The Fire Court

The Fire Court

From No.1 bestselling author Andrew Taylor comes the sequel to the phenomenally successful The Ashes of LondonSomewhere in the soot-stained ruins of Restoration London, a killer has gone to ground ...The Great Fire has ravaged London, wreaking destruction and devastation wherever its flames spread. Now, guided by the incorruptible Fire Court, the city is slowly rebuilding, b/>Somewhere...

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Title:The Fire Court
Author:Andrew Taylor
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Edition Language:English

The Fire Court Reviews

  • Kate

    This is an excellent follow up to The Ashes of London, set in the aftermath of the Great Fire of London. As London attempts to rebuild its ruins, a great deal of money is at stake. Murder ensues and James Marwood's father is one of the first to die. It couldn't be more personal - or more painful - for Marwood. Andrew Taylor sets the scene perfectly in what is a marvellous and pacey historical mystery. Review to follow shortly.

  • Helen

    This is the second in Andrew Taylor’s new historical mystery series set during and after the Great Fire of London. The first book,

    , set in 1666, deals with the Fire itself and the devastation it causes, as well as introducing us to our protagonists – James Marwood, son of a Fifth Monarchist, and Cat Lovett, daughter of a regicide involved in the execution of King Charles I. It’s not completely necessary to have read

    before beginning

    as they both work as stand

    This is the second in Andrew Taylor’s new historical mystery series set during and after the Great Fire of London. The first book,

    , set in 1666, deals with the Fire itself and the devastation it causes, as well as introducing us to our protagonists – James Marwood, son of a Fifth Monarchist, and Cat Lovett, daughter of a regicide involved in the execution of King Charles I. It’s not completely necessary to have read

    before beginning

    as they both work as standalone mysteries, but I would still recommend it.

    In

    , we watch as London begins to rebuild in the aftermath of the Great Fire. With so much of the city destroyed, so many homes and businesses burned to the ground, there’s a lot of rebuilding to be done! Naturally, this gives rise to disputes between landlords and tenants, and disagreements as to how land should be redeveloped and who is responsible for paying for it. A special court is established to deal with all of this: the Fire Court.

    At the beginning of the novel, James Marwood’s elderly father dies after falling beneath the wheels of a wagon in a London street, but not before he has time to tell James about a horrific discovery he made in one of the chambers of the Fire Court – the body of a murdered woman, with blood on her yellow gown. At first, Marwood dismisses these claims as the ramblings of an old, ill man, but when he begins to investigate he comes across some clues which suggest that maybe his father was telling the truth after all.

    Marwood wants to find out more, but it seems that his employers – Joseph Williamson, the Under-Secretary of State, and William Chiffinch, Keeper of the King’s Private Closet – would prefer him to leave things alone. He can’t walk away now, though; he’s already much too deeply involved. Others have become caught up in the mystery too, among them Cat Lovett who, following the events of the previous novel, is now living in the household of her cousin Simon Hakesby, the architect – and another young woman, Lady Jemima Limbury, whose marriage, it appears, is based on lies and deceit. All of these people have a part to play in the mystery that unfolds and none of them know who to trust.

    I enjoyed

    , but I thought

    was even better. The plot was a complex, interesting one and with the focus on lawyers and court cases, it reminded me at times of CJ Sansom’s

    novels, which I love. Being the second book in the series, I felt that both main characters – Marwood and Cat – are starting to feel more fully developed now. I sympathised with Marwood’s conflicting feelings for his father and the dilemma he faces when he is forced to choose between his two masters, Williamson and Chiffinch. As for Cat, she continues to be in a dangerous position should her true identity be discovered, so she has taken the name Jane Hakesby and is pretending to be her cousin’s servant. In her situation, you would think it would be a good idea to keep a low profile, but with her courageous and fiery personality, she does nothing of the sort! I really like the way the relationship between Marwood and Cat is progressing; it has taken a while, but they are beginning to trust each other and work together.

