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(Plague and Fire #1)

3.65  ·  Rating details ·  768 ratings  ·  127 reviews
WINNER 2015 — Arthur Ellis Award for Best Crime Novel

London, 1665. A serial killer stalks his prey, scalpel in his hand and God's vengeance in his heart. 
     Five years after his restoration to the throne, Charles II leads his citizens by example, enjoying every excess. Londoners have slipped the shackles of puritanism and now flock to the cockpits, brothels and, especi
Paperback, 384 pages
Published July 15th 2014 by Doubleday Canada
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And I looked, and behold a pale horse: and his name that sat on him was Death, and Hell followed with him.

Revelations 6:8

Death stalks the streets of London...

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I had a feeling when I requested this book it was going to be a little more gruesome than I normally like...but when I saw the words- PLAGUE, RESTORATION PERIOD and SERIAL KILLER- I knew I would have to suck it up and read it anyways. I do confess that I did have to skim a teeny weenie bit over certain areas- so a word of w
4.5 stars

Chris Humphreys is an inspired historical fiction author. I met him last weekend at a literary conference and he is smart, funny, and charming as the devil. He definitely benefits from his acting background, particularly his ease with performing Shakespeare (we got an excerpt from one of the Henry plays during his key-note address). During one of his panel discussions, he mentioned that as an author, one must choose how the dialog will be written—choose your form of “bygone-ese” as he c
Sep 05, 2014 rated it it was amazing
Restoration England is often portrayed as a licentious romp where Charles II and his bevy of mistresses enjoyed an endless party. The end of the brutal civil war that saw Charles’s father beheaded brought about a joyous return to life and art, including a fervor for the theater, where women took the stage for the first time. In C.C. Humphrey’s vivid and suspenseful new novel, Plague, the first in a trilogy about this fascinating era, the atmosphere is decidedly darker.

Told through the eyes of a
Historical crime fiction set against a backdrop of the Black Plague. Took quite a while for the mystery component to unfold due to the introduction of multiple characters. It wasn't until the second half of the novel that the mystery really started to gather momentum.
Had an inkling early on in the novel as to who the culprit would be. Thought the two main characters the highwayman Captain William Coke and the thief - taker Pitman were well presented but it was Croke's ward that I enjoyed reading
Aug 12, 2014 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Not my favourite book by Humphreys but he captures London so well that its hard not to enjoy. I could see and smell the streets with his descritions. I didn't take to the main characters straight away but Coke and Pitman grew on me as they developedand I'll definitely look forward to their next adventure
Nov 08, 2019 rated it really liked it
Shelves: crime-historical
C 1665 in Jolly ol’ England as if you wouldn’t know, a date synonymous with most Brits I would like to believe & the first in a two part story with the second book being titled….. yep you’ve likely guessed “Fire” which I’ll wager takes us through 1666 & the events which shook England & in particular London.

To start the book we have a map of London in 1665 along with a list of Dramatis Personae & their occupations where Highwayman William Coke immediately takes my fancy.

It’s a fast start & we’re
Sebastien Castell
I have a troubled relationship with historical fiction. On the one hand, I love the idea of learning about another time and place through story, but all too often the reams of historical details about trousers and curtain rods lose me within the first chapters. Not so with C.C. Humphreys' Plague--a historical adventure which always hones in on characters and their perils and lets the historical details be the means through which we see just how precarious their lives are.

The story centres around
Maria Hill AKA MH Books
Dick Turpin was one of my favourite characters when I was an adolescent. Add to this a gory murder story, the plague and of course stinky, overcrowded London of the 17th century and this book should have been right up my alley. The plot was fast moving (it would make a good action movie) and the dialogue, for the male characters at least, well written.

