THE PARLIAMENT HOUSE by Edward Marston.
London 1670: Commissioned to design a new house for the merchant Francis Polegate, Christopher Redmayne is pleased that everything has gone without a hitch. To celebrate the success of the venture, Polegate throws a party, but it comes to an abrupt end when one of the guests is murdered on leaving the house ....... With blood staining the doorstep of his new creation, Redmayne can't help but feel involved, and with the help of his good friend, the Puritan Constable Jonathan Bale and his dissolute brother Henry, Redmayne vows to find the killer and bring him to justice.
......... Outer back cover.
FIRST SENTENCE (Chapter 1): The shot came out of nowhere.
MEMORABLE MOMENT (Page 38): She was a short compact Irish-woman with a surging bosom that made her seem much bigger than she really was, and a tongue sharp enough to cut through timber. Talking to the constable, she had a soft, melodious, Irish lilt. Raised in anger, however, the voice of Bridget McCoy, hardened by years in the trade and seasoned with the ripest language, could quell any affray.
KEEP IT OR NOT?: Shelf space decreasing rapidly, I'm being very harsh here by saying this isn't one I'll be keeping - perhaps if it had been a better all-rounder I may have done.
As I'm sure you'll all agree this is the perfect read for the What's In A name 5 Reading Challenge: A book with a type of house in the title category.
The very first novel I've read by this author (its number five in the Christopher Redmayne series but don't let that put you off as it read perfectly well as a novel in its own right), I'm sure it will not be the last.
Set in the London of the late 1600's, The Parliament House is a gripping, often wryly funny, historical novel, a whodunit with a smattering of political intrigue and a dash of romance I found myself totally engrossed.
Multi faceted, I don't know how much research went into the writing of the book but I can't say it worked too well as a historical novel for me as it somehow or other did not always ring true and at times lacked any real sense of authenticity. As for it being a whodunit ..... I can't say it fared much better in this respect either. Oh there were 'red herrings' a plenty but even I worked it out way before the big reveal.
No, for me it was the wonderful array of characters that made this such a special read. Beautifully penned, all of the players, both minor as well as major, were a total joy to read, the interaction between them second to none. I loved the personal and professional relationships that existed between Christopher Redmayne and Constable Jonathan Bale and as for the Serle's, husband and wife, the somewhat overbearing Brilliana and the henpecked Lancelot? They were superb and so, so humorous. My only complaint - I wish we had seen a little bit more of down-to-earth landlady Bridget McCoy and her 'dim witted' son Patrick.
Highly recommend if characters play an important role in your reading, you may not enjoy this as much if you are expecting a great historical whodunit.