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The FT loves The Cunning House

A mesmeric thriller and fascinating insight into a clandestine world that few of us know about

The lists of historical crime fiction grow ever longer and something special is required to raise the book above the throng. The Cunning House is precisely that: a mesmeric thriller and fascinating insight into a world that few of us know about.

In London in 1810, male brothels offer for the clientele rent boys known as 'Mollies', but the City has a hatred of these young men, allied to a suspicion about their political sympathies, and there is a raid on one of the houses in Vere Street. At St James's Palace Duke of Cumberland's valet is killed, and Turley's protagonist, the canny lawyer Wyre, finds a link between these violent events and the war against France. This is a dark side of London Dickens could never have dared show us, evoked with vividness and pungency.

Barry Forshaw, first published in the Financial Times, March 28, 2015.

Richard Marggraf Turley

Richard Marggraf Turley