    There are some interesting secondary characters in this book too, ranging from Marwood’s servant, Sam, who lost a leg in the wars against the Dutch, to the sinister Lucius Gromwell, in whose room the murdered woman was found. I particularly enjoyed reading about Jemima Limbury: her background and lifestyle are very different from Cat’s but the situation in which she finds herself is no easier to endure.

    I’m looking forward to reading more books about James Marwood and Cat Lovett!

  • Paromjit

    Andrew Taylor takes us back to the 17th century in the aftermath of the Great Fire of London in The Ashes of London, to the setting up of The Fire Court with 3 judges, designed by the king to get London rebuilt, resolving land and property disputes that have have arisen due to the fire. James Marwood is doing relatively well with two clerkships under two different masters, and served by the loyal and courageous Sam and Margaret, his housekeeper. His religious father, Nathaniel, has not recovered

    Andrew Taylor takes us back to the 17th century in the aftermath of the Great Fire of London in The Ashes of London, to the setting up of The Fire Court with 3 judges, designed by the king to get London rebuilt, resolving land and property disputes that have have arisen due to the fire. James Marwood is doing relatively well with two clerkships under two different masters, and served by the loyal and courageous Sam and Margaret, his housekeeper. His religious father, Nathaniel, has not recovered from his years in prison, is afflicted with dementia, this has him thinking he is following his dead wife, Rachel, to the Clifford's Inn, where he sees a dead sinful woman, he assumes to be a whore. A disbelieving James puts this tale down as a product of his father's failing mental health. The death of his father has him descending to a stupor of grief, compounded by guilt when he realises Nathaniel was telling the truth.

    Marwood is driven to find out what is going on, which leads him to encountering the sinister Lucius Gromwell of Clifford's Inn and Sir Philip Limbury bent on acquiring the lucrative rights to plan and rebuild Dragon's Yard, but they are opposed by other tenants and leaseholders, primarily led by Roger Poulson. Cat Lovett is living under the radar as maid, Jane Hakesby, with family member, Simon Hakesby, a struggling architect and builder. Marwood draws Jane into his investigations which bring considerable danger to the two of them. The dead woman turns out to be wealthy widow Celia Hampney, the niece of Poulson, with a considerable stake in Dragon's Yard, with the capacity to impede Limbury's plans for the place. Celia's murder is the first of many, and Marwood finds himself caught between court and political chicanery, corruption and intrigue, forced to choose between Joseph Williamson and William Chaffinch who has the ear of the King. Marwood pays a heavy price for continuing to search for the truth as he finds himself scarred for life, and Cat is drawn into the web of danger as she seeks to help Marwood.

    Taylor writes compelling historical fiction, evoking a London undergoing tumultuous change, where survival is a struggle, poverty is everywhere and the only rights that count are those of the aristocracy and those with political power. It is to be expected that many ambitions, rivalries and jealousies are rampant, with many looking to make a pretty penny through their connections and corruption. Taylor captures this exquisitely with the picture he paints of a London where, thanks to the fire, much is at stake and peoples' lives are hanging by a mere thread. Marwood and Cat are enterprising and determined central characters, compelling and charismatic. The acute deprivations and lack of rights suffered by women applies across the classes as can be seen by the treatment that Jemima undergoes at the hands of her husband. This is brilliant historical fiction, a worthy sequel to the wonderful The Ashes of London. Highly recommended! Many thanks to HarperCollins for an ARC.

