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Summary

Part Wolf Hall, part The Name of the Rose, a riveting new literary thriller set in Restoration London, with a cast of real historic figures, set against the actual historic events and intrigues of the returned king and his court....

The City of London, 1678. New Year’s Day. Twelve years have passed since the Great Fire ripped through the City. Eighteen since the fall of Oliver Cromwell and the restoration of a King. London is gripped by hysteria, and rumors of Catholic plots and sinister foreign assassins abound.

When the body of a young boy drained of his blood is discovered on the snowy bank of the Fleet River, Robert Hooke, the Curator of Experiments at the just-formed Royal Society for Improving Natural Knowledge, and his assistant Harry Hunt, are called in to explain such a ghastly finding - and whether it's part of a plot against the king. They soon learn it is not the first bloodless boy to have been discovered. 

Meanwhile, that same morning Henry Oldenburg, the Secretary of the Royal Society, blows his brains out, and a disgraced Earl is released from the Tower of London, bent on revenge against the King, Charles II.

Wary of the political hornet’s nest they are walking into - and using scientific evidence rather than paranoia in their pursuit of truth - Hooke and Hunt must discover why the boy was murdered, and why his blood was taken. 

The Bloodless Boy is an absorbing literary thriller that introduces two new indelible heroes to historical crime fiction. It is also a powerfully atmospheric recreation of the darkest corners of Restoration London, where the Court and the underworld seem to merge, even as the light of scientific inquiry is starting to emerge....

©2013, 2021 Robert J. Lloyd (P)2021 Melville House Publishing

Critic reviews

"Wonderfully imagined and wonderfully written.... Superb!" (Lee Child)

What listeners say about The Bloodless Boy

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Didn't live up to the reviews

I'm very disappointed in this book - it's had great reviews and is exactly the sort of book I usually enjoy - historical crime drama, with a science-y background and lots of period detail.

but for me, I found it buried the action even while it was happening so that I kept having to relisten to parts to notice what was happening. I listen to two or three books a day and this is the only one I've had to rewind on for more than the odd word. On many occasions I nearly gave up. Not least after the action droned on and I missed the finding of not one but two bodies.

I've spent time trying to work out why this didn't work for me - there's so much that ticks the boxes, but I think it's a combination of the writing style being stodgy and the narrator being competent but not a good match with the work. So he's working himself up into action sequences, that are paced differently to his vocal talent.

it's an ok book. but having recently read Anatomy of a Ghost which is less well written but much more gripping, I feel rather sad that this didn't work for me. I'd give it a whirl if you're devoted to the genre, otherwise, there are better books out there for sure.

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Incredible!

I'm a convert to audio books and this, since I started, has been the most enjoyable so far.
The attention to detail and writing style took me to the late 17th century.
Gripping read. Going to re-read immediately,
Top debut book from a highly capable author.
Great narration too.
Thank you

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An intriguing 17th century Murder mystery!

Meticulously researched, ingeniously plotted and full of historical verisimilitude, The Bloodless Boy is thoroughly enjoyable. And the audiobook narrator was the perfect choice!

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The Royal Society dabbles in murder

The early founders of the 17th Century scientific organisation sit on both sides of this literally bloodless murder investigation.
All good historical fiction must deliver a gripping story alongside a slice of life and events from the era it features. This novel also has some of the real characters that forged their way into our history books. Here, Robert Hooke, the real-life Curator of Experiments of the Royal Society, is charged with discovering why the bloodless corpse of a three-year-old boy has been discarded in the mud of London's Fleet River.
The protagonist of the first in a series of books is Harry Hunt, Hooke's former assistant and an Observator of the Society. King Charles the Second features as an eager sponsor of Britain's age of enlightenment and various aristocrats and other scientists fall into place in either side of the conspiracy.
Cyphers, possible Catholic plots and veterans from the recent Civil War are used by debut author Robert J. Lloyd to whip up the mix of intrigue. Anyone who knows the history of that time will appreciate that the world of Christopher Wren, Hooke, Robert Boyle and a young genius called Isaac Newton are the real story of that era. The setting and characters of this book act as a useful modern day reminder of how brilliant that generation of scientific all-rounders were.
I applaud that Hunt is not an all-action hero but neither is he as well-rounded and interesting as James Marwood and Cat Lovett in Andrew Taylor's thrillers set in the same era. I'd also recommend any reader intrigued by that period to dip into the astonishing world of Samuel Pepys Diaries.