‘I just get things wrong now and again, that’s all.’
Leiden, The Netherlands, 1674. As a result of his success in solving the case of the missing girls in Delft, Master Mercurius has made a name for himself. He is summoned by William of Orange, who, suspicious that there is a plot to overthrow him, wants Master Mercurius to investigate. But before Master Mercurius can start, one of his colleagues at the University of Leiden is murdered.
This novel is presented to us as part of Master Mercurius’s memoir:
‘Now that I am advanced in years, the time has come to set down my memoirs before senility sets in and I can no longer remember what happened.’
Because the story is presented in this way, Master Mercurius has some mischievous fun with the reader in the beginning as he moves backwards and forwards between events. He may not have liked his murdered colleague very much, but who murdered him and why? And then another man is murdered. Is William of Orange in danger? Will Master Mercurius work out who is killing whom before William of Orange runs out of apples?
Poor Master Mercurius. He is both an ordained Protestant Minister and a Catholic Priest. Politics, religion, and an eye for women. At least in his dreams. Life is complicated.
‘That’s the trouble with bishops; they take religion too seriously.’
I really enjoyed this second book in the Master Mercurius series. Mercurius himself is both observant and witty, and there are plenty of laugh out loud moments as he investigates:
‘No doubt you are wondering why I sent Van Looy for you.’
‘I was, of course. A secondary question was why a man of sense would send Van Looy for anything.’
I really enjoyed this novel. Master Mercurius is growing on me (there is a third book I’ve yet to read). If you have not yet made his acquaintance, and you enjoy historical whodunnits with humour, then I can recommend this series. I can also recommend Mr Bracks’s Josef Slonský series as well.
Note: My thanks to NetGalley and Sapere Books for providing me with a free electronic copy of this book for review purposes.