To some degree, the Quercus imprimatur is a guarantee of quality for any novel, but this is particularly true of the publisher’s outings in the crime field, and Rebecca Jenkins’ beguiling and Death of a Radical can definitely be counted among the most authoritative additions to their list. The novel is set in 1812, with Ralf Jarrett beginning to be comfortable in his function as agent for the Duke of Penrith in the Durham town of Woolbridge. The Easter fair is in full swing, and the atmosphere is lively — but industrial revolutions are in the air, and jobs are on the line, causing tension between the radicals and worried judges. When Ralf’s young cousin becomes involved, there is to serious trouble in the offing — trouble that ends with the violent deaths of several people. With its strikingly characterised hero (whom readers have encountered in The Duke’s Agent) and a vividly realised sense of the period, this is historical crime writing of some flair.

Barry Forshaw

Death of a Radical

Rebecca Jenkins

Quercus, £7.99

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