Author: S.G Maclean
Title: Destroying Angel
Plot:Captain Damian Seeker has gone north. Charged with preparing the way for the rule of the major-generals, he is now under the command of Colonel Robert Lilburne at York. But when Lilburne orders him to a small village on the North York moors with details of the stringent new anti-Royalist laws, Seeker finds that what should be a routine visit will reveal a plot to rival anything in scheming London
An invitation to dinner at the house of local businessman Matthew Pullan lifts the lid on the bubbling cauldron of grudges and resentment that is Faithly village. The local constable, drunk on the tiny bit of power he holds, using it to avenge old resentments. The hated lord of the manor, the last of a staunchly Royalist family who has managed to avoid suspicion of treachery – for now. The vicar on trial for his job and his home, accused of ungodly acts. And the Pullans themselves, proudly Puritan but disillusioned with Cromwell’s government, respected and despised in Faithly in equal measure. The man for whom this unlikely gathering was organised – The Trier, the enforcer of Puritan morality for the local villages – hasn’t shown up. And by the end of the night, on of those gathered around Matthew Pullan’s table will be fatally poisoned.
Seeker must find out the motive behind the death – mushroom misidentification, petty revenge, or part of a larger plot against Cromwell’s government in the north? But who in Faithly, if anyone, can he trust? And when the most painful part of his past reappears after eleven years, will the Seeker meet his match?
S.G Maclean’s previous books are the only ones I’ve read set in the Cromwell era. I knew there was a third book due and was delighted to find it was released a couple of months ago and my library had copies. I love Maclean’s world-building and story-telling and reserved this one quickly.
Destroying Angel was as gripping, exciting and enjoyable as the previous books. Damian Seeker is such a great character: a formidable captain, whose network of spies is known and feared. But he’s got a big heart and will do whatever he needs to in order to protect those he loves. If you’re a bad guy, Damian Seeker is a force to be reckoned with. If you’re innocent and vulnerable, you know he’ll do everything to ensure your safety.
You get to connect more with his character in this book as Seeker must confront his past. You learn what drives him to be the man he has become and the choices he has made along the way. You also see he never gives up; it doesn’t matter if something has taken him years to find, he will not let go. He’s stubborn in a charming way and you want him to succeed.
‘By the time Seeker’s on the scene his spies have come and gone and your luck’s well and truly out.’ He considered a moment and then qualified his assertion. ‘If it’s your he’s after, at any rate.’
You definitely get more emotion from Seeker in this one. Characters are close to his heart and that exposes a vulnerability in him only rarely glimpsed before. He also disobeys orders to fulfil his mission and it’s fun to see the more rebellious side to him.
I love the way Maclean writes his secondary characters, across all three books. While they tend to be restricted to one book (maybe making appearances in the others), they are fully developed characters with intricate backstories. Our knowledge of these characters adds to Seeker’s ability to draw the truth from every situation.
The plot has multiple threads to it that, for the majority of the book, don’t appear to connect to one another. There’s an escaped Royalist prisoner. The murder of a young girl. And a vicar on trial for not being holy enough. There’s no cliché neat conclusion though; elements intertwine and following clues reveals more than Seeker was expecting. But they remain separate stories, which is refreshing for this sort of mystery; it doesn’t force different components together.
I know little about this era. But you’re introduced to a world both similar and different to today. In some ways, this is a classic who-dun-it situation, following the clues and uncovering the mystery. When it is set adds to the charm: it’s reflected in the words they use, the way they dress and how they deal with situations. I can’t judge on accuracy but it makes a gripping tale.
If you’re into historical fiction, especially in this time period, I highly recommend these books. Seeker is a flawed and loveable hero who you can’t help rooting for and hoping he saves the day in a dashing manner… and Maclean doesn’t disappoint. I’m now on count down to the next book!