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The Invention of Fire    by Bruce Holsinger order for
Invention of Fire
by Bruce Holsinger
Order:  USA  Can
William Morrow, 2015 (2015)
Hardcover, CD, e-Book
* * *   Reviewed by Bob Walch

Here's an excellent period piece set in 14th century London and featuring John Gower and his friend Geoffrey Chaucer. Historian and literary scholar Bruce Holsinger captures daily life in Medieval England as this clever mystery unravels around the appearance of the handgun.

When the bodies of sixteen men are dumped in a waste drainage ditch in London, Gower is asked to investigate the massacre. The corpses feature odd wounds that suggest a new weapon was used in the atrocity and this might be the harbinger of even worse things to come.

As the story unfolds, the reader not only follows Gower's painstaking investigation but also the development of a new weapon called the handgonne and how it becomes a key element in a plot to upset the country's political power structure.

With the placement of some clever red herrings, Gower nearly bungles this intriguing case but with a little assistance from Chaucer and timely revelations, the medieval poet and fixer is able to save the day and keep a disaster from creating chaos on London's crowded streets.

The sequel to A Burnable Book, this second novel featuring John Gower is as entertaining as the amateur sleuth's debut. This is the ideal blend of history with pitch perfect characterization and clever plotting.

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