The Cheapside Corpse by Susanna Gregory
Tom Chaloner is back from a sojourn in Yorkshire and this time Susanna Gregory has him sleuthing everyone’s current detestable members of society - bankers. More precisely, it is the Goldsmiths of London who are rapidly getting richer and richer at the expense of... well everyone in London, to be honest. Everyone’s got a motive to murder it seems. Throw in embezzlement, curtain thievery, gangland struggles, musicians and medics and you've got another dirty investigation for our Restoration sleuth. The more immediate problem for Tom is closer to home given that his wife, Hannah, has mired them in so much debt they’re forced to sell everything and move out of their home for a while whilst he reluctantly takes employment from Spymaster Williamson to cover their debts. As he ruefully asks himself: “he walked… wondering what had possessed him to marry a woman with whom he had so little in common, and who was about to land him in a debtors’ gaol into the bargain.” Something many readers of Gregory have queried in past novels.
The plot in this latest instalment is as convoluted as we’d expect form Susanna Gregory: we open with a run on the banks that have left weaker goldsmiths either bankrupt or dead. The remainder are sitting pretty on mountains of gold: Backwell and Rich Taylor being top of the glittering pile. With them is the newest Cheapside crime king – Baron – a man with a sense of ‘honour among thieves’ yet a brutal personality when needed (and an odd love of horses). Meanwhile Earl Clarendon is tasking Tom to both get his missing curtains (a mission that involves him with the interior designer, Neve), to investigate Baron for the murder of Dick Wheler, and to deduce what happened to his dead spy, Georges DuPont. The latter’s been dead two months, Williamson couldn't figure out why… but Clarendon thinks it’ll be easy for Tom. Throw in a murder of a medicus, Coo, and you've got a trio of unexplained, but inextricably linked, murders to solve.
Off he goes into the depths of this novel to meet a host of nefarious, mendacious, gullible, sly, inept and oleaginous characters. Taylor has three sons: the cowardly bully, Evan, the laconic Randal – a man given over to profitable marriages and slanderous pamphlets – and Tom’s old friend, Silas. There’s Randal’s wife, Joan (ex-wife of the dead Wheler), who’s got a grudge against Baron because he's taken over the “brothels, gambling dens, and Protection Tax”. We also have Lettice and Shaw, a couple who own a musical shop; another physician is in the mix, Misick; the hired thugs Doe and Poachin, plus a host of other shady characters. There's also the usual haunts of Tom populated with familiar faces for those who have read all Gregory's novels ably led by both Temperance and Wiseman.
By the end of the book more are dead, the plague has struck, a madman is declaiming magical powers from a rooftop, Tom’s been both knocked unconscious and had to enter a blood pact with the assassin, Swaddell, the debts of all of London have caused riots, a cookbook has stirred up a feast of pain, houses have been burned down, and Tom’s found some unlikely friends in odd places. It all causes him “to wonder at the quirks of fate that had led him to join forces with a criminal and an assassin.”
It’s a sleuthing triumvirate that is oddly successful and brings a great deal of pleasure to the reader. Pretty swiftly the threads in Cheapside abound and, as ever with Gregory, we have to understand there’s likely to be several themes, plots, resolutions come the disastrous denouement. Yet, as always with the finest historical murder mystery author alive today (bar none), we are treated to a deft handling of the tale, lose easy hours sunk reading in an armchair, plunge wholly into the world of Restoration London, cheering and groaning in cadence with Gregory’s wonderful narrative.
At the end of it all, there is but one reason for it all, as Lettice sagely observes: “that is what happens when a man so universally hated is dispatched.”
This The Cheapside Corpse book review was written by travelswithacanadian
All reviews for: The Exploits of Thomas Chaloner
A Conspiracy of Violence
The Exploits of Thomas Chaloner: Book 1
The dour days of Cromwell are over. Charles II is well established at White Hall Palace, his mistress at hand in rooms over the Holbein bridge, the heads of some of the reg...
The Cheapside Corpse
The Exploits of Thomas Chaloner: Book 10
London in the spring of 1665 is a city full of fear. There is plague in the stews of St Giles, the Dutch fleet is preparing to invade, and a banking crisis threatens to lea...
The Chelsea Strangler
The Exploits of Thomas Chaloner: Book 11
In the sapping summer heat of 1665 there is little celebration in London of the naval victory at the Battle of Lowestoft. The King, his retinue and anyone with sufficient m...
The Piccadilly Plot
The Exploits of Thomas Chaloner: Book 7
Thomas Chaloner is relieved to be summoned back to London. His master, the Earl of Clarendon, has sent him to Tangier to investigate a case of corruption. Chaloner will be ...
Death in St James's Park
The Exploits of Thomas Chaloner: Book 8
Five years after Charles II's triumphant return to London there is growing mistrust of his extravagant court and of corruption among his officials - and when a cart lad...
Murder on High Holborn
The Exploits of Thomas Chaloner: Book 9
In 1665 England is facing war with the Dutch and the capital is awash with rumours of conspiracy and sedition. These are more frenetic than normal because of the recent sin...
