Historical fiction has become a popular genre with writers like C.J. Samson and his Shardlake novels set in the reign of Henry VIII leading the way.
In some respects these are easy novels to write – as you do not have to invent a whole cast of characters – but (in other respects) demanding as the writer had to research political, military and social history.
Jack Jewers has done a good job in extending the famous diary of Samuel Pepys to the investigation of the irregular accounts of HMS Rupert and the murder of Elias Thorne who had been previously sent to Portsmouth to investigate.
Pepys is accompanied there by his young assistant Matthew Hewer.
There is a lot of action, another murder, the unlawful boarding of HMS Rupert and an escape from Amsterdam.
There is also a lady gang leader – the captivating Charlotte de Vere.
This is now the third novel I have read (the other two by Kate Atkinson and Liz Truss) featuring ‘Queens of Crime’ and one wonders if an editor or literary agent recommended this character in accordance with popular vogue.
Jewers has to master language, dress, food – and even an operation on Pepys to remove stones which is not for the squeamish.
The mystery is unravelled and you could term the novel a page-turner which could make a film or TV series.
Samuel Pepys has always fascinated me, not least because we both attended the same school (St. Paul’s) and Cambridge college (Magdalene).
Jewers has provided a full characterisation of the diarist in the context of an intriguing novel.