Cover Image: The House of Lamentations

The House of Lamentations

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Whilst his enemies believe him dead, Damian Seeker is very much alive and living undercover in Bruges tracking a group of Royalists. When an old woman arrives at the Engle Kloster ready to donate all her money to the restoration of Charles, she asks this group for an escort but in the process of this they are ambushed and Hildred Beaumont is killed. Her maid is none other than Lady Anne Winter, Seeker's nemesis, in disguise and When Lady Beaumont's son turns up, Seeker finds that their are potential betrayals at every turn.

I was sad to hear that this was the last outing for MacLean's anti hero as I'd really enjoyed these tales which are set during the Commonwealth which is an unusual period for historical fiction. In this book the action takes place in and around Bruges and it is vividly brought to life through thorough research. As ever the plot is cleverly put together with different narrative lines all converging at the end.
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The House if Lamentations is the fifth and final instalment of the Damien Seeker series and sees Seeker going Dutch and kicking down doors. This series has been an absolute belter, and the last book is just as high standard as the previous ones. There are multiple plot threads that may or may not be linked and we come full circle as Lady Anne Winter rears her pretty head again albeit donning a nuns wimple. 
Maclean’s writing is sharp, intelligent and there’s a wry wit sprinkled throughout to stop things get too dark. Puritanism was never so exciting, I have loved Seekers character development as this series has progress it is one of the main reasons this series is so good. All of the characters are changed as they live through a tumultuous period of history that sees them grapple with their own morals and those of their leaders eventually becoming disillusioned and questioning what it was all for. 
The only negative I have about The House of Lamentations is that old favourites are left at home in London. My favourite thing was that Seeker is six and half feet tall and built like a brick shit house but all he has to do to go unrecognised is don new hat and a carpenters tool bag and he’s invisible. It’s defiantly a move from the Clark Kent school of espionage and deceit. Brilliant.
Things around rounded off nicely but a few flapping threads are left allowing the reader to guess at what is next for Seeker and of course he goes back for his dog. What a guy.
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I'm a bit sad because this is the last book in this great series that became a favorite.
It's a gripping and exciting story that I read as fast as I could savoring the complex plot and the various subplots.
The descriptions of Bruges in the XVII are amazing and it was like travelling back in time and seeing the city like it was.
The author is a talented storyteller and the plot flows and keeps you hooked till the last page.
I missed the London setting and the usual cast of characters but it was exciting to meet new characters and see old faces in a new environment.
I'd be happy to meet again Seeker in a new setting and discovering what happened after this book ended even if I don't know if it's feasible.
It was a great read that I strongly recommend.
Many thanks to the publisher and Netgalley for this ARC, all opinions are mine.
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I’m definitely in a minority here, feeling a bit underwhelmed by the final book in the series. The majority of this story takes place in Bruges during the dying embers of Cromwell’s rule while Seeker, now John Carpenter continues his work for Thurloe keeping an eye on the remaining Cavaliers who have escaped to Bruges. I missed the London setting and all the familiar entourage of Seeker’s life in Britain. There is no doubt that the quality of the historical research remains high in this novel, but the details of what happens to Seeker and his family of friends is consigned to the epilogue, where I had been hoping for more. Many thanks to Netgalley for an arc of this book.
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Damien Seeker #5

Set in 1658: Damian has been exiled to Bruges to spy on the English royalists. He's working as a carpenter. Bruges is the home of the loyalists to Charles II. Damian works for spymaster Thurloe on behalf of Cromwell who is on his deathbed. 

i did not know that this was the fifth boo in the series when i requested it. it's also the last boo to be written about Damian Seeker. There is a lot of subplots within this story. The book has been well researched' filled with twists and well written. A well blended story of fact and fiction. I would have liked to have read the other books in this series before i read this one. It did read well as a standalone. .