Have you read The Cheapside Corpse?
We've found that while readers like to know what we think of a book they find additional reader reviews a massive help in deciding if it is the right book for them. So if you have a spare moment, please tell us your thoughts by writing a reader's review. Thank you.
The Cheapside Corpse reader reviews
9.5/10 from 1 reviews
There are currently no reader reviews for this book. Why not be the first?
Write a reader review
Thank you for taking the time to write a review on this book, it really makes a difference and helps readers to find their perfect book.
More recommended reading in this genre
The House of Silk
THE GAME'S AFOOT...It is November 1890, and London is gripped by a merciless winter. Sherlock Holmes and Dr Watson are enjoying tea by the fire when an agitated ...
College student Devin Jones took the summer job at Joyland hoping to forget the girl who broke his heart. But he wound up facing something far more terrible: the legacy of ...
Seance for a Vampire
When two suspect psychics offer Ambrose Altamont and his wife the opportunity to contact their recently deceased daughter, the wealthy British aristocrat wastes no time in ...
The Army of Doctor Moreau
Following the trail of several corpses seemingly killed by wild animals, Holmes and Watson stumble upon the experiments of Doctor Moreau. Moreau through vivisection and cru...
Sherlock Holmes vs. Dracula
Loren D Estleman
A mysterious schooner runs aground in an English harbour. Its cargo is fifty boxes of earth; its only living passenger, a black dog. The captain’s body is lashed to t...
Made To Kill
When a familiar-looking woman arrives at the Los Angeles offices of Raymond Electromatic - PI turned hit man and the world’s last robot - he takes on the case of a mi...
Sherlock Holmes: The Spirit Box
Summer, 1915. As Zeppelins rain death upon the rooftops of London, eminent members of society begin to behave erratically: a Member of Parliament throws himself naked into ...
The Osiris Ritual
Death stalks London and the newspapers proclaim that a mummy's curse has been unleashed. Sir Maurice Newbury is drawn into a web of occult intrigue as he attempts to so...
A Study in Brimstone
Warlock Holmes is an idiot. Frankly, he couldn't deduce his way out of a paper bag. The only thing he has really got going for him are his arcane power, the might of a ...
A Study In Sable
Psychic Nan Killian and medium Sarah Lyon-White, and their clever birds, the raven Neville and the parrot Grey, have been agents of the Elemental Fire Master, Lord Alderscr...
The Stalwart Companions
H Paul Jeffers
Before Sherlock Holmes formed his longstanding alliance with the imitable Dr Watson, one of his earliest investigations was alongside the future President of the United Sta...
The Seventh Bullet
Daniel D Victor
Sherlock Holmes’ desire for a peaceful life in the Sussex countryside is dashed when true-life muckraker and author David Graham Phillips is assassinated, leaving beh...
The plan: to rob the Reina, a super-luxury hotel off the coast of Spain. The crew: three seasoned criminals with the skills to pull off the heist of the century. The edge: ...
The Man from Hell
In 1886, wealthy philanthropist Lord Backwater was found beaten to death in the grounds of his estate. As Sherlock Holmes and Dr Watson strive to unravel the mystery, many ...
Sherlock Holmes: Gods of War
It is 1913. The clouds of war are gathering. The world’s great empires vie for supremacy. Europe is in turmoil, a powder keg awaiting a spark. A body is discovered on...
Looking for more suggestions? Try these pages:
Best of 2016
A Study in Brimstone
Warlock Holmes is an idiot. Frankly, he couldn't deduce his way out of a paper bag. The only thing he has really got going for him are his arcane power, the might of a tho...
Books of the Month
A selection of books - old and new alike - that were a joy to read.
The Pirate Isles are united under Drake Morrass’ flag, but the war has only just begun. There’s still a long way to go before he’s able to call himself King, and traitors at every turn. The Five Kingdoms and Sarth have assembled a fleet of ships unlike any the world has ever seen and they intend to purge the Pirate Isles once a...
Ian C Esslemont
After the disappointments of Li Heng, Dancer and Kellanved wash up on a small insignificant island named Malaz. Immediately, of course, Kellanved plans to take it over. To ...
Age of Swords
Michael J Sullivan
Raithe, the God Killer, may have started the rebellion by killing a Fhrey, but long-standing enmities dividing the Rhunes make it all but impossible to unite against the co...
A Time of Dread
The Ben-Elim, a race of warrior angels, once vanquished a mighty demon horde. Now they rule the Banished lands. But their dominion is brutally enforced and their ancient en...
The Last Dog on Earth
Adrian J Walker
Every dog has its day... And for Lineker, a happy go lucky mongrel from Peckham, the day the world ends is his: finally a chance to prove to his owner just how loyal he can...
The Shadow Crucible
Taking humanity back to their primordial beliefs and fears, Estella confronts Mikhail’s faith by revealing the true horror of the lucrative trade in human souls. All ...
The Dog Stars
Hig, bereaved and traumatised after global disaster, has three things to live for - his dog Jasper, his aggressive but helpful neighbour, and his Cessna aeroplane. He's...