to do than just maintain the law.

You don’t need to have read the previous two books to start on this plot (but do treat yourself to Seeker’s past exploits in London!) and Maclean builds a realistic picture of the world in rural Yorkshire and within the walls of the ancient city of York with a light but assured historical sweep.

There are some great characters, many of which seem to relate to taverns and inns (much like the coffee houses in London) like Bess who easily takes to the threatening figure of Seeker and finds, as so many do, a kind-hearted, curious and tender soul. He’s a flawed but formidable leading man.

The plot is interesting and throws up many twists, none of which disappoint in the ending. Maclean is happy not just to resolve all the questions and I am sure a fourth instalment might be in the pipeline – I do hope so!

I wonder whether there might be potential for Damien Seeker to reach the small screen in a TV series as it delves into the dying days of Cromwell’s hold on power? Definitely a favourite personal read and I am sure book groups will love it too.

Philipa Coughlan 5/4

Destroying Angel by S.G. Maclean
Quercus 9781786484161 hbk Jul 2018

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