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The Sweet Smell of Decay [Paperback]

Paul Lawrence

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Book Description

April 1 2011 The Chronicles of Harry Lytle
In the vein of Bernard Cornwell and George MacDonald Fraser comes the first installment in a historical mystery series set in Restoration London and starring the irrepressible Harry Lytle
It's London, 1664, and Harry has a big problem. He has just discovered he has a young cousin, Anne Giles, and he has had the pleasure of meeting her for the first time—mutilated and laid out on the slab for an autopsy. His father has tasked him with job of tracking down Anne’s murderer. Harry has some robust assistance from one David Dowling, a resourceful, impressively well-built, yet equally hygiene-deficient, butcher. Together they follow a trail of blood, conspiracy, and corruption that takes them to the dark and murky corners of Restoration London, featuring a great cast of ne'er-do-wells, cheeky wenches, harmless witches, likeable villains, and not a few unsavory fellows keen on sending Lytle and his companion to an early grave.

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 442 pages
  • Publisher: Beautiful Books (April 1 2011)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1905636423
  • ISBN-13: 978-1905636426
  • Product Dimensions: 19.3 x 13 x 3 cm
  • Shipping Weight: 340 g
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #1,065,877 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Product Description

About the Author

Paul Lawrence is the author of The Chronicles of Harry Lytle series.

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Customer Reviews

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on (beta) 4.4 out of 5 stars  8 reviews
17 of 19 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A THOROUGHLY DELIGHTFUL READ July 11 2010
By S. Pennington - Published on
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
The Sweet Smell of Decay, Paul Lawrence's first installment of the Harry Lytle Chronicles, opens in the year 1664, with Oliver Cromwell dead and Charles Stuart occupying the throne of England where feuds abound, religious temper seethes, and witch-hunting is heinous sport.

Accompanied by the pious butcher, Davy Dowling, Harry Lytle finds himself standing reluctantly in the vestry of St. Brides Church. Is this woman lying before him a cousin - or no? Harry hasn't a clue. Other than the cryptic letter from his father tucked safely in his pocket. Nor does the relationship in question even matter as he stands over Anne Giles' ravaged corpse. What had she done to deserve such a dastardly end to her young life? Her slight body bound to the pulpit, red hair splayed about her shoulders and breasts, eyes gouged from their sockets and a cord tied around her mouth with such force the killer broke her teeth.

An eye for an eye, a tooth for a tooth? Clues Harry will seek, and clues he will find, for he and Dowling have been charged with solving this gruesome murder by a trusted advisor to the King himself!

Not that Harry Lytle goes about the countryside seeking to solve crimes of such vileness. He much rather fancies himself in one of London's fine taverns like the Crowne where he partakes to his heart's content of pipes and ale.

But he is Anne Giles relative, is he not?

Now, where shall he and Dowling begin their search? Perhaps with St. Brides' rector who speaks of witchery and missing keys? The old woman, Mary Bedford, selling meats in the village and perceived to practice the black arts? Or maybe young Anne's husband, the very cause of her estrangement from her family?

The trail of "What ifs" steer Harry and Dowling hastily to the dungeon-like cells of Newgate prison where a man named Richard Joyce is already held for Anne's murder, and within days, will be tried, hung, drawn and quartered if found guilty - and he will be found guilty. But Harry's gut says Joyce killed no woman. Alas, Harry's confounded gut screams Joyce's innocence!

From Westminster Hall to The Mermaid Tavern on Cheapside, a dank cellar in Alsatia and concluding in a shocking courtroom trial with a most surprising outcome, Paul Lawrence invites readers to accompany Harry Lytle on a dangerous tromp through city and countryside where no one and nothing is as it seems. Time and again, while reading Lawrence's novel, I mused at how his historical mystery could be transported to modern times and easily hold its own.

The Sweet Smell of Decay (ISBN 9781905636426, Beautiful Books LTD) is followed by the sequel, A Plague of Sinners (ISBN 9781905636914, Beautiful Books LTD) . I'm pleased to report I've read both, and Paul Lawrence has me thoroughly hooked. If you like well-crafted, witty tales with endearing characters, revolting villains, clever twists and unpredicted turns, this series does not disappoint. I eagerly await the third installment. (Reviewed by Sharon Cupp Pennington, author of
Hoodoo Money & Mangroves and Monsters)
6 of 7 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars More crime novel than historical mystery Jan. 31 2012
By Joyce in San Francisco - Published on
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
I am a historcal mystery lover, and eagerly awaited a new author. I was very disappointed that this book read more like a crime novel than a historical mystery. The story opened with a rather graphic description of the murder victim - ok - that often sets up a good plot. This one carried on in the muck and filth. Rather than focusing on history and unraveling an intellectual puzzle, it focused on poverty and the uglier of the human functions. When the gist of the story lead to the conclusion that all women had been or were whores, I stopped reading. Would rather read a "Susanna Gregory" mystery any day over this.
5 of 7 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars History Couldn't be Cooler June 12 2010
By C. Hope Clark - Published on
17th century London finds Harry Lytle in a dull life accented only by his tavern outings. Then his cousin is murdered, and he is tasked with solving the crime. Assisted by his friend, a butcher named David Dowling, Harry lights out across London, from its slums to its aristocracy. Author Paul Lawrence makes history happen in real time, catapulting the reader back in time to make old England intriguing in this murder mystery. The Sweet Smell of Decay is a grand read, as is the sequel A Plague of Sinners. Not available through US Amazon, book two can be found at Amazon UK and is considered better than the first volume in the Harry Lytle Historical Thriller Series. I've read both, and have added them to my permanent library. See more about the series at [...] and visit the publisher at [...]
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Incredible Mystery set in a time slip of olde England Feb. 3 2012
By A. N. Patterson - Published on
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
This book was written with a lot of poise and sophistication. The context of the mystery and how it unfolds was worthy of Agatha Christie itself. I have been reading a lot of mystery's set back in time lately and this is the best one I have read yet. It is not published in the U.S. and seemed to take forever to get here but was more than worth the wait. I am eagerly awaiting the second book. Harry Lytle and his helper Dowling are an awkward pair at first but their different familiarity with different people and places in London bring the story to a well rounded tour of London and its people. The methods of the murders are ghastly and shocking. The value that is place on life in London in 1664 is high and low as is so often the case in our world today. I have read thousands of books and have a B.A. in English from UNC-CH. This book would be in my top favorite list of all time.
4.0 out of 5 stars brilliant March 22 2014
By hippy - Published on
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
After a somewhat cumbersome starting, excellent ending, humorous, this peculiar Harry Lytle. A lot can be expected from future chronicles

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