Rags of Time - Michael Ward (ARC)
Thomas Tallant, a young and ambitious Spice Merchant, returns from India to find his city in turmoil. A bitter struggle is brewing between King Charles I and Parliament, as England slides into civil war. The capital is simmering with dissent. The conflict is ready to boil over. But Thomas soon has other troubles to contend with. A wealthy merchant, Sir Joseph Venell, is savagely killed; then his partner Sir Hugh Swofford plunges to his death, in the Tallant household.
Suspicion falls on Thomas, who is sucked into a mire of treachery and rumour within the City of London. As the merchant struggles to clear his name, he becomes captivated by the enigmatic Elizabeth Seymour, whose passion for astronomy and mathematics is matched only by her addiction to the gaming tables.
Pursued by the authorities, Thomas races to unmask the real killer who claims a third victim to implicate him further, toying with his future in a deadly cat and mouse game.
In a desperate race against time, Elizabeth applies her powers of logic and deduction to unearth the clues that will point to the killer, but her way is barred by a secret message from the grave. Can she crack its code before Thomas, now a wounded and exhausted fugitive, succumbs to the chase? And, if she succeeds, has Thomas the strength to face his tormentor and win his life and reputation back?
Rags of Time is the first book in an engaging and entertaining new historical crime series, set during the upheaval of the 17th Century. Recommended for fans of Andrew Taylor, CJ Sansom and SJ Parris."
I received a copy of Rags of Time by Michael Ward for free by the author in exchange for an honest review. Since receiving this book the cover has changed, so the photos in this post are of the original cover. It is available on GoodReads and Amazon.
In Rags of Time we join our protagonist Thomas Tallant in the year 1639 as he returns to London after spending two years in India as a spice merchant. Upon his return, a prominent merchant close to the King has been murdered under strange and haunting circumstances. When asked for his help surveying the crime scene, Tom reveals a bit too much of his expertise and quickly becomes a prime suspect in the investigation. As he searches for the true culprit he gets caught up in conspiracies threatening a civil war, some family drama and an unexpected romance.
Tom is impulsive, modern thinking for the time period and charming. He'd prefer to just carry on with his life and his job but trouble keeps managing to find him wherever he goes. Deep down he has a caring heart and this is fully showcased when he becomes entranced with the enigmatic Elizabeth Seymour. With Elizabeth he opens up more and reveals the mistakes he's made in the past and wants to help her avoid the same path. On top of everything else he is also torn between becoming a Member of Parliament or being a spy for the King in the turbulent times where there are tensions between Parliament and the monarchy and the public are picking sides between the two and the country is on the precipice of a civil war.
I enjoyed the time period that this story was set in. It is a really unique setting and an interesting time in English history. If you're not familiar with this part of history it would definitely be worth looking it up alongside the book to fully immerse yourself in the tensions of the time between the parliamentarians and royalists and the build up to the civil war in the 1640's - just because it is fascinating however you can still enjoy and understand the story without it! I'm just a bit of a history nerd, I love it!
The story had a good flow and was jam packed with action! There was so much descriptive and colourful imagery that I felt like I could be walking the streets of London next to Tom. It was very well researched, intelligent and funny. It is a good read for those who liked These Lost & Broken Things which is another historical fiction that I reviewed a while back that has similar themes and also deals with gambling addiction issues. Additionally, if you love the TV show Father Brown (which is beloved by those in the UK especially me!) then you'll love this!
Rags of Time is a suspenseful murder mystery entwined with conspiracies and sides being chosen amidst the beginnings of a civil war and is definitely an interesting read!