  • Caz

    is the sequel to Andrew Taylor’s

    , an historical mystery that opened dramatically during the Great Fire of London and then proceeded to unravel a tale of murder and betrayal stretching back decades, to the reign of Cromwell and Charles I.  This novel reunites the protagonists of the earlier book – James Marwood and Cat Lovett – as they become entangled in the complicated business of the Fire Court, a body set up to oversee and settle any disputes that arise as a res/>The

    is the sequel to Andrew Taylor’s

    , an historical mystery that opened dramatically during the Great Fire of London and then proceeded to unravel a tale of murder and betrayal stretching back decades, to the reign of Cromwell and Charles I.  This novel reunites the protagonists of the earlier book – James Marwood and Cat Lovett – as they become entangled in the complicated business of the Fire Court, a body set up to oversee and settle any disputes that arise as a result of the rebuilding of the city after the fire.  With so many buildings damaged or destroyed, Parliament is eager to rebuild as soon as possible, and the Fire Court is charged with helping that along by settling legal disputes about leases, land boundaries and other matters pertaining to property ownership.  With greed and corruption snaking through the business of the court, the stakes are high for many – and for some, are high enough to commit murder.

    Seven months after the events of the previous book, James Marwood is comfortably settled and is prospering financially in his posts as clerk to Joseph Williamson (Under-Secretary of State to Lord Arlington) and clerk to the Board of Red Cloth, a department attached closely to the king’s household.  He is still caring for his elderly, mentally unstable father, but early in the story, Mr. Marwood senior dies in an accident leaving his son with little other than some confused ramblings about his mother, the rookeries and a woman decked out like a cheap whore in a yellow dress.

    Cat Lovett, who ran from her well-to-do family in order to avoid marriage to her smarmy cousin (who raped her) is still in hiding and has adopted the name and persona of Jane Hakesby, cousin and servant to Simon Hakesby, a well-respected architect.  Cat is a talented draughtsman herself, although as a woman, the profession is barred to her, but Hakesby - who is not in the best of health – allows her to assist him on occasion and to make her own designs under his auspices.  At the beginning of the novel, she is attending the proceedings of the Fire Court, partly to take notes (and to practice her newly learned shorthand) and partly to attend her master, who is there to watch out for the interests of one of that day’s petitioners.

    Marwood and Cat have not encountered each other in the intervening months and don’t expect to do so, as they move in very different circles.  But they are drawn together again after Williamson instructs Marwood to accompany him to view the body of a woman found dead in the ruins of what seems to have been the cellar of a house.  The woman’s garish clothing suggests she may have been a whore, but that isn’t the case; she’s identified as a wealthy widow, which explains the government’s interest in the woman’s fate.  Charged with finding out as much as he can about the murder, Marwood is suddenly reminded of his late father’s last ramblings – which it seems may not have been ramblings at all.  But while Williamson wants answers, Chiffinch, Keeper of the King’s Private Closet (and Marwood’s other employer) wants things left alone; but Marwood is already too involved to stop looking for answers – which come at a very high personal cost.

    As in the previous book, Marwood’s portions of the tale are told in the first person, while Cat’s are in the third, and I had no problems whatsoever with the juxtaposition of styles.  We find out a little more about both characters here, as they do about each other; in

    , they encountered each other only briefly although their stories intersected frequently, and in the dramatic climax of the story, Marwood saved Cat’s life. It’s this that prompts her to go against Hakesby’s wishes when Marwood asks for her help, and leads to her being drawn into intrigue and danger as she, too, becomes involved in the investigation into the murder.

    My one criticism about

    was that I didn’t quite feel as though I got to know either Cat or Marwood, but here, they’re starting to feel more fleshed out.  Marwood is a pleasant young man who just wants to live a comfortable, quiet life as he tries to live down his father’s reputation as a radical and former Fifth Monarchist. I sympathised with his conflicting feelings for his difficult, sometimes demanding father,  and with the dilemma of his divided loyalties and the need to make a choice between his two employers.  Cat continues to be prickly and defensive, but her position is a precarious one; she cannot risk being found by her family or she will be forced into an unwanted marriage.  She’s observant and sharp-tongued, brave and loyal, and I was pleased to see the slowly developing trust between her and Marwood.

