Cover image for The scent of death
The scent of death
Taylor, Andrew, 1951 October 14- , author.
Publication Information:
London : HarperCollins, 2013.
Physical Description:
474 pages : maps ; 25 cm
Manhattan, 1778. A city of profiteers, loyalists and double agents. New York is home to a tide of refugees seeking justice from the British crown. Edward Savill is sent from London to investigate the claims of dispossessed loyalists. No sooner does he land than he becomes embroiled in a murder.


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FICTION Adult Fiction Central Library
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*WINNER of the Ellis Peters Historical Dagger Award 2013*'Andrew Taylor wrote superb historical fiction long before Hilary Mantel was popular' Daily TelegraphFrom the No.1 bestselling author of THE AMERICAN BOY comes a new historical thriller set during the American War of Independence. August, 1778. British-controlled Manhattan is a melting pot of soldiers, traitors and refugees, surrounded by rebel forces as the American War of Independence rages on. Into this simmering tension sails Edward Savill, a London clerk tasked with assessing the claims of loyalists who have lost out during the war. Savill lodges with the ageing Judge Wintour, his ailing wife, and their enigmatic daughter-in-law Arabella. However, as Savill soon learns, what the Wintours have lost in wealth, they have gained in secrets. The murder of a gentleman in the slums pulls Savill into the city's underbelly. But when life is so cheap, why does one death matter? Because making a nation is a lucrative business, and some people cannot afford to miss out, whatever the price...

Author Notes

Andrew Taylor is the author of a number of novels, including the Dougal and Lydmouth crime series, the psychological thrillers Bleeding Heart Square and The Anatomy of Ghosts, the ground-breaking Roth Trilogy, which was adapted into the acclaimed drama Fallen Angel, and The American Boy, his No. 1 bestselling historical novel which was a 2005Richard & Judy Book Club choice. He has won many awards, including the CWA John Creasey New Blood Dagger, an Edgar Scroll from the Mystery Writers of America, the CWA Ellis Peters Historical Award (the only author to win it twice) and the CWA's prestigious Diamond Dagger, awarded for sustained excellence in crime writing. He also writes for the Spectator. He lives with his wife Caroline in the Forest of Dean.

Reviews 3

Booklist Review

In the thick of the Revolutionary War, Edward Savill is dispatched to New York by the British Crown's American Department to assist Loyalist refugees displaced by the rebels. The American city is nothing like Savill has ever seen; before his ship docks, he sees his first body, and his second follows quickly, and that one prompts a special interest. The victim is clearly a Loyalist, and Savill isn't convinced the police have found the right killer when they arrest and convict Virgil, a runaway slave. When witnesses to the case begin disappearing and strange connections keep popping up between Savill's genteel hosts and a mysterious box of curiosities, Savill becomes ensnared in the murder. Savill's position as a British official offers an intriguing perspective, and the solid mystery is layered with transportive period detail. Skilled writing and strong characterization make this one a good fit for fans of Stef Penney, Margaret Lawrence, and Robert McCammon.--Tran, Christine Copyright 2014 Booklist

Publisher's Weekly Review

Starred Review. Set in 1778, this excellent series opener from Diamond Dagger Award-winner Taylor (The Anatomy of Ghosts) introduces Edward Savill, an employee of the British government's American Department. The day Savill's ship docks in New York harbor, he observes a man's corpse dragging from a dinghy in the water. Later the same day, Savill gets involved in investigating the stabbing death of Roger Pickett, a gentleman newly arrived in the city. Under the terms of his commission, Savill is supposed to report to his masters in London on the "administration of justice in the city in all its aspects,"¬Ņ which puts him at odds with British military officers, who regard a murder inquiry as a low priority in wartime. Taylor plants clues to the murderer's identity early on in a fair-play plot whose fiendish cleverness becomes apparent only at the end. His depiction of the plight of American Loyalists adds another facet to this superior whodunit. Agent: Vivien Green, Sheil Land Associates (U.K.). (Oct.) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.

Library Journal Review

Junior clerk Edward Savill arrives in New York City in 1778 as an emissary from the British government. On Savill's first day, he attends the scene of a murder with the military commandant responsible for enforcing martial law in the occupied city. Officially assigned to investigate the administration of justice by the rebellious Americans toward those loyal to the crown, Savill becomes fascinated with the murdered man. As the connections between the murder and the respectable but impoverished family he lodges with become too many to ignore, Savill digs deeper into family and state secrets, ultimately exposing not only murder but treason, blackmail, and wartime profiteering. VERDICT Love and loyalty, greed and shame fuel the actors in this detailed historical mystery (winner of the 2013 Ellis Peters Historical Dagger Award) from Taylor (The Anatomy of Ghosts). A fast-paced finish makes up for a slow start and a meandering middle. Full of fascinating historical details and sympathetic to the British loyalists, this mix of history, espionage, and murder mystery will appeal to Taylor fans and first timers alike. Sarah Cohn, Manhattan Coll. Lib., Bronx, NY (c) Copyright 2014. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.