Source: Review copy from the publisher.
Book Description from Back Cover:
London, 1836. A young aristocrat is murdered after finding incriminating letters from a secret society. When amateur geologist Daniel Young inquires about his friend’s murder, he discovers a plot to overthrow the king of England. Plunged into a crisis of faith and separated from the woman he loves, Daniel must stop the killer before becoming the next victim. He soon realizes that the conspiracy not only threatens to destroy the king, but the foundation of Christianity itself.
The Gentlemen's Conspiracy is a historical suspense novel set in London, England in 1836. There were also short scenes set in Paris, France, and England that start in 1744 and progress up to 1836. These showed the groundwork leading up to the events in the main story.
Historical personages such as Charles Lyell, Adam Sedwick, William Scrope, Henry Cole, Andrew Ure, Jean-Jacques Rousseau, Jean-Baptist Lamarck, and William Pepys were characters in the novel. The author researched their writings and historical accounts about them so that he could accurately portray their views. However, he stated that their internal motivations and the interactions between them portrayed in the novel were made up by him.
The world-building was excellent and brought the story alive in my imagination. The historical detail was worked into the weave of the story without slowing the pacing. The information about the politics of the time and the changing views about the age of the earth was very interesting.
The story was fast-paced with the suspense mainly created by the danger to the lives of Daniel and those involved in the case. There was also some suspense over whether Daniel would be able to marry his sweetheart.
The characters were engaging, varied, and complex. They dealt with realistic problems, like the death of a close friend and the shaking of one's faith (in people and beliefs). I'll point out that the main characters were basically all males. The one female main character was barely involved in the case.
The Christian characters were portrayed in a realistic manner and with different shades of commitment to the Bible. Daniel was raised a Christian, but he lost his faith when the geologists he looked up to taught ideas that made him doubt the reliability of the Bible. As the novel progressed, he's shaken to realize that the people he trusted were withholding information from him (and others) so that he would blindly follow whatever they said.
There was no sex. There was a very minor amount of bad language. Overall, I'd highly recommend this novel as well-written and suspenseful clean reading.
If you've read this book, what do you think about it? I'd be honored if you wrote your own opinion of the book in the comments.
Excerpt from Chapter One
LONDON - TUESDAY, 16 FEBRUARY, 1836
A hand on his arm yanked Daniel out of his thoughts. He spun and saw Alexander emerge from the shadows of the half-closed entrance of the Geological Society's museum.
"What are you doing? I was about to go to the library to meet you. Did you finish your work for the day? We--"
"Let's go," Alexander said.
"You're all covered in sweat. What have you been doing?"
Alexander trotted down the stairs and Daniel followed, wondering what had gotten into his friend this time. He exited the society's apartments on the north wing of Somerset House and crossed the courtyard toward the street, walking fast.
"Alex! Would you wait for me?"
A cool fog had begun to set down on the city along with the sun. Merchants bundled in down coats roamed The Strand.
Read the rest of chapter one.