The year is 1742, and the people of Preston are looking forward to their ancient once-every-twenty-years festival of merriment and excess, the Preston Guild.
But the prospect darkens as the town plunges into a financial crisis caused by the death of pawnbroker and would-be-banker Philip Pimbo, apparently shot behind the locked door of his office. Is it suicide? Coroner Titus Cragg suspects so, but Dr Luke Fidelis disagrees.
The Scrivener is the third book in the Cragg and Fidelis mysteries and set in 1742 Blake does what he does best in setting out a very good murder mystery. With Titus Cragg as his hero and narrator, Blake's descriptions of Georgian Preston and Liverpool are rich in detail and atmospheric as he paints the picture of how grim and difficult life was. Not a fast paced plot, rather Blake ambles through the action as and when Cragg and Fidelis come across any clues.
Good old fashioned detective work and perseverance is what makes these two characters click nicely together, and with the differing opinions: one of a young ambitious doctor always eager to look upon a problem with an scientific mind, the other, older and more experienced to the psychology of people, makes for an interesting friendship. However, the pair ultimately work together to uncover the truth.
Blake's knowledge of eighteenth century life mixed with his details of locations and believable characters make for a very engaging story. Cragg and Fidelis are an unlikely detecting duo but with Cragg's witty humour and Fidelis's natural inquisitiveness, these two make a fine double act.