The Plague Road

L.C. Tyler. Felony & Mayhem, $26 (312p) ISBN 978-1-63194-262-4

Tyler’s stellar third novel featuring astute London attorney John Grey (after 2016’s A Masterpiece of Corruption) makes the most of its grim setting—a city in the grip of the Great Plague in 1665. Jem, a cart attendant responsible for transporting the pestilence victims’ corpses, notices something odd as his haul is being dumped into a burial pit—one of the bodies has a knife sticking out of its back. Jem reports this find, and the puzzle comes to Grey’s attention via Lord Arlington, who runs Charles II’s spy network. Arlington discloses that the victim was Charles Fincham, an actor undertaking a sensitive mission involving the French ambassador. Fincham was carrying a letter from the Duke of York to the ambassador, and it’s gone missing, a dangerous development given that the king, the duke’s brother, was unaware of the duke’s correspondence with a representative of a rival country. Grey accepts the assignment of finding the missive, which becomes trickier after he learns the job may be motivated by a desire to harm, not help, the duke. Authentic period detail enhances the well-crafted plot. Fans of C.J. Sansom will be eager for more Grey. Agent: David H. Headley, DHH Literary (U.K.). (Apr.)