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  • The Ashes of London

  • By: Andrew Taylor
  • Narrated by: Leighton Pugh
  • Length: 12 hrs and 59 mins
  • 4.3 out of 5 stars (1,101 ratings)

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The Ashes of London cover art

The Ashes of London

By: Andrew Taylor
Narrated by: Leighton Pugh
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Summary

The first book in the No. 1 Times bestselling series

‘This is terrific stuff’ Daily Telegraph

‘A breathtakingly ambitious picture of an era’ Financial Times

‘A masterclass in how to weave a well-researched history into a complex plot’ The Times

Over 1 Million Andrew Taylor Novels Sold!

A CITY IN FLAMES
London, 1666. As the Great Fire consumes everything in its path, the body of a man is found in the ruins of St Paul’s Cathedral – stabbed in the neck, thumbs tied behind his back.

A WOMAN ON THE RUN
The son of a traitor, James Marwood is forced to hunt the killer through the city’s devastated streets. There he encounters a determined young woman, who will stop at nothing to secure her freedom.

A KILLER SEEKING REVENGE
When a second murder victim is discovered in the Fleet Ditch, Marwood is drawn into the political and religious intrigue of Westminster – and across the path of a killer with nothing to lose…

©2016 Andrew Taylor (P)2016 HarperCollins Publishers Limited

Critic reviews

"The Ashes of London is the book we all dream of writing and of reading: a crime thriller that pushes the pages over with effortless ease, while at the same time weaving an intricate, delicate, delight of a tapestry that draws us into a time and place that are so rich, so perfectly balanced that we walk alongside the characters, inhabit their shoes, feel their fear and taste their hope, all written in Andrew Taylor's beautiful hand-crafted prose. This is a book to revel in, a joy and a delight. Definitely one of the must-reads of the year." (Manda Scott, best-selling author of the Boudica Dreaming series)

What listeners say about The Ashes of London

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  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars

Mystery and murder in 'the dunnest smoke of hell'

I picked this title not because of Andrew Taylor's awards for historical crime writing, but because it's read by Leighton Pugh. Having spent the first three months of last year mesmerised by Pugh's fantastic 116-hour unabridged narration of Samuel Pepys' Diary on Naxos (downloadable on Audible), I thought The Ashes of London set in Pepys' time read by Leighton Pugh had got to be a winner. And it is!

The backdrop is the Fire of London which has reduced the city around St Paul's to ashes amongst which James Marwood finds a dead body: not surprising, except that this one has had his thumbs tied together before being murdered. It is his job to uncover the crime. The ashy mud of the ruins still smouldering in places made me think of Lady Macbeth's prayer for the 'dunnest smoke of hell' to hide her regicide: in the same way the ash in this taut crime mystery is a cloak for murder and intrigue, a cover for eaves droppers and informants in these dangerous times of the Restoration. These are violent times and there are more murders and more deceit and cover-up.

No-one can be trusted - in politics, at court, in the ashy ruins picked over by desperate poor people- and least of all by blood relatives. Marwood is in danger because his father is a hunted regicide and young Cat Lovett, the parallel main character whose life becomes entwined dangerously with Marwood's, has fled following a scene of violence from the man she loathes whom her guardian uncle is forcing her to marry.

There are some magnificent filmic scenes throughout: Marwood's haunting memories of King Charles l's bleeding head held aloft at his execution, which he witnessed as a boy; the terrifying pursuit through stone passages to the roof-tops of St Paul's overlooking the devastation below which ends in more violence. A man is murdered whilst riding with his hounds, a man mistrusted by Cat. Why do the dogs wag their tails and not savage the murderer lurking in the bushes? The whole novel is intensely alive, teeming with visual and sensory detail, the historical background woven in seamlessly to heighten the tense atmosphere of threat, plot and intrigue.

And with his range of voices, mood and pace, Leighton Pugh drives forward the whole story in all its complexities. Definitely a winner!


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65 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars

Excellent book and a very good listen

I really enjoyed this book. It helped to have some knowledge of history and of London and to have watched a documentary about the Great Fire. The story was so dependent on its background that it seemed almost essential to have at least some sketchy knowledge in order to enjoy it to the full. The first/third person perspective worked well in this case, and I thought the choice of narrator was good as his delivery of the Marwood sections in particular was appropriately low-key.

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1 person found this helpful

  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars
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    4 out of 5 stars
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    4 out of 5 stars

Engaging story against an illustrated background

Historical, well not exactly a whodunnit, and not exactly a thriller, but walking with foot in both genres. Scenes are well drawn, characters are engaging and believable. Narration is top tier. Managed to engage me in an era i had little considered, and quick to find the next in the series.

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1 person found this helpful

  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    4 out of 5 stars
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    4 out of 5 stars

Worth a Read

Ended up enjoying this book.Thought at the start it was going to be a bit clichéd but author took it in unexpected directions.Highly recommended.

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  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars

Engrossing historical romp

Wonderful story. Perfect narration. Enjoyable from start to finish. Looking forward to checking out more from this author and this narrator.

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  • Overall
    3 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    2 out of 5 stars

Very slow story

I love historical fiction and thrillers. Absolutely loved the perdu of and enjoyed the descriptions. But in the end did not feel like listening to the end. It was getting too long and slow to develop to retain - my somewhat difficult to retain- attention. This said others may not have the same problem.

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2 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    4 out of 5 stars

really enjoyed this historical murder mystery

I really enjoyed picking up all the pieces as they are covered the murders but also learning about this time in history was educational in a fun way. listened to it most while running really made me forget how far I was running.

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1 person found this helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    4 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars
  • Mr
  • 22-11-17

Well worth a buy

A very well read story which takes you all over 1666 London.
Great storyline which leads you to an interesting climax.
Well worth a go

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  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars

A new take on the Restoration.

I wasn't sure I'd I'd enjoy this series to begin with but I'm very glad I continued listening. All the intrigue and interest of the period as London battled some of it's most difficult years are mixed with the emotions & fears that lay beneath the surface. A good story & a fitting end

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  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars
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    4 out of 5 stars

Slow but steady story

It took me a while to settle into the slow pace of this story, but I’m glad I persisted. An interesting listen; a mix of fact and fiction that was most enjoyable. Looking forward to the next one.

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