Friday, 6 July 2018

The Road to Newgate by Kate Braithwaite
Release Date: 16th July 2018
Publisher: Crooked Cat Books
Genres: Historical Fiction (crime / mystery)

What price justice?
London 1678.
Titus Oates, an unknown preacher, creates panic with wild stories of a Catholic uprising against Charles II. The murder of a prominent Protestant magistrate appears to confirm that the Popish Plot is real.

Only Nathaniel Thompson, writer and Licenser of the Presses, instinctively doubts Oates’s revelations. Even his young wife, Anne, is not so sure. And neither know that their friend William Smith has personal history with Titus Oates.

When Nathaniel takes a public stand, questioning the plot and Oates’s integrity, the consequences threaten them all.

“Mr. Thompson?”
                At my side is a skinny fellow that Henry sometimes employs to deliver our pamphlets about the coffee shops. His sort often has a nose for news and will know if an arrest has been made or a scandal is brewing. He knows something now. I smell it on him, read it in the eager nod of his head. God knows, there’s gossip aplenty in the city, with talk of a missing magistrate and arrests of prominent Catholic Lords, so I turn my back on Anne, anxious for news. My conscience may creak as I listen to the young lad’s tale, but that’s easily ignored. Easily that is, until the sound of an altercation causes us both to twist round.
                A woman, tall and sharp-featured, her lips pulled back from her teeth in bare anger, has her hand on Anne’s arm and is screeching at her. For a moment, I’m dumbfounded. I step towards them, but not quickly enough. In that split second, the woman tilts back her head and hurls a plume of spit right into my wife’s face.
                No-one moves. Then the woman disappears into the crowd and Anne does her best to make light of it. She wipes her face, shows me her new bag, and insists on continuing about the fair as if nothing has happened. All she will say is that the woman was obviously deranged, some Bedlamite; quite a sorry case, in fact. I squeeze her hand, proud that my young wife can be so composed. And then I put it out of my mind.
                In my defence, there is little enough time to remember it or question Anne further in the days that follow. The rumour whispered to me at the fair is the main news on everyone’s lips by the next morning. A man has been found dead in a ditch on Primrose Hill. He is identified as the missing magistrate, Sir Edmund Godfrey.

What a delightful treat for those lovers of historical fiction who like a bit of mystery and crime attached! The Road to Newgate is perfect for such readers. Based on true events, Kate Braithwaite has managed to create characters and situations that both draw the reader in and sometime shock at the same time. Her depiction of London in the 1600's paints a picture of a grim place where suspicion could easily fall on a man or woman at the word of another with dire consequences.

The story is told from the perspectives of the main characters and this gives an interesting insight into their feelings and worries about the situation they find themselves in. All drawn together because of the accusations of an odious man - Titus Oates. Lives are put on the line because of him and Anne and her husband Nathaniel must decide whether to take a stand against him. They need to find out more about Titus. But, is the risk to great?  They begin to question not only themselves but those around them. Who is friend and who is foe?

Kate Braithwaite has a beautiful writing style and the plot of this story made me want to keep reading. I became immersed in the story and the characters and found it absolutely intriguing. I adore books based on real events and the author has really made the events of 1678 really come alive. To be honest, the Popish plot was not something I was very familiar with so the book provided interesting perspectives of the events as they unfolded. An interesting read that I'd highly recommend. It was very clear that Kate Braithwaite had done massive amounts of research for this book and this is reflected in the writing. I thoroughly enjoyed it. 

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Kate Braithwaite was born and grew up in Edinburgh, Scotland. Her first novel, Charlatan, was longlisted for the Mslexia New Novel Award and the Historical Novel Society Award. Kate lives in Pennsylvania with her husband and three children.

Twitter: @kmbraithwaite
Instagram: katembraithwaite

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