The Vanishing Children (Master Mercurius Mysteries #5) by Graham Brack

‘Mercurius, As you love your country and your Stadhouder, please come at once.’

In this volume of his memoirs, dated 1721, Master Mercurius is now recounting events from 1680. He might have been enjoying his life in Leiden, but once again William of Orange wants his help. William is worried about possible plots against the King of England, and consequences for his country …

‘Where are you going, Mercurius? There’s more.’

… and he wants to raise money to go to war with France. So, he wants Mercurius to go to Amsterdam and meet with its four mayors and convince them to pay their taxes. They have refused, on the basis that war is bad for trade.

Mercurius travels to Amsterdam to meet with the mayors and also to gather information about any plots afoot.

‘However, I am not a moral philosopher for nothing, and one of the tricks of my trade is to harness the power of silence, especially when you have nothing useful to say, so I simply sat and waited for someone else to say something.’

But nothing is ever straightforward, and Mercurius finds himself caught in another mystery. Three Jewish boys have vanished in Amsterdam, and the authorities are doing nothing. Who abducted these boys, and why? Could other children be at risk?

This is another magnificent Master Mercurius mystery. Clever, witty, and full of historical detail. While it could easily be read as a standalone mystery, the series is just a delight. I am now looking forward to the next instalment.

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