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February Book Club Choice

The King's Evil by Edward Marston

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The first book in the acclaimed crime series set during the London Restoration period. Christopher Redmayne, an architect with Cavalier instincts, and Jonathan Bale, a Puritan constable, are hardly kindred spirits with Redmayne dedicating himself to rebuilding the city that Bale believes was destroyed by its own inner corruption. The two men are thrown together when a theft and murder sets them on a complex and perilous investigation that takes them through the brothels and gaming houses of London, across to Paris, and back again to the hedonistic Court.

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Suggested Discussion Points:

Author Q&A

Q. Why did you feel the London Restoration period would make an interesting setting for your crime series?
D. Williams, Wales

A. The rebuilding of London after the Great Fire of 1666 is a fascinating period. There's conflict at every level - political, religious, economic - and England was at war with the Dutch. I wanted to explore some of the dramatic changes that were taking place at the time. It's a volatile period and that's a gift to any writer.

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Q. Why did you feel the London Restoration period would make an interesting setting for your crime series?
D. Williams, Wales

A. The rebuilding of London after the Great Fire of 1666 is a fascinating period. There's conflict at every level - political, religious, economic - and England was at war with the Dutch. I wanted to explore some of the dramatic changes that were taking place at the time. It's a volatile period and that's a gift to any writer.


Q. Were you always interested in crime novels? If so, who were some of your influences?
Janet Moreno, Bristol

A. My initial interest was in real-life crime because that was happening right on our doorstep. I grew up in a high-crime area. Our next-door neighbour was in and out of prison and there were other local villains nearby. My father borrowed crime novels from the library and I began to read them at a young age (Agatha Christie, Arthur Conan Doyle, James Hadley Chase etc) I read anything I could lay my hands on and became fond of writers like Erle Stanley Gardner (Perry Mason) and Raymond Chandler. My favourite was Dashiell Hammett (The Maltese Falcon).


Q. Redmayne and Bale are complete opposites – do you think it is key to have contrasting characters for a crime “duo”?
M. M., Carshalton

A. To solve a crime, it's vital to be able to investigate various levels of society. Redmayne could never do this on his own. Through his dissolute brother, he has access to the middle and upper classes. Jonathan Bale is his pathway to the lower ranks of society because that's where Bale comes from. As human beings, they have nothing in common yet they form an effective team when confronted with a crime. Their differing attitudes means that we can look at society from opposing viewpoints.


Q. How do you decide you want to write a series as opposed to a standalone novel? Would there be different driving forces behind the creation of a series than behind a standalone?
Bob Carey, London

A. In a standalone novel, you only have one shot at it. The beauty of a series is that you can develop your characters and take them in directions that were unimaginable when you first created them. Also, you can pick up other characters along the way and carry them forward into future novels. While I'm writing one Redmayne novel, I always get plenty of ideas for the next in the series. There's a lovely sense of momentum.


Q. Do you have a favourite “scene” in the book, one you most enjoyed writing?
N. Mariner, Norwich

A. Having written over fifty crime novels, I find it difficult to remember individual scenes but I did enjoy describing the lively meetings between Redmayne and his brother, Henry, a Restoration rake who is yet vital to the plot and therefore has to be humoured.


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