Cover Image: Plague

Plague

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Member Reviews

This is the first in a planned trio of novels featuring Cassandra, or Cassie, Fortune, an ex-GCHQ spook who has now been demoted to a procurement position within the Civil Service. It still rankles with her despite being based within the Palace of Westminster but her life is about to change. Could this put her back to where she belongs?
Plague begins with DI Andrew Rowlands attending a pauper’s funeral of an unknown Danish boy. He was the latest of 7 young and vulnerable victims who were raped and tortured to death and Andrew is determined to find his killer.
Meanwhile Cassie is 200 ft below South Molton Street as construction work on Crossrail has been halted. An ancient burial chamber has been discovered which may be over 500 years old. However  when one of its walls collapses a far more recent body is found. The killer has struck again and it’s now a crime scene. Cassie is given 7 days to gather information and be part of the investigation. She has received her orders from a future Prime Minister.  She is thrilled to be back in the thick of it and to have regained access to power.  But she notices a Polish tattoo on the victim. It’s a kotwila, an anchor – someone must be able to identify him.
Another young man is found dead and Cassie recognises him as a workman at the Palace – but why is her access pass in his jacket pocket? And it’s she who makes the connection of the bodies being found in former plague pits around London. Someone has a good knowledge of the layers of history beneath London’s streets and where to hide the evidence of his ‘entertainments’.  Someone who is prepared to whip up public hysteria about the bubonic plague apparently coming back to life.  But the killer’s becoming careless and leaves an important clue when another victim is found alive. Are they becoming careless?  
I wasn’t surprised to learn that the author was a senior Civil Servant as she really knew how to make her reader feel part of that world. The movers and shakers, the climbers and backstabbers, the dodgy deals; all of them determined to climb the greasy pole to the top. Cassie knows this world so much and wants to become part of it again despite being dismissed as a ‘tame spook.’  The author has also really done her research into the Palace of Westminster and the ancient parts of hidden London.   It’s almost a character in itself.   
Plague is a fast paced thriller that would make a great holiday read. It had several twists and turns that built towards the climax of a thrilling chase through Churchill’s War Rooms.  There’s a genuine love of London and its secrets. I liked the idea that Cassie saw the investigation as a tapestry as she wove, undid and rewove some of the strands and was confident of finding the central design.   Recommended.
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Plague
I quite enjoyed this book . The accounts of the different underground structures and waterways were very interesting as was the scenario for the novel. The pace of the storyline was good . I felt the ending was set up for further stories about this protagonist .
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A murder mystery that involves sewers and Parliament, some might say they are natural bedfellows! 
Set in modern day London, a spate of murders that are termed ‘ neglected killings’, involving sexual abuse and torture, make the headlines when a mutilated body is found at a construction site, that used to be a Plague pit.
Cassie Fortune is a Governmental civil servant that deals with transport matters, and she is called in to help, due to previous GCHQ experience. It soon becomes apparent that the murders are linked to MP’s due to the ease of access to the sewer networks, that run close to Parliament, which is where some bodies have been found. Cassie and DI Andrew Rowlands are put on the case . We get a fascinating history of the Victorian sewer systems, recently discovered plague pits, hidden buildings in the bowels of Westminster, the security and history of Parliamentary Gatekeepers and the antiquated rules that help to run such a law making and breaking system. We also find a group of deviant MP’s, but that is ancient history!! 
This is a very topical read. The general distrust of Parliament, fears of the spread of a virus, demonstrations against the Police, and the threat to civil liberties, where have we heard that recently?!!
The only sour note in this whole enjoyable read, was the killing of a genuinely’ nice’ character. It was such a shame, and shows great courage so soon in a new series of books. I hope this death was not squandered just for effect. 
Books two and three, look to be interesting, perhaps like call of duty, a new fresh lead will be introduced, before being revealed to be a bad egg. 
I loved this book, the history and research was spot on. Good modern touches, not too outlandish names and a believable plot, can’t wait for the next ones! A five star read. I will leave reviews on Goodreads and Amazon later.
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Exciting and enjoyable and an easy read but found it a bit silly at times. Not sure a thriller with sex is for me
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I had very high expectations for this novel. The premise had murder, scandal and all set within Westminster and Houses of Parliament, what could possibly go wrong. Everything apparently. The novel is called plague, but that is not the story there are mentions of plague from past to present but it’s not the main focus and that title is really misleading so I am sorry I didn’t like that and that needs to change. Also the characters feel incredibly unfinished and not great. I really don’t like the main character and the whole plot is weak and just a bit unbelievable. Also really do we have to go down the appalling fifty shades route. I am sorry but this is a disappointment.
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"Plague" is a fast paced thriller starting in the murky and forgotten world of London's plague pits, ancient sewers and lost rivers that flow beneath the Palace of Westminster.. It soon shifts to the corridors of power in the buildings above which seethe with similar corruption and intrigue.

