A completely absorbing mystery that draws you into the heart of the society of Queen Anne's London.
Rich descriptions and accurate historical details surround the reader as the wonderfully colourful characters unravel a very intriguing story. Totally Brilliant. Happy to note that more books in the series are promised.
by Anne Vernon
This is a wonderful book. "Chocolate House Treason" is rich in descriptions of the time. David Fairer has a gift for them. Every sense of the reader is in play when he's setting the scene. I felt quite transported to the chilly weeks of the events in the novel-- smelling the aromas of the coffee house; feeling and absorbing the terror in a reeking 18th century London prison,; imagining the magnificent dress of the wealthy and privileged; experiencing the bustle of Covent Garden, where The Chocolate House becomes a character all its own, full of political intrigue and sanctuary. This is a terrific first novel. I look forward to many more!
by Jody Price
Deftly plotted, historically accurate, richly descriptive, and wittily written--this is a charming and compelling mystery. I loved it, and I'm persnickety about both historical novels and mysteries. The settings are evocative, the characters fully dimensional. A fabulous debut!
by Cynthia Wall
David Fairer has created a group of original and attractive characters, and given them a genuinely exciting mystery to solve, in the beautifully evoked, larger-than-life surroundings of Queen Anne's London. A hugely entertaining read!
by Linda Bree
A very impressive debut. This is an extremely entertaining and civilised read, richly characterised. stylishly written and cleverly plotted. A well-paced and suspenseful murder mystery is set with originality and wit in a confidently evoked early eighteenth-century London and excitingly investigated by a most unusual and engaging trio of amateur detectives.
by Alistair Stead
As a lover of literary detective fiction and a long-bereft fan of Bruce Alexander’s Sir John Fielding mysteries, I am delighted to have found David Fairer’s Chocolate House Treason. This novel offers an immersive 18th-century experience thanks to Fairer’s clubbable characters, pitch-perfect dialogue, and vivid period detail. Murder and political intrigue. Betrayal and loyalty. Suspense and surprise: Chocolate House Treason has it all!
by Kate Ravin
It took me a bit to find the rhythm of the book, but once I did, I couldn't put it down.
This is a rich and well plotted novel with an intense feel of early 1800's London and the machinations of Queen Anne's reign. The three main characters who are trying to save the life of the imprisoned publisher are well drawn, they are extremely likeable and hopefully will return as part of a series.
You can feel, smell and hear the city and the visit to Newgate with its fetid smells and wretched conditions were particularly memorable. The delicious descriptions of the Chocolate House on the other hand made me brew some coffee and wish I had some chocolate sweetmeats!
Here's hoping I will meet Tom, Will and Widow Trotter again.
David Fairer’s debut novel is nothing short of perfection. He deftly manoeuvres between the two worlds of political state and private intimacy, weaving historic fact and real events with a richly complex, joyful and, at times, nail biting plot, connecting our past with our future in a way the reader might find as delightful as it is unsettling. Bravo!
by Adam Bray
As a literature professor, I've been commuting to 18th-century England for the past 50 years. Fairer knows this period both in detail and in it larger significance. This deeply informed, engaging, and wonderfully literary novel captures its social and personal dramas with Swiftian insight and the amusing urbanity of Addison. It is a compelling story narrated expertly. Clearly a labor of love, Chocolate House Treason opens up a new world of intrigue, feeling, and ideas.
by John Sitter
Rare historical fiction for the period of Queen Ann's reign. The action is early 1700's as storm clouds gather between political factions leading up to the Queen's Birthday celebration when London comes alive with parties and fireworks and a final conflict that leads to a bartered solution after a series of crimes.
We are introduced to a lively trio of characters who take center stage and we can hope will continue to live on in further books by this author. A young lawyer Will and his poet friend Tom both have important family connections that figure in this drama where it takes a coalition of three dedicated to bring justice to a falsely accused publisher. Their landlady Mary Trotter, a widow running a coffee shop where she hopes intellectual pursuits will be the norm steers the ship, organizing their efforts.
It is a long book, but how can it be too long when it is filled with historical detail of London?
This is a well thought out novel set in the times of Queen Anne’s reign.
The main characters were extremely likeable.
Hoping that there is a follow up to this book.
