My 12 in 12 challenge is designed to address the problem of having so many unread physical books which take up space on my shelves. For January I have been reading 12 crime novels. In the month, however, I have had time to read a couple more than my quota and this one was actually read on my Kindle – it doesn’t help free up shelf space but it does reduce the equally terrifying to-be-read ebook collection of unread titles.
The book I have read and which is book 13 is Fire Catcher by CS Quinn. This is another historical crime story of which there have been a few during the month. It is set in 1666 during the Great Fire of London and is a sequel to the author’s previous book which was set during the plague. It is important that you have read The Thief Taker before you tackle this book as the plot is a continuation of a story in the first novel. I have read the first book in the series but it was some time ago and because I could not immediately remember some of the people and events from the previous story I was a bit adrift from time to time.
The main character of the book is Charlie who is an orphan and works as a thief taker, or private enquiry agent, in London. In this book he begins to unravel the mystery of the strange key he has worn around his neck since he was a child. He is seeking a murderer and he does this in a London which is burning and where nobody or nothing is safe.
In between the story of Charlie is a narrative about the royal court of Charles II, his mistresses and the political situation after the Restoration. This part of the book wasn’t as well done in my opinion and because of how the author portrays the way that the fire begins and spreads it involves actual historical people doing things which are not factual for the purposes of the story. I didn’t really like that aspect of the book although the author was clever in how the facts of the Fire are intermingled with Charlie’s story.
There are also a lot of aspects of superstition and black magic which the author presents as real to the characters who believe in it. I think that a lot of this is historically accurate although I don’t know a huge amount about the belief systems of the time.
This is not a particularly challenging novel and I was slightly impeded in my enjoyment because I could not bring some of the events and characters of the first book to mind. I do think that the spread of the fire and the events around it were well done and that the author is particularly adept at creating a chilling and tension filled atmosphere.