Great stuff!  The characters are alive and engaging. The heroine is obsessional and flawed but I genuinely cared what happened to her, which can be rare in a book. The villain is wonderful and the plot twists just keep on coming! 

Altogether this is a splendid book and hard to put down.. Extremely entertaining from start to finish plus it gives considerable insight into the workings of government.
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I didn't really gel with this book very well. Not because it was badly written but because I went into it expecting something different. I was expecting a kind of pandemic thriller or a weaponised disease suspense thriller. However this book was more of a mystery focused on a stream of murders and there wasn't really much to do with the plague aspect in the book. 
The setting of this book was good though, the author portays the London underbelly well in the book. 
Overall a good book but perhaps not what I was expecting
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In Plague, by Julie Anderson, ancient plague sites around London become the scenes of disturbing modern crimes. The story is much gorier than I usually like, but I was fascinated by the locations. New London on top of old London, with the ancient rivers and buildings still accessible if you know where to look.
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This book has many unique qualities. Inasmuch as it is a fast-paced-thriller, and what a ride it is, it has beautiful prose that give it a lovely poetic rhythm at times. The characters, the settings were very well presented, as a reader I heard them, saw what they saw, enjoyed and feared as they did. I cannot wait to see what else Cassandra Fortune uncovers in the next book, she is amazing and yet flawed enough to feel real.
I liked how using third person all the way the author seamlessly changed the points of view when needed. I love London and this book gave me layers of places I had never realized existed, it is very clear that the book is well researched and that the author writes from a place of knowledge. 
From beginning to end a fabulous read.
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I was looking for a political thriller with a strong female lead. But Cassandra Fortune, the heroine of this novel, sadly does not fit that bill. Rather than focusing on reviving her tarnished career (her stated goal), she seems more interested in finding a man. Worse yet, she seems determined to look in all the wrong places for said man. Candidate one is a wealthy embezzler and psychopathic murderer. Candidate two is the Detective Inspector with whom she is working to solve a series of murders. Neither choice is particularly smart for a woman interested in a career in the upper echelons of political power! After all, falling for a psychopathic killer does not speak well of one's detective skills nor does pining over a colleague speak well of one's professionalism. At times, I could have sworn this woman had never heard of the feminist movement despite allegedly having once held a powerful position in British intelligence. To my horror, Cassandra Fortune alternately sounded like a lovesick teenager and a "Stand by Your Man" Tammy Wynette kind of girl. The only good news, if you can call it that, is that the male characters were just as lame.
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A captivating read in this time of Covid-19! A page-turning murder mystery with the added interest of an insight into the inner workings of Westminister and the corridors of power. The way the characters are developed make them very believable and interesting. The book is very topical, which  made it even more enjoyable as a lockdown read. It is particularly relevant from the perspective  of the rejection of science and the role of media manipulation by the rich and powerful.  Well-written and  can only recommend it.
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WOAH! This hit a little close to home with everything that is going on in 2020 but it is still an important read and I think this will be a hit! There are very few books about a plague hitting during modern times, you either read about a plague in the past or the future, but reading this book you got a feel for the times around you and you could relate to the panic and the emotions of the characters. That being said I don’t think this book will be outdated anytime soon and many generations will be able to connection to this book. A few times I had to put the book down and take a deep breath because I had to remind myself that the book was fiction and that even though it drew parallels to what was going on today it was happening somewhere else and to people that didn’t exist. I read the book in one sitting and right after I finished I made sure to tell friends that like thrillers plus plague books that this should be their next read when it comes out. I am complete blown away by the talent of the author.
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At first I was really excited to be receiving this as an ARC from NetGalley, because I thought it would be slightly horror related/government using disease in an experiment that got leaked, etc. Instead, it was a rather tame mystery. I love thriller, horror, and mystery books, so I have read a lot and this one just couldn't stick for me. I do think the character development and the characters in general were a strong point in this book, but it just didn't keep my attention as much as I wanted it too. Also, I am an American so I didn't grow up with learning about UK politics, but have learned about it while abroad. I think a big part of it for me was not being able to understand the language in describing the government functions and characters, because their relevance didn't necessary jump out at me. I overall think the synopsis for this book can be a little misleading, since I was thought to believe these people died from a new disease/that there would be an aspect of horror or gore. It was a very tame mystery.
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Sometimes all you need is a good thriller, a story with engaging characters, a touch of romance and a plot that grips you right the way to the end. Plague has all of these things in abundance and yet manages to sneak in an astute, and just as compelling, exploration of political power that has turned out to be remarkably prescient. 

