London Is Burning

Fire Catcher (The Thief Taker Series, Book 2), by C. S. Quinn, (Thomas & Mercer), 542 pages, release date 10 November, 2015

A little over a year ago, I reviewed the first book in C. S. Quinn’s Thief Taker series (titled, not surprisingly, The Thief Taker). My response to the title was mixed. It offered an interesting protagonist and was set in a fascinating historical period. On the other hand, it read as a romance more than anything else and—despite an interesting premise—didn’t do as much with the time period as it might have.

Fire Catcher picks up not long after The Thief Taker ended and marks a real improvement in the series. This time the book is set during London’s Great Fire of 1666. As the details of his background slowly emerge, the protagonist, Charlie Tuesday, is becoming a richer presence. The tensions between Protestants and Catholics at the time receive greater emphasis. Quinn also involves more historical figures, including many members of the court. In other words, Quinn is now making use of the potential of this historical period, rather than using it as a faintly painted backdrop.

Fire Catcher offers readers a central plot that’s both twisted and compelling. Blackstone, the villain, is a former Catholic radical who was active in the effort to return King Charles to the throne. However, he feels he’s been betrayed by his confederates and is determined to destroy all of London (and to accomplish some rather creepy dark magic at the same time) by fire bombing the city’s many guild halls. This plot plays rather freely with history, but it works—and Quinn’s depictions of the fire’s ravages are striking, even if the fire’s cause is improbable.

When I finished The Thief Taker, I was uncertain about this series. Having read Fire Catcher, I’m now most definitely looking forward to the next opportunity to spend some time with Charlie Tuesday.

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