The Trip to Jerusalem is the third book in The Bracewell Mysteries by Edward Marston.
Quick Review (read on for full review)
An intriguing, convincing historical mystery with a great cast of characters. Entertaining, enjoyable and highly recommended. 4 / 5
Summary (from back of book)
When the deathly horrors of the Black Plague decimate the audiences of London’s theatres, the acclaimed troupe of players called Lord Westfield’s Men take to the high road to seek out fresh audiences. But wherever they go, they are thwarted by misfortune and baffled by mysteries. Their scripts are stolen, their players abducted. A dead man walks, and a beautiful woman hears the voice of God.
Only one man is clever enough to match swords with the troupe’s burgeoning troubles. Upon Nicholas Bracewell, the company’s bookholder and mainstay, falls the burden that may cost him his life – as they head for an ancient inn called The Trip to Jerusalem, where the last act of a bloody drama is about to begin.
Death moved through the streets of London every day and sent loved ones to an early grave but the citizens of London were still not satisfied. Private grief afflicted new families by the hour but there was still enough ghoulish interest left over to send a large crowd to Tyburn for the execution.
I can’t help but love these books. After reading the first one in the series, The Queen’s Head, a few years ago, I went out bought something like the next half a dozen or more because they are just that good.
There is a different tone to the mystery of this book compared to the two previously, at least at first. As Lord Westfield’s Men travel north from London, their plans to bring their high quality theatre performances to a country audience are continually hampered by strange events that precede them. The road is dangerous, the accommodation not up to standard and the theatrics are not kept to the stage.
A number of different things are going on in this story, and as it progresses, they are woven together to create an intriguing, convincing mystery. There is drama (of course), romance (well, sort-of), political intrigue, religious disquiet and persecution, plague, petty rivalries, and so much more, combined with historical accuracy and vivid settings.
The characters are fantastic. I’ve said in the reviews for the earlier books in the series, that I like Nicholas Bracewell. He is interesting and yet compared to the other characters, especially the more outlandish actors (Lawrence Firethorn and Barnaby Gill, for example), and playwrights (Edmond Hoode), he comes across as understated but intrinsically important to the running of the theatre company.
I can’t recommend this series highly enough. If you enjoy cosy historical mysteries, or are interested in the Elizabethan period, I think you might enjoy these. I’m looking forward the reading book four in the series, The Nine Giants.