    Although I found the book a little slow to start, I was hooked within a few short chapters and eager to see where things were going.   Mr. Taylor’s research is impeccable and has clearly been extensive; his descriptions of post-Fire London are incredibly evocative, and he paints a wonderfully vivid picture of a city in a state of flux, where poverty is rife and life is a daily struggle for many.  It’s not essential to have read

    in order to enjoy and understand this novel, although I’d recommend it in order to gain a fuller appreciation of the historical context and of the evolution of the relationship between Cat and Marwood. 

    is a complex, absorbing read, full of political and legal intrigue, high-stakes situations for our two protagonists, and I thoroughly enjoyed it. Fans of intricate, well-written historical mysteries will find much to enjoy, and I’m eager to see what’s in store for

    in the next book in the series.

     

  • Keith Currie

    Playing with fire

    A sequel to The ashes of London and featuring many of the same characters, this is an intelligent and well-written murder mystery. While it is clear that there is much illegal activity happening in the wake of the Great Fire of London, much of it concerned with property fraud, there is also the possibility that James Marwood’s Puritan father, a sufferer of Dementia, has witnessed the murder of a young woman close to where the Fire Court sits. This court has been set

    Playing with fire

    A sequel to The ashes of London and featuring many of the same characters, this is an intelligent and well-written murder mystery. While it is clear that there is much illegal activity happening in the wake of the Great Fire of London, much of it concerned with property fraud, there is also the possibility that James Marwood’s Puritan father, a sufferer of Dementia, has witnessed the murder of a young woman close to where the Fire Court sits. This court has been set up by King Charles to expedite property cases and to hasten the rebuilding of the city.

    When Marwood’s father dies in a street accident shortly after making his confused revelations, Marwood becomes obsessed that his father had been telling the truth about a murder and begins an investigation. This quickly becomes dangerous for him and for his rather reluctant ally, Cat Lovett. There are red herrings galore here and there is a clever twisting plot which leads Marwood to much suffering, both emotional and physical. Marwood’s relationship with the prickly Cat Lovett takes a number of surprising turns. The solution to the mystery is unexpected, but, I confess, a bit depressing too.

  • Claire

    This review was originally posted on

    .

    I read the first installment in this historical mystery series -

    - right before moving onto this book. And while I'm sure you could read and enjoy

    without having to read book 1 - it is a new mystery which introduces a group of new characters - I would recommend seeking out

    first. A lot of my enjoyment in reading book 2 came from seeing how es

    This review was originally posted on

    .

    I read the first installment in this historical mystery series -

    - right before moving onto this book. And while I'm sure you could read and enjoy

    without having to read book 1 - it is a new mystery which introduces a group of new characters - I would recommend seeking out

    first. A lot of my enjoyment in reading book 2 came from seeing how established characters and their relationships developed under the pressures of this plot, and in this regard there certainly is a great deal going on. I can only praise the author for giving us high stakes: he isn't afraid to put his main characters in true peril and let them get hurt. I lost count of the number of times Cat had call to use or threaten to use her knife in self-defence!

    The details of London and life in the aftermath of the Great Fire continue to be fascinating. I had a nice chuckle at a reference to the dissolute Earl of Rochester (who wrote some poetry as scandalous as his behaviour) and realised that I did learn something about the period at university after all! I particularly enjoyed the reminder that London Bridge once had buildings on it, similar to the Ponte Vecchio in Florence - a featured which is important to the story's climatic action.

    I would repeat the warning I made in my review of book 1: if you're looking for a past-faced murder mystery, this isn't it. To give you an idea: a woman is murdered in chapter 1, but we don't find out who she is until a third of the way through the book. If you prefer your stories to shift along in higher gear, this probably isn't the series for you.

    While I enjoyed the character development and setting, I wasn't overwhelmingly intrigued or gripped by the mystery itself which is basically a legal thriller with all the suspicious deaths tracing back to a post-fire property case. Perhaps fans of legal dramas and court-case thrillers should give this a try?

