I loved this historic novel. The main protagonist ist John Brigge. He is the local coroner and his wife is expecting their first child. All of a sudden he is called into town to investigate the murder of a new born child. Katherine Shaw is the suspected murderer, but very soon he has the feeling that something is wrong. He wants to investigate more, but not everybody agrees with him.
Then everything happens so fast. Before John Brigge really notices, he is in the middle of intrigues. The times are troubled, people are hungry and men in high positions are determined not to lose their power. Also religion plays a very big part in this novel. The protagonist and his wife are papists, which is not very liked among the protestants.
What I liked about this novel is that the people, wo are described are very real. They have their faults and aren’t perfect. John Brigge isn’t either. On the one hand side he is a very strong character, although I sometimes found him very weak. Like every human being he lets himself lead by prejudice and is very influenced by the time he lives in. Still he never stops to think himself and is very aware of what he says and what the consequences of his actions will be.
Another topic that is often referred to in the novel is the choice between the law and the heart. John Brigge is a man, who wants order, but also understands the people. In his opinion extreme punishment won’t change men. One also has to show mercy. A lot of others think otherwise. They think that severe punishment will convince others not to break the law. In this a community of fear is developed. I thought it very interesting to read about and I liked the way the author presented these to opinions into the novel. He shows both sides and as a reader you can make your own opinion of what you would prefer and on which side you stand.
What I also liked about the book is the variation of the private life of John Brigge, his work and the intrigues he finds himself in because he is also a governor. It is a thrilling history, because you want to know what happened to the dead child. But as a reader you also are anxious to know how the wife of Brigge is doing and if she will become a healthy living child. The author did a great job in switching between these topics. You feel the suspense throughout the whole story.