Set during the mid-17th century rule of Oliver Cromwell, L.C. Tyler’s murder mystery A Cruel Necessity is the first in the John Grey series featuring the eponymous young lawyer.
As those loyal to Cromwell conduct a war of espionage and intrigue against those plotting the return of a monarch after the English Civil War, Grey struggles to work out who to trust, who to suspect and who to flee from. The author plays a nice double bluff on the reader, holding out an apparent obvious ‘oh they did it…’ clue in front of the reader which Grey keeps on failing to notice, but then (keeping this vague to avoid spoilers) finds a plausible yet surprising way to resolve the hint.
The true history of the time is nicely interleaved with fictional events, with even Samuel Pepys popping up for a brief appearance. At times the historical backdrop wears a little thin due to, judging by the author’s acknowledgements, the author’s own newness to the era.
At times the plot is a little clunky, relying on overly formulaic ‘let me just explain it to you’ moments between two characters or implausible plot coincidences, but mostly it’s an enjoyable, high tempo romp set against a plausible historic backdrop.
If you like this, you might also be interested in C.J. Sansom’s Dominion.
Got a view on this review? Then please rate it on Amazon.