His historical novels include the Nick Revill series, set in Elizabethan London, a Victorian sequence, and a series of Chaucer mysteries, now in in e-books.
This is the sixth novel in the Inspector Carlyle series, and - though I haven’t read any of the others - it evidently picks up on some earlier threads and characters, such as a Boris-like mayor.
The story is topical too, with a paedophile priest, the visit of the Pope to London, the murder of a Richard Dawkins-style protester against the papal presence and, on top of all this, a separate jewel robbery case that is reminiscent of a heist in Bond Street not so long ago. Can one Inspector and his sidekick, Alison Roche, deal with all this? It seems so. But no wonder Carlyle is sweary and grumpy, especially when you consider that his domestic backstory gives him as much grief as his job even if, less conventionally, he resorts to cups of green tea rather than the bottle.
Carlyle starts by assaulting the paedo priest in the cells and the threat of an enquiry hangs over him for the course of the book. I felt that this moment came too early and without enough explanation. And the same thing applies to other aspects of an over-crammed story. The jewel robbery results in the murder of a hostage but this almost becomes a footnote in the narrative. The reaction to the murder of the papal protester is curiously low-key, and the solution arrived at bit too easily. Credibility is stretched when a murder suspect is taken to hospital then allowed to escape because his escort pop out for a coffee, just as it is when an under-age boy entraps the paedo priest in a set-up organised by Carlyle and a woman from the NSPCC.
If you put these things aside, there’s quite a bit to enjoy in A Man of Sorrows but it’s less to do with the crimes and more to do with the background characters, like the Boris clone or the assorted members of Carlyle’s family.