Anderson takes as her setting the Palace of Westminster but it’s not just a backdrop to a good murder mystery. Whether from personal experience or meticulous research, she provides a fascinating look into the backdoor and basement workings of power in the UK. It’s political intrigue, but where the politics is more than serious people in suits walking around central London - it’s parliamentary procedure, government real estate contracts and press manipulation.  The politics is the mystery. And if this sounds a little boring, it’s the exact opposite! Anderson’s achievement, and what I enjoyed the most about this novel, is how these details give the more familiar aspect of her thriller so much weight and momentum. 

Sometimes all you need is a good thriller, but perhaps a truly good thriller is secretly lots of other things as well.
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I wanted to like this book, but it wore on me. While the climax was suspenseful, it accounted for less than 10% of the story line and IMHO was quickly tainted by our shallow and self-absorbed main character's return to 'normalcy'.  Beyond my distaste for the main character and superficial portrayal of relationships, I did not find the story itself to be very engaging - it seemed a disproportionate amount of time was devoted to detailing the history and structures of the underground rivers and water system beneath London and establishing the "who's who" among political leadership, without much payoff.  The underlying murder mystery itself was good, but I found myself losing interest because of the writing style.
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Thriller set around the Houses of Parliament


A political thriller set in central London where a series of murders causes concern to those at the highest levels of government.

Cassie is a bored civil servant, having been demoted from an exciting job at GCHQ (Government Communications Headquarters).  She finds herself slightly involved in two murders, and then given the chance to help find the perpetrators and save her career.  Cassie’s role is to see if the murders give any risk of embarrassment to the Prime Minister or his successor, and this leads her to working closely with DI Andrew Rowlands, and a growing attraction between them.    

Occasionally the narrative changes to that of the perpetrator, which adds to the suspense, and guesswork of who it might be.  

There are plenty of central London sites visited during the course of the action, and if you live there (or visit) the locations referred to will get you looking at doorways and London sites with renewed interest.  There is also plenty of interesting information about the internal processes at the Palace of Westminster, together with glimpses into the underground river systems and structures that most visitors never get to see.  

Due to personal stuff going on, I stopped reading this book in the middle,  for about a week, and then read the rest in a rather disjointed manner.  I was pleased to find that I could easily pick up the story from where I left off, and had no need to flick back at any stage.  The events flow well, and I particularly enjoyed the character of Cassie, though there are many strong and interesting characters in this book.

The Author’s Note at the end of this book says that there are two more novels to follow in this series – however this this book’s ending tidies everything up well.  

5*s from me for this thriller that includes well researched London history and places, together with a great tour around the lesser known areas of the Houses of Parliament.  All this as well as a great storyline.
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Julie Anderson has created a magnificent character in Cassandra Fortune. Cassie’s an intelligent, canny, ambitious civil servant cat lover with flaws. You see the plot of this fast-paced thriller through her eyes, meeting all too believable characters from London’s political and government hierarchies and the people that keep its murky and sordid world turning. You are taken on an intriguing journey through the bowels of London’s underground history and the parallel depths of its system of government. Power, money and its lure are centre stage in a novel that has clearly been informed by Julie Anderson’s senior civil service experience. You care what happens to Carrie, probably not as a friend, but as an insightful and sure-footed guide to the hidden depths of corruption, intrigue and the threat of plague. A real page turner and I can’t wait for the follow up.

