Source: Review copy
Publication: 18 May 2023 from Canelo Adventure
My thanks to Canelo and Thanhmai Bui Van for an advance copy for review
London, 1716. Revenge is a dish best served ice-cold…
The city is caught in the vice-like grip of a savage winter. Even the Thames has frozen over. But for Jonas Flynt – thief, gambler, killer – the chilling elements are the least of his worries…
Justice Geoffrey Dumont has been found dead at the base of St Paul’s cathedral, and a young male sex-worker, Sam Yates, has been taken into custody for the murder. Yates denies all charges, claiming he had received a message to meet the judge at the exact time of death.
The young man is a friend of courtesan Belle St Clair, and she asks Flynt to investigate. As Sam endures the horrors of Newgate prison, they must do everything in their power to uncover the truth and save an innocent life, before the bodies begin to pile up.
But time is running out. And the gallows are beckoning…
I’m delighted to be returning to Douglas Skelton’s Company of Rogues series – A Thief’s Justice is the second in this series, following An Honourable Thief. It can be read as a stand-alone, but as with all series, it is worth starting from the beginning to get the most out of the characters and their development.
The setting this time is London in all its glory, stench and politicking. Jonas Flynt is doing the bidding of his employer and blackmailer, Colonel Charters of the Company of Rogues. It’s not, on this occasion, such an onerous task. While outside the cold winter has frozen over the Thames, Flynt is well warmed through in a gambling club where he is keeping a watchful eye on Lord August Fairgreave. He doesn’t know why Charters is interested in Fairgreave’s movements; his role is not to question why. But Jonas is a naturally curious chap and what he sees of Fairgreave does not endear him to the man, so much so that he is compelled to step out of the shadows and face him in a confrontation that makes him both a friend, in the person of Judge Sir Geoffrey Dumont and an enemy in Fairgreave.
For all that Jonas Flynt has a colourful past that is not without criminality. he is, nonetheless, a decent man with a good sense of right and wrong and a penchant for helping those in need. So though his acquaintance with Sir Geoffrey Dumont is slight, he liked the man and when Dumont is found dead (and in the process, disgraced) on the steps of St Paul’s, he is minded to accede to the pleas of Belle, a lady of his acquaintance.
Douglas Skelton’s fascinating political mystery is redolent with the sounds and smells of 18th Century London. His writing is engaging and his characters are richly drawn with the fabulous language of the time adding to the colourful, vivid sense of time and place.
The action moves at a good pace and the political intrigue that is spun is beautifully done as we quickly realise that double dealing is the order of the day even in the upper echelons of Georgian political circles.
As Flynt fights to restore honour to the Judge and to rescue a poor young man from Newgate prison, he comes up against a host of despicable characters from the lowest to the high born and he finds that nothing is straightforward and everyone lies.
Putting his own life at risk, Flynt has to tread a careful line to please both Charters and to help the beautiful Belle, as another lady with a powerful pull asks him to help rescue a gentleman from the Tower of London.
Skelton blends fact and fiction together artfully to give us a credible adventure that zings with colourful and unsavoury characters whose language is a joy to drink in.
Verdict: The political quagmire that was British politics under Robert Walpole is beautifully dredged here and the resulting intrigue and espionage is dark, deadly and delightful. Skelton has delivered another fascinating mystery from a protagonist who is fast gaining a place in my heart.
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Douglas Skelton has published twelve non fiction books and ten crime thrillers. He has been a bank clerk, tax officer, shelf stacker, meat porter, taxi driver (for two days), wine waiter (for two hours), reporter, investigator and local newspaper editor. He has been longlisted three times for the McIlvanney Prize, most recently in 2022. Douglas contributes to true crime shows on TV and radio and is a regular on the crime writing festival circuit.
One thought on “A Thief’s Justice by Douglas Skelton (Company of Rogues #2) @DouglasSkelton1 @canelo_co”
Sounds good! x