  • Emma

    4.5 stars. I felt when I read Ashes of London, that plot and pacing were patchy and yet I really enjoyed it for its historical detail. Having read The Fire Court, I see that the first book was largely setting the scene for this one. Here we become much more invested in the characters. James Marwood is coming into his own and gathering his friends and supporters around him. Cat Lovett / Jane Hakesby also plays a larger part. The story line was a good murder mystery with a last minute twist. The p

    4.5 stars. I felt when I read Ashes of London, that plot and pacing were patchy and yet I really enjoyed it for its historical detail. Having read The Fire Court, I see that the first book was largely setting the scene for this one. Here we become much more invested in the characters. James Marwood is coming into his own and gathering his friends and supporters around him. Cat Lovett / Jane Hakesby also plays a larger part. The story line was a good murder mystery with a last minute twist. The pace was good throughout and I really appreciate that Marwood and Lovett have not been shoved together as a team. A great piece of historical fiction!

    Many thanks to Netgalley for an arc of this book. All opinions are my own.

  • Kathy

    This is a lovely big book from Harper Collins, weighing in at 440 pages. This is a follow-up book to

    , but the first for me by author Andrew Taylor.

    Site of action: London, 1667 or thereabouts.

    The characters are introduced well enough to read this book as a stand alone, but if you like it you will likely wish to read more of the main characters. The way this one ends I will want to follow on to see how things pan out for the main characters.

    Our narrator is James Marwood, clerk

    This is a lovely big book from Harper Collins, weighing in at 440 pages. This is a follow-up book to

    , but the first for me by author Andrew Taylor.

    Site of action: London, 1667 or thereabouts.

    The characters are introduced well enough to read this book as a stand alone, but if you like it you will likely wish to read more of the main characters. The way this one ends I will want to follow on to see how things pan out for the main characters.

    Our narrator is James Marwood, clerk to two men. Another leading character is a young woman who Marwood evidently rescued from the ruins of St Paul's in the previous book and who works under assumed name for her own protection since her father was a Regicide who had died in the previous year plotting against the King.

    Marwood's aged father kicks off the action in this book by wandering away from home following a woman who he thinks is his wife Rachel, long ago deceased. In doing this he ends up entering a building adjacent to the Fire Court where lawyers have offices, believes he has seen evidence of sin and murder in one of the suites and eventually arrives back home with blood stains and a confused story. Marwood is haunted by the mumblings of his father after his return home, trying to remember precisely what he told him before going to sleep. The next day would be the father's last as he was trampled in the street.

    Cat provides support to Marwood after more than one disaster in his pursuit of truth when more people die. He is not a dashing cavalier but a determined young man who tries to find truth seeking justice for victims. He must decide which of the two men he serves is the one to serve. The one he chooses is not entirely sympathetic as he tells him: "You had two masters, Marwood. Now you have one. Take care you do not end up with none."

    I think that is all I should say so as not to ruin the reading experience for others.

  • Mark Harrison

    This was a decent sequel but did not quite hit the heights of the first book as the two heroes from that book investigate a murder at the Fire Court and the death of a loved one. Clever story with a nice twist here and there but just a little unsatisfying by the end.

  • Kirsty

    Dnfed at 30%

    I received a free digital copy of this book from the publisher via NetGalley.

    I just couldn’t put myself through this anymore. I found the first book hard going, and this one was just the same. When you’re finding yourself struggling to read a single page without hating it and falling asleep, you know it’s time to move on. The sad thing is, I’m sure this will have a fantastic ending, as the first book certainly did. I’m just no longer willing to keep forcing myself throug

    Dnfed at 30%

    I received a free digital copy of this book from the publisher via NetGalley.

    I just couldn’t put myself through this anymore. I found the first book hard going, and this one was just the same. When you’re finding yourself struggling to read a single page without hating it and falling asleep, you know it’s time to move on. The sad thing is, I’m sure this will have a fantastic ending, as the first book certainly did. I’m just no longer willing to keep forcing myself through it.

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