Helen Hughes, ex senior civil and crown servant.
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Plague is the sort of read you sit down to on a sunny quarantine weekend and finish days (or maybe hours!) later realising it was quite a bit more than the smooth summer thriller you were expecting. The forte of this infectious novel is surely the vivid geographical and political locales it inhabits. Powerful characterisation and snappy writing shine amid the backdrop of an all-too-recognisably slimy City of London as Anderson’s mystery invites you behind the closed doors of Whitehall and the Palace of Westminster chasing threads of power in an ever-tightening web. My thorough enjoyment can best be summed up by saying most of all I look forward to the further novels in this exciting trilogy.
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Plague, by Julie Anderson, makes an enthralling start to a projected trilogy featuring Cassandra Fortune, a truly gifted and determined investigator. Intriguing and multi-layered, the plot is extremely topical and a refreshing distance from the mainstream of crime thrillers. Questions of identity feature from the start. Who were the murder victims? Why have security ID passes been stolen? The life and past career of Cassandra herself is another mystery which begins to unfold in parallel with the homicide enquiries into which she is – almost literally – thrown.

   The crime scenes are all located in Central London, in or near historical plague pits. The press immediately, and unhelpfully, focus on using the unsolved deaths to create a plague-panic. A surfeit of exaggerated headlines and ‘fake news’ ensures that ‘Hashtag Plague’ is soon trending on Twitter. 

   The plot develops at pace and Cassandra’s investigation is immediately challenged by a time constraint: she will have just seven days to resolve any high-level political consequences attached to the harrowing discoveries. Whitehall, New Scotland Yard and the Houses of Parliament are the locus but Cassie is keenly aware that “power, like the plague, was a contagion.” 

   The links between money and power are central to Anderson’s story. Chances to make vast fortunes from sales of public assets are in the offing. Politicians, hedge-funds and all manner of speculators are manoeuvring for advantage. The opportunities for corruption are huge. 

   The lamentable state of disrepair afflicting the structure and services of the neoGothic pile that is the Palace of Westminster symbolise the mundane corruption of politics. With the clock-tower of Big Ben wrapped in scaffolding and green netting, Cassandra’s task is to unveil what else enmeshes the Palace and those within it. Unseen beneath the surface – down in the sewers – runs the ‘lost’ River Tyburn which offers evidence of putrefaction on a whole other level.

   Cassie likens her investigation to a tapestry, wherein she must follow many different 
threads if she is to discover the pattern and unveil the greater design. Her life and her career are in peril. Moreover, if she fails, the entire political system will be reduced to a hollow sham, with only a its façade left in place. The stakes could not be higher.
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Thank you to NetGalley for an ARC of Plague.

I was excited when my request was approved because I thought it was going to be a horror-like mystery about a biological weapon.

Instead, it was about a young woman named Cassie Fortune, eager to regain her previous powerful position in the British government, is order to investigate a series of brutal murders by a superior. 

Forced to work alongside an honest and hardworking detective, Cassie discovers a criminal cabal catering to the privileged, powerful and elite.

I wanted to enjoy this more and though it was interesting to learn about how UK government and politics operate, I found the narrative dry.

It was difficult to be interested in a plot similar to real life; the rich and powerful, the politically connected and affluent using their influence to take advantage of marginalized people to satisfy their perversions and to become more powerful, greedier and maintain their status quo as terrible people.

I also didn't like Cassie; she was ambitious and after a fall from grace is desperate to get back into the political game but she behaves like a silly, little girl when a handsome and powerful man pays attention to her.

The romance subplot was unnecessary and contrived; I had no idea why Cassie and the detective connected. As colleagues I could understand, as lovers, I didn't believe it.

There was a twist I didn't see coming and the writing wasn't bad so some readers might enjoy this more than I did.
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