In the twilight years of Henry VIII’s reign, alchemist’s daughter Bianca Goddard uses her skills to aid the living, and help seek justice for the dead . . .
While her husband fights the Scots on behalf of King Henry VIII, Bianca Goddard earns her coin by concocting medicines that offer relief to London’s sick. Some unfortunates, however, are beyond any remedies she can provide–like the young boy discovered hanging from a church dripstone. Examining the body, Bianca finds a rosary twisted around the child’s neck. A week later, another boy is found dead at a different church. When Fisk, the impish little son of Bianca’s acquaintance, goes missing, she fears he may become the third victim . . .
There are many villains who would prey on wayward, penniless boys. But Bianca suspects the killings are not brutal acts of impulse, but something far more calculated. In her room of Medicinals and Physickes she examines the sole piece of evidence: a sweet-smelling, dark-stained cloth. If Bianca can unravel its secret, reputations and lives will be saved. But the expected hour of the next murder is approaching, and a single misstep may mean another boy is lost forever . . .
When I started reading I had no idea that this was Book 5 in the series of Bianca Goddard Mysteries. Nor did I realise that the author actually lives in the US. However neither of these detracted one bit from my enjoyment. The Lost Boys of London is a historical fiction novel – not my usual genre though I do dip in from time to time (Alice Hoffman, Kate Mosse, Andrew Taylor) – but it was a rip-roaring tale of murder and mayhem in Tudor England, which I thoroughly enjoyed.
My only criticism is the convoluted language which initially took some time getting used to and was often quite tiring to read, particularly when it crept into the descriptions as well as the dialogue. However, by half-way I’d forgotten my misgivings and got used to it. I was reading on my Kindle and at the end discovered a glossary of terms – I wish I’d known it was there from the beginning!
In the acknowledgements, the author mentions that she is not a history scholar and apologises for any mistakes she may have made with the facts. Well I am not either, though I did study the Tudors many moons ago for O Level and A Level History. In spite of that my knowledge of the Tudors is quite basic, but then I have to admit that I didn’t care too much (apart from the main facts about Henry VIII and the dissolution of the monasteries). I am not sure that a woman would have been allowed to accompany the police examining murder victims and interviewing members of the church in those days, but as this is a work of fiction I didn’t start checking the facts on Wikipedia.
Actually I really loved this story. It was exciting and the tension built up as we follow both Bianca and her accomplices in London and her husband John, sent away to Scotland to protect the bowmen as they fight the Scots, burning and pillaging the towns and villages. And we mustn’t forget her cat Hobs, who I dearly loved almost as mush as she does.