Dark Matter by Philip Kerr

 

MysteryDark Matter by Philip Kerr

Dark MatterPhilip Kerr; Orion WorldCat

The Private Life of Sir Isaac Newton

In 1696 Sir Isaac Newton was the Warden of the Royal Mint in London. He needed a clerk because his previous clerk had disappeared six months earlier. Christopher Ellis, a young Cambridge trained gentleman, took the position. England is at war with France and is replacing all their coins. The country is on the brink of financial disaster if any of many variables went wrong.

Newton’s job is to run the mint and to stop counterfeiting. Ellis lives in the Tower by where the mint is located. The first night he stays there he is attacked by a madman. Soon thereafter, a body is dredged up from the moat. Newton comes to the Tower to see the body. Although he doesn’t tell the local Tower regiment, Newton realises the body is that of Ellis’ predecessor. Thus Ellis and Newton find themselves entwined in a mystery of counterfeiting coining, smuggling, a political uprising, and a plot to kill Newton himself.

This is a first person narrative by Ellis. He is an active young gentleman, dueling, whoring, and spying for Newton. He describes his fear of ghosts in the Tower, the opium den he followed a suspect to, and the woman he loves. He knows he doesn’t have Newton’s intelligence but tries to keep up with the genius.

The description of England at the end of the 17th century is vivid and illuminating. Kerr did his research to give a portrait of the time period and the personality of Sir Isaac Newton. I enjoyed the picture of life in England at the time. But the mystery did not pull my attention. Newton is not a sympathetic character – although he may not have been an easy person in real life. The book is fair – if you want to know England at the time, go into the non-fiction section.

Notice: Non-graphic violence,Strong sexual content

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