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Forrester, James - 'The Roots of Betrayal'
Paperback: 448 pages (Feb. 2012) Publisher: Headline Review ISBN: 0755356063

It is 1564 and Catholic herald William Harley, Clarenceaux King of Arms has been keeping a highly dangerous document that proves that Queen Elizabeth was born illegitimately and therefore has no right to the throne and he has been holding this document in a secret place in his house for over six months. Sir William Cecil, the Queen's Principal Secretary had asked him to keep it safely because if it were revealed to Catholic opponents of Her Majesty it could start a religious war and many thousands could lose their lives as many have done so over it already.

Unfortunately, it is stolen from Clarenceaux and he immediately suspects a notorious group of Catholic sympathisers known as the "Knights of the Round Table" as the guilty perpetrators. The Catholic sympathisers are angry that the document has not been revealed to the public and used to unseat the monarch and replace her with one who will promote their interests. Francis Walsingham receives instructions from Sir William Cecil that he should use his men and best efforts to locate and trace Clarenceaux who goes on the run as he is worried that he will be blamed for the loss of the document. Clarenceaux, before he leaves, sends his wife and children and servants to a safe location away from London. Clarenceaux is then kidnapped by an evil but very charismatic pirate known as Raw Carew and is taken to a ship off the coast and has many adventures whilst in his captivity and there are many scenes of torture which are not for the sensitive.

This gripping and very intelligent story is a real page turner once you get past about the first ten pages. After that, I found it difficult to put it down until the final page.

James Forrester is a pen name of the historian Dr Ian Mortimer who has a special interest in this period and has written four highly acclaimed non-fiction medieval biographies and The Sunday Times best-seller The Time Traveller's Guide to Medieval England. In some notes at the back, the author insists that THE ROOTS OF BETRAYAL is a work of pure fiction. He says there are many misunderstandings in the descriptions of books of this type. He believes that if a historical text is described as "accurate" in relation to the past then it is a work of history. He does include the names of people that actually lived in the historical past but in his book they may do other exploits than they did in what is known of their real lives.

I found this a highly imaginative and very entertaining plot. This book builds on the story from his previous book SACRED TREASON, but the story if anything improves with dramatic twists and turns into a very vivid and knowledgeable drama and the widely diverse scenes kept me transfixed until the last page. Well recommended.

Terry Halligan, England
November 2012

Details of the author's other books with links to reviews can be found on the Books page.
More European crime fiction reviews can be found on the Reviews page.

last updated 17/11/2012 11:30