I would like to thank NetGalley, Quercus Books and the author S.G. MacLean for my ARC in exchange for an honest review.
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From Goodreads:
These just get better and better
The final outing for Damian Seeker - I am more than upset if there are no more.
The action moves to Europe where Seeker is an undercover agent thwarting the Royalists as ever. 
As ever, this feels well researched with a real sense of time and place. We've got several interwoven plot lines and a list of characters that are both new and the familiar.
A cracking piece if historical crime/fiction.
If we can't have more Seeker, can we have the return of Alexander Seaton!
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This is the final book in the Damien Seeker series, set following the English Civil War. This copy was an ARC and it comes out in the UK in the first week of July.
It's the fifth book in the series, so you might not want to read this review for spoilers.

'The Seeker' is an enforcer for the new peace, looking for those plotting against Cromwell. And there are many plotting against Cromwell, from those who support the King, to extremist free-thinkers who think 'The Protector' didn't go far enough with his reforms. One of the big attractions of this series for me is the depth of Cromwell's London MacLean shows. Coffee shops are full of plotters, pamphlets are being printed and passed from hand to hand, and (almost) everyone has had to make difficult decisions over allegiances.

The existence of this book is in itself a spoiler, given the plot of the previous book. I would say you want to read the others before you pick up this one.

Have I mentioned spoilers enough?

Seeker was declared dead at the end of the previous book, apparently killed by a bear. His handler has sent him to Bruges, hotbed of Royalist opposition, to try and root out future plots against Cromwell from the royalists around Charles in exile. As a carpenter, he uses his skills to work for the businesses around the town, relying on 'trade' entrances to avoid awkward encounters with opponents who might yet recognise him. The royalists suspect a double agent in their midst after various plots were uncovered and the plotters killed. News reaches Seeker that an agent is being sent from London to sniff out the duplicitous member of the Royalist group. This is his 'one last job' as news also reaches him that his star crossed (bear-crossed?) love is being persuaded to head for the New World by her brother, who is sick of Cromwell's turn to authoritarianism.

Will Seeker survive the 'last job'? Will the agent find the double-agent? And what has the mysterious death of an Englishman looking for his sister in Bruges got to do with all of this?

Note: This series is enhanced by imagining Sean Bean narrating in your head (Seeker is also from Yorkshire).
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The House of Lamentation by S.G. MacLean

It is 1658 and Cromwell’s England is no longer what it was. Cromwell himself, who lives in palaces as a king in all but name, is rumoured to be dangerously ill while his regime tortures and brutally executes minor royalists for little more than unwise gossip. People are leaving the country, sick at how events have played out. But, while disenchanted Puritans head to the Americas, royalists head eastwards to Bruges where the exiled King Charles II plots with his impoverished court to reclaim his throne. And that is where we find Damian Seeker, a secret agent of Cromwell’s spymaster John Thurloe. Seeker, undercover as a carpenter, has a spy among Charles’s circle and the royalists are determined to identify who it is. Seeker hears word that a woman is being sent to sniff them out. Seeker knows that his identity would also be revealed and his fate would be sealed. But in a city full of English refugees, with both a convent and a brothel a focus for new arrivals, where is this woman to be found? The race is on to be the first to discover her identity.

The enigmatic Damian Seeker is one of my favourite figures in historical fiction and I always look forward to these books. Sadly, The House of Lamentations, the fifth in the series, is the last. This novel brings together the men and women, spies and double agents of the previous books and so, while it is a self-contained story in many ways, I would definitely recommend that you read these five books in order. The fourth novel, The Bear Pit, especially influences events here.

Knowing that The House of Lamentations is the last in the series, I went into the novel with some trepidation. The enigmatic Damian Seeker is one of my favourite figures in historical fiction and I always look forward to these books. I will miss Seeker very much. But history tells us that Cromwell’s Commonwealth didn’t last and that 1658 was a turning point in its demise. This was a dangerous time, of tension, uncertainty and cruelty. All of this is brilliantly captured by S.G. MacLean. The opening chapter leaves us in no doubt as to the brutality and unhappiness of Cromwell’s London and England in 1658. It’s a shocking opening and it feels like a relief when we’re then taken to Bruges and the shabby court of the king in exile.

