The Muscovy Chain

The Muscovy Chain by John Pilkington.  If this is the end for the Thomas the Falconer series, then Pilkington leaves us breathless.  Taking place on the Downs of England in 1596, the seventh novel in the set finds Sir Robert Vicary, Thomas’ lord, hosting the Russian ambassador on a visit to England.  Grigori Stanic arrives at the manor expecting a few days of pleasant hunting and to secretly accept a priceless jeweled gift meant for another Russian aristocrat who holds the keys to lucrative trade agreements between the two countries.  However, someone else feels that they have a claim on the jewels and sends a master thief to retrieve it.  This story is less a mystery of deduction than a galloping adventure romp.  When bodies start appearing, some of them showing signs of horrible torture, and the valuable chain goes missing, Sir Robert calls upon his expert falconer with an ability to solve complex puzzles.  Some might argue that at least one of the subplots is extraneous, serving only to increase the level of violence in the book, and could have been cut out like a tumor with no harm to main plot.  Irregardless, Pilkington’s description of the English countryside and its sometimes rough inhabitants is splendid.  The novel moves rapidly from scene to scene as Thomas and evil, cowled killer parry each others moves until a final climax is achieved. 

Pilkington has decided to start a new Elizabethan mystery series for children featuring Ben Button and a troupe of players.  Let us hope that he returns to the Downs in the future to continue Thomas’ adventures.

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