Review: The Crown Agent by Stephen O’Rourke

Fast paced. Colourful. Fascinating. All words used to describe this debut novel by Stephen O’Rourke. Honestly? I wholeheartedly agree.

Based in Scotland, amongst the Burke and Hare scandal, Dr Mungo Lyon’s reputation is tarnished – never to practise as a surgeon again. When a ship is found adrift with all sailors on board dead, along with a murder in the nearby lighthouse, an amateur is brought in to find out why: enter Dr Lyon.

What I loved was knowing the geography so well in this book. It speaks of Edinburgh, Glasgow and Greenock, and even mentions Bute and Cowal. Exciting to read about places you know so well, and even though its set in 1800’s, you can almost picture it.

O’Rourke never wasted a word when he decided to write this novel, as the drama flows right from the get-go, and doesn’t let up once – not even in the last sentence.

It has so much in it: murder, scandal, moving with the times, life or death chases, smuggling, gold, whisky, shipwrecks, the lot. It doesn’t stop to take a breath.

By the end of the book, I was so shocked that I was struggling to remember everything as it tied neatly up into a little bow.

However the execution of this novel really shows of his talent as an author.

Easy to read, hard to put down: it’s what I look for in a book, and this certainly was it.

4/5 star rating.

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