Bruges is a change of scene for these novels and I really enjoyed discovering the city as it would have been in the mid-17th century. Bruges is in the control of Spain, Jesuit priests walk its streets. The city’s institutions are brought to such vivid life here – its convent, its brothel and its prison, all of which influence events. Then there is the house containing four of Charles’s supporters, not all of whom are as they seem. One of them is someone we got to know well in The Bear Pit. The reader knows this can’t end well. But there are new people to meet here, too, including the extraordinary and resiliently mysterious Sister Janet, an Englishwoman who became a nun in Bruges over fifty years ago. I thoroughly enjoyed the chapters spent in her company. Nobody knows what she’s up to. The Seeker may have met his match. I’ve always liked Lady Anne in these books. There is conflict and chemistry in her relationship with Seeker and, once more, this is one of the highlights of The House of Lamentations.

There is much more to this novel than its tale of spies and plots. There is another story running through it of a young woman with a terribly scarred face. Seeker is driven to find her and learn her story, even though he knows this puts his mission in jeopardy. We, too, are desperate to know. The curious link between the convent and the brothel is also explored so brilliantly as we learn about the choices many women were forced to make. There is an undercurrent to this novel. This is a man’s world in so many ways but the novel draws on all life, male and female, and, with the exception of the tremendous Seeker, my favourite characters are its women.

The House of Lamentations is a fine finale to a superb series set during one of the most fascinating, exciting and dangerous periods in English history. I was fully immersed in its story and its setting, which is brought to life due to all of the historical detail, whether it describes town streets, buildings, clothes, furnishings or people. This is an excellent historical mystery, spy thriller and adventure which is, as always with this series, beautifully told. If you haven’t read these books then now, with the series complete, is the perfect time to do so. You will not be disappointed. I look forward to going wherever this wonderful author next takes us.

Other reviews
The Seeker
The Black Friar
Destroying Angel
The Bear Pits by S.G. MacLean
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The House of Lamentations is the 5th in Shona Maclean’s much praised Seeker series.

It’s 1658, Damian Seeker is living under cover in Bruges keeping tabs on the royalist followers of the exiled King Charles who are scheming to restore Charles to the thrown. Meanwhile in London the Protector, Cromwell, is in the last days of his life and all around him are preparing for a power shift and a new leader.

The royalists have discovered that there is a spy within their midst they have no idea who it is and send their own spy to spy on Seeker’s spy. Complicated? Yes but Maclean weaves a complex plot around these characters while providing a fascinating and detailed understanding of life in 17th century Bruges and the politics of England and Europe.

The House of Lamentations is historical fiction at it’s very best. The publisher says this is the last in the series. I hope not!
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Brilliant final book in Damien Seeker series. I love good historical fiction and MacLean's rendering of Cromwellian England is replete with historical detail and political intrigue. Highly recommend the entire series.
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This is the final part of the Seeker story. This series provides a fascinating insight into the various intrigues of the Cromwell 'court' and the attempts by Royalists to reinstall Charles 2 to the throne. The plots are myriad and the Hero is Damien Seeker. In this series one learns about the real life stresses of the citizenry and also the different religious sects which existed, rose and fell during this turbulent  period in history. Highly recommend this series
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Another exciting book from Shona MacLean.  This is the fifth and supposedly last book in the series.  Set in 1658, Damian Seeker has been exiled to Bruges to spy on English royalists and discover their plots.  As with all the books in this series, the historical setting is excellent and well-researched.  There are a number of storylines that twist and surprise before reaching the dramatic climax.  The characters are superb and I really do hope that this isn't actually the last outing for Damian Seeker, I shall miss him.  
A fast-paced book that's highly recommended.
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Thank you to Netgalley and the publisher for this review copy. Unlike the previous novels, Seeker is undercover in Bruges , without his usual resources.  With the “reign” of Cromwell nearing its end, Seeker is desperate to finish his latest job and go home to England and Maria. Unfortunately, the murder of a newly arrived English man sets off a chain of events that could make this impossible. I  have been a fan of The Seeker series since the first novel came out and this instalment does not disappoint. Though the blurb states this is the final book in the series, I do hope MacLean will chose to utilise some of the characters we have grown to love in future novels.
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In Bruges

