In the acknowledgements for The Thief Taker, C.S. Quinn tells how hard it was to convince agents and editors that women could write historical fiction thrillers. Imagine that. They wanted her to write more like historical fiction divas like Philippa Gregory. I’m glad she didn’t cave in.
The Thief Taker is first in a series, and a chilling introduction to London of 1665. You may not recall, but that was a Black Plague year. Three-quarters of the people in London died. And during that crisis, Charlie Tuesday is trying to solve a murder.
Typically, he searches for missing people and things, as well as thieves. That’s what his title means in seventeenth-century London. But he’s been snookered into solving this murder by a beautiful young girl. The urgency builds when he’s actually accused of the selfsame murder.
Our intrepid Thief Taker also has a mystery of his own to solve. He’s called Charlie Tuesday because that’s the day he was abandoned at the foundling hospital. So he’s rightly curious about his own beginnings, including his mysterious and uncommon ability to speak Dutch.
Charlie pursues his answers. Nefarious people pursue him. It’s all very convoluted. Until Quinn does a big reveal, and wraps up Charlie’s adventures. Al least until her next book.
C.S. Quinn tells a good story, with plenty of twists. Charlie is likable, and a bit raffish. The foils, some government types, are pretty nasty dudes. Charlie has a love interest, although I found some of their conflict and later resolution to be predictable.
It’s quite interesting to contemplate life during the Black Plague. Well, I’ll admit, there are some gruesome moments. But it’s books like this that make me grateful for today’s antibiotics and proper sterilization procedures.
I listened to this on audio, narrated by Napoleon Ryan. He creates many voices, with a variety of accents. Often these voices identify whether a character is high-born, which is helpful. But I found that he used the same breathy vocal quality for all of the female characters. Really, that’s not how all women talk.
I’m glad I picked this audiobook from my shelf. It was an entertaining historical mystery, and a solid series debut. Quinn has talent, and she’s clearly blown away the early criticisms.