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It is the John Grey Historical Mystery series, not Diana Gabaldon’s Lord John Grey series.
What is the John Grey series about?
British writer L. C. Tyler is currently writing two series of crime novels. The first one is the Ethelred and Elsie mysteries. And the second one is the historical crime series featuring 17th-century lawyer John Grey.
Set in the 1650s and 1660s, the series is about the investigations of John Grey, and his childhood friend Aminta Clifford. At first, John Grey is just a young lawyer searching for work, but as the novels progress, time passes and his career evolves.
Grey found a benefactor in Lord Arlington, and his successes helped him to make a name for himself. Still, there are more murder mysteries to solve!
How to read the John Grey Books in Order?
Every book in the John Grey Historical Mystery series works as a standalone story, but the lives of the different characters evolve from one novel to the other.
- A Cruel Necessity (2014)
- A Masterpiece of Corruption (2016)
- The Plague Road (2016)
- Fire (2017)
- The Bleak Midwinter (2018)
- Death of a Shipbuilder (2020)
- Too Much of Water (2021)
- The Summer Birdcage (2022)
- A Well-Earned Death (2023)
What is the plot of the John Grey Historical Mystery novels?
For more information about the books in the John Grey Historical Mystery series by L.C. Tyler, you’ll find below the official synopsis for all the books:
A Cruel Necessity – This is England in the year 1657, Oliver Cromwell is in power, and joy has essentially been outlawed. A young lawyer with a taste for beer and pretty women, Grey finds pleasures enough, even in this backwater Essex town, but he’d be wise to keep his amusement to himself: A Royalist spy has been found dead in a local ditch, and Cromwell’s agents are eager—distressingly eager—to explain to Grey that this is nothing to laugh about.
A Masterpiece of Corruption – It is December 1657. John Grey, at his cramped desk in Lincoln’s Inn, is attempting to resume his legal career. A mysterious message from a ‘Mr SK’ tempts him out into the snowy streets of London and to what he believes will be a harmless diversion from his studies. But Mr SK’s letter proves to have been intended for somebody else entirely and Grey unwittingly finds himself in the middle of a plot to assassinate the Lord Protector – a plot about which he now knows more than it is safe to know.
The Plague Road – 1665, and the Great Plague has London in its grip. Everyone who can has fled and the only sounds are the tolling bells and the incessant cry of ‘bring out your dead!’. Where better, then, to hide a murdered man than amongst the corpses on their way to the plague pit? John Grey, now a successful lawyer, is called in by Secretary of State Lord Arlington to investigate an unexpected admission to the Tothill pit. The man was, before his murder, known to be carrying a letter from the Duke of York to the French ambassador. But the letter has vanished and Arlington wants it.
Fire – 1666. London has been destroyed by fire and its citizens are looking for somebody, preferably foreign, to blame. Only the royal Court, with its strong Catholic sympathies, is trying to dampen down the post-conflaguration hysteria. Then, inconveniently, a Frenchman admits to having started it together with an accomplice, whom he says he has subsequently killed. John Grey is tasked by Secretary of State, Lord Arlington, with proving conclusively that the self-confessed fire-raiser is lying.
The Bleak Midwinter – 1668. John Grey is now a Justice of the Peace and lives in the manor house he inherited on his mother’s death with his new wife, Aminta. As the village is cut off from the rest of the world by heavy snowfall, George Barwell is discovered dead in the woods. Grey is called to examine the horribly disfigured body amidst the rumors that the attack has been the work of the Devil as the victim had been cursed by reputed witch Alice Mardike just days before his violent death. As Barwell’s father-in-law leads the villagers into kidnapping Alice and throwing her into the millpond to see if she floats as a witch or drowns as an innocent woman, Grey agrees to investigate the murder.
Death of a Shipbuilder – John Grey is visited at his London office by Thomas Cade, a shipbuilder, who tells Grey he has evidence that Samuel Pepys is taking substantial bribes in his position at the Naval Office. Grey sends him on his way, telling him he has little chance against such a powerful man as Pepys – and then the following morning Cade’s stabbed body is found in the grounds of Lincoln’s Inn. Later that day Grey meets up with his benefactor Lord Arlington who tells him the king himself wants Grey to investigate corruption in the Naval Office – and it occurs to Grey that by dismissing Cade to his death, he has now lost his best witness and informant.
Too Much of Water – 1670. Eastwold, once one of the greatest ports in England, has been fighting a losing battle with the sea ever since it was granted its charter by King John. Bit by bit the waves have eaten the soft cliffs on which it stands, until only a handful of houses remain. But still it sends two MPs to Parliament and rich men from London are prepared to pay well for the votes of the dozen or so remaining burgesses of the town. The voters are looking forward to a profitable bye-election, only for the Admiralty’s candidate, the unpopular Admiral Digges, to end up in a fishing net, every bit as drowned as his prospective constituency. John Grey receives a request from the authorities to uncover the truth.
The Summer Birdcage – Duke’s Company actress Kitty Burgess has a stunning future before her – until she vanishes after the opening performance of Aminta Grey’s new play, The Summer Birdcage. One of her fellow actors swears he saw her being bundled into a black coach driven by six black horses outside the theatre. Then no more is heard of her – until the body of a young woman is found dead beside the road in Hertfordshire. It appears to be Kitty, so Aminta and her husband Sir John Grey, travel to Bishop’s Stortford to identify her. The girl has been so badly beaten it is impossible to tell who she is, but there are three clues–the dress she is wearing, a ring and a copy of the script of Aminta’s play, left in the victim’s hands.
A Well-Earned Death – In 1671 there are fortunes to be made in Barbados, owning slaves and planting sugar cane. But drought, floods, locusts and his own incompetence have brought Hubert Umfraville down and caused him to flee the island in the most humiliating fashion. Now back in England, he hopes to restore his fortunes through extortion. In Barbados, he has discovered a secret that people here may pay him to keep quiet about.
What should you read if you like the John Grey Historical Mystery novels?
If you like reading L.C. Tyler’s John Grey Historical Mysteries, you may be interested in Josephine Tey, Nicholas Shelby, DI Tom Harper.