After the less than satisfactory ‘Bear Pit’ this final offering in the tale of Damien Seeker demonstrates a real return to form. Seeker is now Cromwell’s undercover agent in Spanish Flanders, spying on the vagabond Royalists gathered there. Cromwell himself has fallen ill and is on his death bed and this conjures a resurgence of hope in the exiled King Charles.

There are a number of intrigues bustling around in this new novel, all centring on the House of Lamentations, a brothel connected by an underground passage to the English Convent: a scarred runaway wife, horribly abused by her violent husband, a sinister Jesuit priest, the schemes of the indigent Royalists. In the midst is Seeker, disguised as a carpenter, beyond the notice of the Royalist elite as a common man, a mysterious Cromwellian officer estranged from his Royalist mother and, best of all, the return of Lady Anne Winter, Seeker’s most able adversary.

Now there are some flaws. It seems unlikely that Seeker could remain so unnoticed by Thomas Faithly, for example, and the resolution of the central intrigue is not hard to work out. But this is to nit-pick. I enjoyed this last novel in the sequence a lot. Indeed the absence of most of Seeker’s wider family for much of its length actually improved the story, as there was little need to work out who they all were, which I saw as a fault of the last novel. Despite being the last, it can be read as a standalone almost without reference to the others.
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My next review is as follows:-

"The House Of Lamentations (Damian Seeker 5)” written by S.G.MacLean and published in Hardback and Kindle by Quercus on 9h July 2020 496 pages ISBN-13: 978-1787473621

The book was one that once started was almost impossible to put down and I read it very quickly as it was a really atmospheric and brilliantly researched historical mystery.
This is the fifth book in the Damian Seeker series by S G MacLean. The author lives in Scotland and studied sixteenth and seventeenth century Scottish history at Aberdeen University. This book is set in the summer 1658 in Bruges, Belgium and London 
It is Summer, 1658, and the Republic may finally be safe: the combined Stuart and Spanish forces have been heavily defeated by the English and French armies on the coast of Flanders, and the King's cause appears finished.
Yet one final, desperate throw of the dice is planned. And who can stop them if not Captain Damian Seeker? As he is currently exiled to Bruges in Belgium and working as a carpenter he keeps an eye out for the Royalist supporters of the former king. This is brought alive by the author's knowledge of the period and of the town.
It is not necessary to read the books in order, but I think it would help; it took sometime before I was aware of some of the background. Seeker came across initially as being a typical soldier, very staid and dour. You soon realise however that he has led a very interesting life! 
This is a good series and I would recommend this well written book for its historical and character detail.
Extremely well recommended.  (Advance copy from the publisher in exchange for a fair review).
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I have really enjoyed the Seeker series by Shona MacLean and was devastated to learn that this is to be the final book in the series.

The House of Lamentations finds Seeker in Bruges, having escaped England after faking his death, he is now trying to uncover Royalist plots being hatched at the court of the exiled King Charles II. 

As usual with MacLean's writing the historical background and research are impeccable and really bring the ancient city of Bruges and its people to life. There is a different feel to this book, as Seeker is living incognito as a carpenter, so there is less of the tension which would accompany him as he strode about the streets of Protectorate England. There was perhaps a more wistful and thoughtful feel to this book, as the reign of Oliver Cromwell was coming to an end, and the other main characters of the series did not feature so much, appearing mostly through information received in letters. There is a feeling of an end of a era, as the Ellingsworths are preparing to leave for the New World, Seeker's daughter is preparing to marry and settle down. 