Captain Coke is a gentleman Highway man. The thief-catcher is a working class, religious man who is trying to earn enough to raise his every grow
Sep 30, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
A really great read. Murder, plague, religious fanatics and a host of great characters. This story has it all. London in 1665 is a riotous place. The monarchy has been restored, women can tread the boards and the plague has reared it's pestilential head. Humphreys evokes the sights and sounds of London vividly. He also populates his books with vibrant characters, particularly the protagonists, Pitman and Coke. On opposite sides of the law, both must forge an alliance to apprehend the murderer co ...more
Jan 06, 2015 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
murder mystery based at the time of the great plague of London 1665 felt like you could touch and smell the grime the way the author sets the scene and really enjoyed it with the characters and a page turner too
finished my first Read-a-thon book!
Patrick Rooney
Oct 23, 2016 rated it really liked it
Plague, by C.C. Humphreys, is an excellent historical drama set during the time of the Great Plague in London in 1665. The characters were interesting, unique, and believable, mainly because the author's descriptions accurately depicted the fashions, speech, and mannerisms of the various classes at the time. The author's historical knowledge of the theater is evident throughout the book. For instance, actresses, who are often placed "on a pedestal" by people these days, usually worked as high-cl ...more
Apr 02, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Anne 2017

Plague CC Humphreys

Anne 2017

Very good book - 5 *****

The plot involves a period of history rich with intrigue and danger- the reign of Charles II in 1665 and London's great Plague attack woven in with the threat the Fifth Monarchists posed to the religious status quo of the day.
It's a thriller and a tender love story and an examination of PTSD rolled into one.

Captain Coke (English Civil War survivor who has turned highwayman, though not deadly as he never loads his guns) with his ward in
Jun 27, 2014 rated it really liked it
I really enjoyed this one. It reminded me of the Elizabethan theatre mysteries, I think the similarities went beyond the settings of pre- Great Fire theatre. This story offers a very gruesome twist to period murder; with a damaged and psychotic murderer on the loose in London. The murderer is driven by a religious mania and a belief that the end of days in almost upon the world, a belief that is given added weight as plague breaks out across the city of London. The depiction of the damage done t ...more
Nov 20, 2016 rated it really liked it
A fast paced crime novel, set in 1665 during the Black Death. the filth of the London streets, the brothels, cockfights, taverns, and terrible prisons gives an atmospheric setting and a subtle history lesson. It was a time of excess, and women were allowed to act on stage for the first time, and the actresses considered ladies of loose morals. The characters of Captain Coke, a highwayman, and Pitman,the thief catcher were well done and entertaining. Was interesting to read about how London cope ...more
Apr 10, 2017 rated it liked it
This book took me forever to read. The start is slow, as in the first 100 pages or so. After there is a gruesome scene that was almost enough to make me stop reading. Once I picked it up again the story drastically improved after page 160 or so. All and all an interesting time period, filled with plague, intrigue and murder just not wonderfully done.
Sandy S.
Disclosure: ARC provided by Doubleday Canada

3.5 stars – why oh why Goodreads won’t you give us half stars?!?

I must say, Plague by C.C. Humphreys is a book that is right up my alley: a gruesome murder mystery, the bubonic plague, and olden-times all wrapped up into one easy-breezy summer read.

We are first introduced to Captain Coke – a former military captain turned highwayman who encounters the brutal murders of some uppercrust peeps he had been planning to rob himself. He flees with an expensi
Jun 01, 2014 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: review-read
I received this book as a Goodreads giveaway.

I was worried when I started the book. The first chapter was exciting, intriguing and made me want to read on and learn more about Captain Coke, then in the second chapter, he's referred to as Captain Cock! I was sure the rest of the book would be littered with typos and poor editing, taking away from the story. But I was very wrong, the name difference is part of the story, and only added to the development of the characters and plot.

This is an excit
Julia Brannan
Nov 21, 2019 rated it it was amazing
I thoroughly enjoyed this book - in fact I found it very difficult to put down! The author has a very individual style, and managed to combine compelling storytelling, fabulous historical detail woven seamlessly into the story, with wonderful and believable characters. It was one of those books that pulls you completely into the story and time period, so that you live in the book, as it were. I can't recommend this highly enough. A must-read for all fans of historical fiction.
3.5 stars. I almost really enjoyed this book. There were so many great elements but it didn't quite work. It may have been down to the excessive (in my opinion) descriptive violence and unpleasant imagery. Think torture and dead cats. Not a book to read while eating. It was this same talent for description, however, that made the book so good. I really felt like I was there rather than just reading about the events. And the characters were well drawn. I sometimes have difficulties keeping the ch ...more
Sam Campbell
Feb 18, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I got this book as a blind date book from my local library and was a bit sceptical at first. However, it didn't take very long for me to get into the story. I actually really enjoyed this. The story is written in an easy to understand style and the plot is very fast paced. The characters are easy to identify with, whether good, bad or in between. The time period of the Plague is of interest to me and thought it was handled well by the author. I would recommend to anyone who fancies something dif ...more
Plague stalks London's streets in the company of a brutal serial murderer. While I did enjoy the character of gentleman highwayman Captain Coke - and Pitman, detective and bounty hunter - this novel was a little too violent and grim for my squeamish tastes. I suspect that readers of crime fiction would enjoy this more.