1708 and Widow Trotter has plans for her Good Fellowship Coffee House. But a politcal scandal with connections to the crown and Queen Anne is brewing. Mary Trotter with her friends Thomas Bristowe (an aspiring satirist), Will Lundy of the Middle Temple and Constable Elias Cobb are drawn into the intrigue. But when a body is discovered and the wrong man accused, the group of friends are determined to find the guilty party and save their friend from the gallows.
It took awhile for me to get drawn into this long book, its story and the characters, and the politics of the Torys and Whigs. An era which I don't know a lot about but just enough.
Overall an enjoyable if somewhat involved read and I look forward to hopefully reading more of the adventures of this group of likeable characters.
This is an excellent book; set in the London of Queen Anne, the country is in political turmoil (with the machinations of Whig and Tory we can still recognise today!).
Mrs Trotter runs a coffee house, and with her tenant, a budding poet Tom Bristowe, and his lawyer friend Will she becomes embroiled when one of the coffee house's patrons, a printer called Morphew, is accused of murder. The trio are determined to prove his innocence, and their efforts threaten to bring down the government as secret letters and satirical pamphlets abound.
There are elements of this book that show incredibly skilled writing - the author depicts life in the early 18th century incredibly well, and the sketches of the coffee house culture, the 'beau monde' on display and the horrors of the prison are handled extremely well. The characters are well drawn and very believable.
However, the book is far too long. It could easily have been reduced by a third and been a better read for that. The first half seemed very ponderous and I had to force myself to carry on. Once I was drawn into the story, it was very enjoyable.
Overall, well worth pursuing and a very entertaining portrait of Anne's London.
This was an interesting and erudite novel. It vividly brings to life the political intrigues that swirled through the coffee houses of Queen Ann’s London. The author relishes the detail which brings grimy sordid alleyways to life as much as the homes and palaces of the aristocracy.
I guess I’d characterize it as a literary novel, which does for the Restoration and Queen Anne’s England something between what Hilary Mantel does in Wolf Hall and what CJ Samson’s Shardlake does in Tudor England.
I enjoyed the book but would say it wasn’t an early page-turner, hence my referring to Mantel. It does take a little while to become engrossing, but it is well worth sticking with it, (ditto Wolf Hall). You can absolutely tell the author knows this period inside out and lives every moment with his characters.
by S E
Literature is not mere words. Poem, for example, could be deathly political weapon; it could bring the state in a turmoil. Like what I read in this book, poems from an anonymous writer found illegally spreading in the coffee houses brought us to a bizarre murder case which leads a publisher as a suspect. Mr. Emmet who worked in a publishing company, killed in his own office, clutching this poem in his hand. His boss, Mr. Morphew is the only suspect for this since he was found in the same office in a complete disarray and blood all over his clothes. Most people believed this is the case, but our heroes, Tom Bristowe, Will Lundy, and Widow Trotter didn’t. They determined to find the answer for this murder case and save the publisher life. The three went on investigations in the middle of Queen Anne’s England, 1708.
I could say this is kind of long story for a mystery. The tempo is slow and it’s full of historical facts. I do admire this side, the history side which the writer choose to write. He choose to write about Queen Anne’s Robert Harley situation in 1700ish and it is a whole new information for me. I’m not really familiar of England’s history and I feel a little hard to adapt at the beginning. You know, I kept forgetting who’s who, and I did searching and do my own research of the Whig and Tory for the book’s sake. But really, the book has a remarkable details. I always loved if the book is deeply researched like this.
The writing is nice, I like the words the author used. The mystery itself is so confusing and need some deliberation. Politic is everywhere and the book made me think twice to be in that politic world (no, actually I’m never into politics :p). The issue about political writings also made me think how powerful words are. I like the ending, I like the main characters, they are likeable even the little characters like Jem, but my favorite is Will Lundy, hehe. I even found myself hoping that this book is going to be a mystery series from the author.
I loved this book! I find that it did take a while to find a rhythm (close to 100 pages for me), but once it did, I couldn't put it down. As someone fascinated by Queen Anne, I loved that Robert Harley was a featured character, as it truly grounded this novel in history for me. It is obvious that Fairer has put an extensive amount of effort into researching this book and it paid off. Restoration London and the few decades that followed after are largely forgotten in both history (though we are seeing a resurgence of interest) and in literature. Fairer has built a rich and complex London for us to dive into. The mystery is a bit twisty, but still interesting to follow along!