Overall I enjoyed the book, but if I had to pick a Seeker book to revisit it would probably be one of the earlier ones as I did find myself missing the drama (and the dog) of Seeker's English adventures.
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It is 1658, and Cromwell's regime is going too far in its cruelty in its gruesome executions of Royalists, the public sickened by the inhumanity. Documenting all the terrors and the excesses in his paper is Elias, the only one holding the regime to account. He has reached the end of his tether, he can take no more, and is planning to move his family to Boston, Massachusetts, including sister Maria, for a new life. Cromwell himself is ill, struggling with his close personal losses, it is the beginning of the end, as SG MacLean's superior historical series, featuring the charismatic Damian Seeker, draws to an end. An air of despondency afflicts the Royalists, all their secret societies and plots have come to nought, betrayed at every turn, and the Stuart and Spanish invasion has been defeated on the Flanders coast. Believed to be dead in England, Seeker has been undercover as an agent, John Carpenter, for the spymaster, Thurloe, in Bruges in Belgium.

Seeker has been uncovering Royalist traitors and plots among the Royalists in the city and based at Bouchoute House, including Thomas Faithly, keeping his ear close to the ground as is his ingrained habit, a necessity too, if he is discovered, death is a certainty. The royalists know they have been betrayed by one of their own, and a woman is coming to discover the culprit. Arriving with her maid at Engels Klooster, the English Convent, is the elderly royalist Lady Hildred Beaumont, determined to give her money to Charles. Bartlett Jones is searching for his sister, Ruth, a woman in hiding from her abusive husband, protected at The House of Lamentations, a place of ill repute. In a narrative where Bruges is brimful of intrigue, murders and deception, Seeker wonders what connects the convent and the House of Lamentations, finding himself making common cause with an old foe, determined to get to the truth and uncover more than one killer as danger comes ever closer, whilst chaos and turbulence begin to takeover in England.

It is with a sense of loss that I read the final episode in this brilliant series, I have loved this well written and atmospheric series, a blend of fact and fiction that immersed me so effectively in the 17th century and Cromwell's England. I enjoyed the change of location to Bruges, appreciating the architecture of the city, and buildings such as the grim prison, the Oude Steen. Many of you will be aware that Cromwell is going to die and name his son, Richard, as his successor in 1658. Where does this all leave Seeker and his loyalties to Cromwell? Clearly, if the King returns, Seeker's prospects are dire, he is too well known, so effective as one of Cromwell's enforcers. A superb ending to a fantastic award winning series. Highly recommended. Many thanks to Quercus for an ARC.
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This is the final chapter in this thrilling series. It would be worth checking out the previous books to connect with the main characters. This is a great historical mystery but is a series that mystery fans can get their teeth into as well. Our main character is Damian Seeker in the employ of spymaster Thurloe on behalf of Cromwell. Cromwell’s reign is unraveling and Royalists are in Bruges following Charles Stuart. Seeker is undercover dealing with a double agent. All is thrown in disarray when the Royalists send their own spy to uncover the traitor. When newly arrived Lady Beaumont is shot all the various factions come together and Seeker’s cover is in grave danger. You will enjoy this last chapter but still long to see Damian Seeker again.
I was given an arc of this book by Netgalley and the publisher in exchange for an honest review.
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Damian Seeker is back and after his fake death is living in Bruges, working as a carpenter whilst serving the interests of his spymaster Thurloe and Oliver Cromwell.  Bruges is the home of loyalists to Charles II but Seeker has a double agent in their midst.  An elderly lady stops briefly at a convent, her luggage full of money for the exiled king and a lady's maid who is not what she seems.

What follows with its twists and turns is an excellent follow up to the previous books but can be read as a standalone story.  And as it appears that, back in England, Seeker's love Maria may be about to leave for Massachusetts and Cromwell's health is fading, the race is on for him to solve the mysteris in Bruges so he can return home.
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An absolute joy. This book was everything, I wanted the final of this series to be: Tense, intelligent, entertaining. 
Such an absolutely fabulous series, with a hero who has faults and is not a "too good to be real" person, but feels always like someone that could have actually existed. And the foes in these books, well, you can understand their motives and their ambitions in a world where there was so much upheaval and uncertainty.
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