The latest offering in the ‘Journals of Matthew Quinton’ by historian J. D. Davies, Death’s Bright Angel, starts with Matthew taking part in a little known raid on the Dutch at Vlie which became known as “Holmes’s Bonfire”.
The theme of fire continues as the majority of the book deals with Quinton and some of his crew helping to fight the conflagration of the Great Fire of London and the results of the public paranoia that it created. As an historian Davies has done some excellent research of the historical records surrounding one of the most famous events in English history and whilst the narrative is of course fiction, it is based on fact and there is a detailed ‘Historical Investigation’ at the end.
Whilst for the naval fiction purist the book may spend too much time ashore, one of the most famous characters associated with the Navy at the time was Samuel Pepys and he is probably best remembered for his diary entries on the Fire. The effects of the fire, in an age when the fleet did not keep the sea during the winter and had to be funded when the new fighting season started, particularly it’s impact on the national economy, were undoubtedly a factor leading to the infamous Dutch victory at Chatham the following year which I assume will feature in the next book of the series. It is am important bridge between the large scale battles and victories that preceded it and the ignominious defeat that followed it and the detailed land based narrative is therefore both justified and important to the series as a whole.
Personally I enjoyed the whole of the book, learning of a naval raid I was not previously aware of and much more detail about the Great Fire, and found it to be a hard to put down. Highly Recommended.