Genre: Historical Fiction
Setting: London, 1817
The main character, Rider Sandman, has just returned to England after the defeat of Napoleon. His family is in disgrace due to his father's suicide. His family's finances in ruins, Rider has sold his commission to raise money to support his mother and sister. Additionally, Rider's engagement to the daughter of a wealthy London banker has been ended due to Rider's poor financial prospects.
Rider is summoned to the office of the Home Secretary. It seems that the Queen has taken an interest in the case of a young artist who is condemned to the gallows for murder. Rider is given temporary employment investigating the crime to determine if there is proof that the artist should not be hanged.
What follows is a page turning story in which the author describes London in 1817 as Rider investigates the crime: the injustice of the gallows, the snobbery of the upper classes, and the plight of the common people.
Bernard Cornwell is one of my favorite authors. He has authored several historical fiction series. What I like about Cornwell's writing style is that he moves the plot forward with each page and chapter. He includes enough description so that the reader understands the action and setting without attempting to impress the reader with the depth of his research.
He is perhaps best known for his Sharpe novels, which follow a soldier during the Napoleonic Wars.
Cornwell's other series are:
The Nathanial Starbuck Chronicles set during the Civil War.
The Grail Quest series in which the main character searches for the Holy Grail.
The Saxon Tales set during the time of King Alfred - the king who united the country of England.