Death in Delft by Graham Brack

‘It was every bit as awful as I expected.’

1671, Delft.  Three girls have disappeared.  One has been found dead in a shallow grave. The other two are still missing.  Can they survive?  It’s January, and the weather is bitterly cold.

Master Mercurius, a member of the university faculty in Leiden, is called to Delft to investigate the disappearances. Protestantism is dominant in parts of northern Europe and Master Mercurius is an ordained Protestant minister, who happens to also be a Catholic priest. This makes him an interesting character with a wide perspective – which is what he will need to get to the bottom of this case.

And while Master Mercurius is gathering the information he needs to solve this case, he also spends some time with the painter Johannes Vermeer and his family, and with Antonie van Leeuwenhoek (one of my personal heroes of science).

Can the other two girls be found?  Who has abducted them and why?  The story proceeds at a fairly unhurried pace, including a lot of information about 17th century life in Delft as Master Mercurius conducts his (not always welcome) investigations).

I really enjoyed this novel.  It is different (in many ways) from Mr Brack’s Josef Slonský novels and just as enjoyable.  I am now looking forward to the second book in the series.

Note: My thanks to NetGalley and Sapere Books for providing me with a free electronic copy of this book for review purposes.

Jennifer Cameron-Smith