This is a book jam-packed with period detail - you can almost taste the coffee, smell Newgate prison and feel the fear of a time and place where the merest hint of sedition could land you in serious trouble. I felt that a little too much time was spent in scene-setting and character building before the story really got going, but once it did, it then moved along at a cracking pace. Thanks to having seen 'The Favourite' I had some idea of the politics and intrigues of Queen Anne's era but perhaps a brief introduction summarising the situation would help people get to grips with this before getting caught up in the detail of the narrative. The author, David Fairer, is a professor of C18th literature and his expertise makes this a fascinating and really enjoyable read. The characters are all believable and as I warned to several of them, I hope this book might be the start of a series in which they feature. To summarise - if you enjoy stories of political and courtly intrigue, excellent characterisation and a good murder mystery then you will love this book.
by Debra Davidson-Smith
Delicious! A delightful start to a historical mystery series set in 1709 London, in the Good Fellowship coffee house. Recently-widowed Mary Trotter now has great ambition to turn the popular men's meeting place into a chocolate house. The new beverage, more sophisticated decor, and a new name on a new sign will, she is sure, propel her to even more success.
But she hasn't counted on being swept into a political firestorm as competing factions at Queen Anne's palace wage a bitter, no-holds-barred war over control of the government. One major force in influencing public opinion was the published poem or political tract (think of it as that era's Twitter) which were often printed sureptitiously to avoid charges of sedition. Mary's young lodger, aspiring poet Tom Bristowe, has shown promise enough to have caught the notice of a respected publisher. But publisher Morphew has been marked by a ruthless politician to create a scandal that will bring down his rivals at court.
When Morphew's trusted assistant is found murdered in the print shop and Morphew arrested, Widow Trotter and her helpers - including poet Bristowe, his impetuous lawyer friend Will, and a police constable with good connections - must rescue the publisher before he hangs. They are unwittingly plunged into a whirlpool of intrigue, betrayal, political machinations and intimidation that not only tests their resolve but, as the murder count rises, the safety of the intrepid investigators.
Deeply researched without being obvious, this charming and lively tale will not only sweep you into the mystery, but the era and its habits, mores, opinions and politics. The investigating friends are clearly drawn, the motives and means logical and appropriate to the times. Beautifully written, with a nice turn of phrase and wit, this is a stellar series kick-off. I look forward to the next Chocolate House Mystery.
I hope this is going to be a series because it was a highly enjoyable and entertaining read.
The book is well written and the historical background is well researched and vividly described.
The cast of characters is interesting and well written and realistic.
The plot is not very fast paced but once you are hooked you won't stop reading till the end.
An excellent read, highly recommended!
Historical fiction set in the times of Queen Anne. Lady Malbourough and Abigail, Lord Sunderland and Hardy… Some people say every great man has a woman behind him… It is truth in reverse as well. A great woman or a monarch (or both) always has many men behind and by her side, next to her and around her... Are they good? Are they enemy? Who is to decide? Where is the truth?
Chocolate House Treason is misleading the reader. It is not light and fluffy as a hot chocolate drink in the Good Fellowship House of Coffee, it is dark and treacherous, unknown and unexpected. The account given to the reader in this book is very detailed, dry in places. But it does not take away from the weight of it - it is hard to swallow some time. Also, it is so very modern. People are people. Our human nature is such, we betray as easily as we love. Add ink and paper to the mix... and cry 'in the name of the Queen'.
A very worthy read to the lovers of British and European history. Queen Ann might not have left a heir, but she left her mark: her reign, her rule and her court.
This is the kind of book you savour page after page. The details, the quality of the dialogues, the complexity of the plot, all is pure pleasure. The period is so interesting, it is like the birth of Modern political life in England. London is depicted in vivied colours and details, it is like a time travel with a murder mystery, of very good standards. The characters are detailed in such a way that you want to be their friends. People from the past with problems we could help to solve. The writing is fluent, it is impossible to get tired. Good that the book is substantial, I cannot wait for another story. I will srongly recommend this book and offer it as a gift.
