The Summer Birdcage is the latest outing for Sir John Grey, former spy and now Justice of the Peace, and Aminta, his successful playwright wife. If you have never picked up one of Len’s earlier John Grey titles please do yourself a favour and do so now – the series is set in Restoration England and although possibly not one of the best-known periods of British history, it’s certainly one of the most entertaining and colourful… and the court of Charles II is definitely one of the most infamous and scandalous of its time.
The stage in Restoration London was of enormous importance during this period, and so the worlds of theatre and court clash in The Summer Birdcage when an aspiring young actress disappears, a corpse turns up which may or may not be the missing girl. Barbara Villiers, Lady Castlemaine and favourite mistress of Charles II, becomes embroiled in the resulting scandal when rumours circulate, suggesting the lost girl was next in line to replace Villiers as the king’s favourite. And of course it is up to the former spy John Grey to wade into the treacherous waters of King Charles II’s court and find out what really is going on… and whether the king’s current mistress really is capable of murder.
The Summer Birdcage is bawdy, clever and huge, huge fun – just like the famous Restoration plays of the time. Intrigue, misunderstanding and treachery abound… and by the time you get to the last page you will be hooked on John Grey and the cast of characters associated with this series. Enjoy!
‘I was seduced from John Grey’s first scene’ Ann Cleeves
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 (perhaps a little too conveniently) in the victim’s hands.
Back in London Aminta catches sight of a young woman who looks exactly like Kitty but before she can do anything, the woman runs off and is lost in the crowd. Meanwhile, rumours abound at court that Kitty was about to become the king’s new mistress and all fingers are being pointed at Lady Castlemaine for having arranged for her rival to be spirited away and killed. And now John Grey finds that is no longer just his wife who is determined to prove Kitty Burgess is alive. It would seem her disappearance – and possible reappearance – is part of some much wider conspiracy, and that Kitty may be about to play the most dangerous, and possibly deadly, role of her life. A role from which there may be no escape …
Praise for L.C. Tyler
‘Len Tyler writes with great charm and wit . . . made me laugh out loud‘ Susanna Gregory
‘Tyler juggles his characters, story, wit and clever one liners with perfect balance‘ The Times
‘A dizzying whirl of plot and counterplot’ Guardian
‘Unusually accomplished’ Helen Dunmore
‘A cracking pace, lively dialogue, wickedly witty one-liners salted with sophistication . . . Why would we not want more of John Grey?’ The Bookbag