Friday, 4 March 2016

The Bitter Trade by Piers Alexander

Reviewer: Gillian Hamer, author of The Charter, Closure, Complicit, Crimson Shore & False Lights (

What we thought: I'm not sure what I was expecting from this novel after reading the synopsis, but my expectations were well and truly surpassed by a debut novel which feels as if it has been confidently penned by a master of the craft.

Opening in 1688, we are introduced to Calumny Spinks, our central character, whom, despite his impoverished beginnings seems destined to lead a life of intrigue and adventure. Lanky-limbed and redheaded, Calumny comes alive to the reader, who are soon grinning at his clever wit, his talent at mimicry and his thirst for rule-breaking. He's a wonderful character, and I found great pleasure in taking Calumny's hand and allowing him to take me on a journey of sounds, smells, tastes, that brought alive the city of London during that period.

Each character we encounter leaps off the page, each road we tread feels authentic, and the language, style and pace are all polished to perfection. So, what can I say. If I had boxes to tick it would be tick, tick, tick, tick and tick. Any negatives? Only one ... we have to wait for the follow up. Highly recommended!

You’ll enjoy this if you like: Hilary Mantel, Sarah Waters, Elizabeth Chadwick.

Avoid if you don’t like: Period settings and London locations.

Ideal accompaniments: Porridge and ale.

Genre: Historical Fiction.

Available from Amazon

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