This book is clearly written by an academic and none the worse for it, it is no light, fluffy story to read over a couple of evenings. It's something to read and savour - once you get into it which, as other reviewers have noted, can take some time. There is a lot of scene setting at one level but I thought that a little more broad context would help. This, it turns out, is given at the end - too late. I would call it essentially a political intrigue - Whigs versus Tories, just after the Act of Union between Scotland and England, Queen Anne being courted and vilified at the same time and pamphlets of dubious origin but literary value appearing everywhere. No-one acknowledging who the authors are or the veracity of said verses. Sound familiar? Twitter, you were there in the 18th century after all, Into this is woven a murder story and the detecting of it by a widow running a coffee house, her young aspiring poet lodger and his lawyer friend plus a Constable. The murder links to the politics of course and comes to an ending which is somewhat of a compromise. The descriptions of place and context are excellent - the stench of Newgate and plight of the inmates, stench and poverty of the poorer side of London, the narrow alleys full of mystery, fear and the like; all set against the slightly more refined but dark coffee houses where med debate and intrigue. Much has parallels with modern-day politics - the back biting, snipes, lies - but the Court remains of its period. Thanks to NetGalley and Matador publishers for an advance copy in exchange for my honest review.
This is the perfect mystery for readers who enjoy history well delivered, that history in fine detail, as well. This is not a light mystery, full of fluff. It has teeth. If you like authors such as Anne Perry and Paul Doherty who give the reader a time travel adventure into London of old, please give this book a try. Yes, it is long and often it is more talk than action but the immersion into the days of the reign of Queen Anne is worth every word. London is alive, complete with the sights, sounds and, yes, the smells of the 1700's.
The main characters are a likable trio of Mary Trotter, owner of a coffee shop. She is landlady to Will, a lawyer and his friend, Tom, a poet. The politics of the period are woven through their efforts to defend a wrongfully accused publisher. It's history with a mystery included rather than the other way around. I really enjoyed my visit to this period of London history.
An intriguing mystery set in the early 1700s 'Chocolate House Treason' by David Fairer is full of suspense. The fascinating characters are likable and well developed. Three amateur sleuths: Widow Trotter (coffee house proprietor), Tom Bristowe (poet) and Will Lundy (Lawyer), set out to free their friend Mr Morphew of murder charges by solving the murder. As the plot builds, the reader finds that many of the government officials are corrupt. The trio of investigators don't know who to trust. A new conspiracy is found everywhere they turn often misdirecting the investigation.
I found this book intriguing because it has many parallels to our time. Government corruption of our era is out of control much like it was in the early 1700s. Incorrigible government officials were bending laws to meet their needs back then as they are today.
Give this book a chance. It took about four chapters before it gripped my full attention. After that, I could not put it down. I recommend this book because it is both thought-provoking and has every quality of a good mystery. Chocolate House Treason is a great read.
1708 England was an interesting time. Queen Anne's reign was anything but routine and scandal was rife. There were spies everywhere. The celebrations for the Queen's birthday are all being planned and with a big fireworks display as well.
In Covent Garden we have a coffee house newly opened and Mary Trotter at the helm hoping that this house will lead the way for intellectuals to gather to have discourse and conversations on a higher level. She did not expect to face the problems she did.
Full of historical detail of a period not very often found, it was an interesting account of the times. The characterization was very good with three people trying to help out a publisher falsely accused. Not easy in these times.
Bravo Mr Fairer! I thoroughly enjoyed this historical romp through Queen Anne's London. I must admit to being a little daunted by the size of the book but I enjoyed every page of this interesting debut novel. The description of early eighteenth century life was beautifully drawn, just enough detail to set the scene and make the reader engage with the characters and the backdrop. The characters themselves were both believable and likeable - nobody was a complete villain - and I was drawn into the political machinations of the last Stuart court where nobody could be trusted and everyone had their own agendas. It felt so relevant and yet so distant at the same time. I confess to googling Robert Harley as this is a period I'm hazy on, between Restoration and Enlightenment. The language was beautiful and accessible too, there was never a moment of jarring narrative or modern idioms and it was very readable. I think this would make a fantastic Netflix mini series akin to Harlots? Please write another! I would happily revisit The Bay Tree Chocolate House.
by Sandy Jones
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
As Professor of Eighteenth-Century Literature at Leeds University I have spent most of my life researching and writing about the early eighteenth century and bringing it alive for students, and so this turn to historical fiction is a natural one for me. I find myself on the other side of the fence, writing from within the world that I have inhabited imaginatively for fifty years. I am inspired by the thought of bringing this fascinating period to life for modern readers.