The focus of my blog is to review book series and not individual novels. But writers are going to continue writing novels within a series even after I have done my review, so I plan on reviewing the individual novels as they come into circulation. Mary Lawrence has just recently added book #5, The Lost Boys of London to the Bianca Goddard series.
Mary Lawrence’s Bianca Goddard series is the equivalent of a 16th century version of CSI: London. The series takes place in London during the reign of King Henry VIII and life for the average Londoner is not easy. In the beginning of The Lost Boys of London a young boy is found dead, hanging from the dripstone of a church. Constable Patch, a regular in the series, happens to pass by the crowd that discovers the body. Even though this church is not in his jurisdiction, Patch takes a keen interest in this discovery. Since this was an unusual case, he consults with Bianca Goddard as her expertise has helped him on previous cases. Bianca is the daughter of an alchemist and has taken up the practice of herbal medicine, and because of her occupation, she very much thinks like a scientist. As Patch and Bianca begins to investigate this case it isn’t too long before another victim is found.
This case eventually becomes personal for Bianca when a young boy named Fisk disappears. Fisk has helped Bianca on previous cases and she has a natural fondness for him in part because he comes from a poor family and often has to scavenge for food to feed his family. Bianca is consumed with fear that Fisk will be the next victim, so time is short to solve this case.
The Lost Boys of London reads very much like a forensic mystery with the exception that it takes place in the mid-1500s when religion takes precedence over science. Bianca doesn’t have the advantages of fingerprint analysis or DNA testing, but she does have a keen awareness to details. In many ways she is more like a Tudor era version of Sherlock Holmes.
Mary Lawrence’s style of writing gives the reader a feeling that they are right there in 16th century London by using the vernacular of that time period. She also makes interesting references to historical occurrences that take place during King Henry VIII’s reign such as the fall-out that resulted from establishment of the Church of England and the consequences that befell the former clergy of the Catholic Church. This makes for an educational as well as an entertaining read.
For the most part this could be read without reading the rest of the series, but Lawrence does make references to previous additions to the series mainly in relation to her husband’s recruitment into the military to fight the Scots and as well as other familial relationships, so reading the previous novels would be useful in that respect. Overall, reading The Lost Boys of London will make social-distancing a lot more fun.
To learn more about the Bianca Goddard series click here.