Shawn Bird
A serial killer detective book set in 17c century England. Plague sets the scene and adds suspense, as Pittman the thief-taker and Capt Cock the thief search for a murderer.

Humphreys's is a master of pacing and always delivers a theatrical page turner!

Audio book is dramatically narrated by Humphreys, as he is also a professional actor.
James McCann
Jun 28, 2014 rated it really liked it
Good murder mystery set in the time of the plague.
Jun 26, 2019 rated it liked it
As the title suggests, this novel is set during the year of the Great Plague of London in 1665. It follows a few main characters whose lives cross paths: Captain Coke - a highwayman, Dickon - Captain Coke’s ward, Pitman - a thieftaker, Lucy Absolute - an actress, Sarah Chalker - actress, Lord Garnthorpe - nobleman and fifth monarchist, Earl of Rochester and Abel Strong. Against the background of the plague ravaging London, mysterious murders begin with which the various characters are somehow co ...more
Jul 28, 2017 rated it liked it
Don't know what to say about it but "interesting." Humphreys can spin a good historical yarn. The French Executioner was one of my all time faves.

This one, however, wandered away from the London plague and more into seedy murder mystery with sickness kind of going on in the background? I suppose I knew that by the jacket but I sort of expected something different, given the title.

What was nice to see was his dedication to the research (as always) and an element of gory "real" detail that is of
May 07, 2017 rated it liked it
I thought I would enjoy this novel a lot more than I did. The characters were quite interesting, and I really liked the way the author introduced each one, giving them all their own chapter and spotlight at the very beginning of the book. The language of the book was perfectly written to fit in with the surroundings; the author did a great job setting the scene. However, I felt that the plot itself was lackluster, at times dragging and at times rushed. Some parts of the plot were quite unnecessa ...more
Robin Rivers
Nov 02, 2017 rated it really liked it
I should have known that a book entitled "Plague" would require a strong stomach. The detail with which C.C. Humphreys lays out death, mutilation and more makes even the hardiest soul nauseous. But, once you get past the graphic display, Plague is a wonderful exploration of the ravages of war on men's psyches, the value of unexpected friendships and the mercurial beast of love.

Understanding that Humphreys takes great pains to infuse the novel with period-specific language and imagery, I did stil
Jul 05, 2018 rated it liked it
I read the ARC version and spelling/grammar mistakes aside, I really enjoyed the story overall. The author had a rambling way of writing at times that wasn't easy to read. Sometimes I'd have to re-read paragraphs to discern the point they were making. The author could have used more sentence breaks and less commas.

Still, the flow of the story was compelling, I enjoyed the characters, the settings were well described, and the ending was satisfying for me. I haven't read or watched too many storie
Larry Epp
Mar 10, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
May 1665 -- restoration era. London is awash with refugees from the continent, unemployed soldiers from the recent brutality of civil war, and the stench of close living with no sewage or waste disposal. William Coke, highwayman is wrongly accused of the brutal robbery/murder chased by thief catcher Pitman. The two end up joining together to catch the apocalyptic serial killer. Add in the plague, a rescue of the King's brother and love interest actress. So many details of London living that don' ...more
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aka Chris Humphreys

Chris (C.C.) Humphreys was born in Toronto, lived till he was seven in Los Angeles, then grew up in the UK. All four grandparents were actors, and since his father was an actor as well, it was inevitable he would follow the bloodline.

Chris (C.C.) Humphreys has played Hamlet in Calgary, a gladiator in Tunisia, waltzed in London’s West End, conned the landlord of the Rovers Retur

Other books in the series

Plague and Fire (2 books)
  • Fire

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