Cover Image: Plague


Pub Date:   |   Archive Date:

Member Reviews

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.
Was this review helpful?
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.
Was this review helpful?
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.
Was this review helpful?
Plague, by Julie Anderson, is so topical a book that it's hard to believe it wasn't planned in advance. It predicts the current political climate, with Boris Johnson and Dominic Cummings insisting there's one set of rules for them and another for us. This political thriller is also a murder mystery and an examination of the underground London, so it's a great combination of factors that seems to come straight from the front pages of today's newspapers. I'd highly recommend it to everyone, especially considering how we, the UK, are dealing with Covid-19.
Was this review helpful?
Wow, its like Time Teams meets ‘Quatermass and the Pitt’ with Morse investigating. What an amazing opening chapter. Julie Anderson crafts the narrative and edgy atmosphere to make you feel as if you are really there in the dark, cold bowels of London with the hairs prickling on your neck.

With such an absorbing start you might expect thing to tail off slightly however Plague doesn’t disappoint, drawing us into a world where most will never visit or be a part of.  While its true that some of the culture and daily operation of the Houses of Parliament are known about, having the detailed background of the House of Commons as a setting offers a fascinating backdrop to the story and gives the novel an additional dimension and that’s without the machinations of government. So is the plot pure fantasy or not? Perhaps 12 months ago we would have said yes, but now in the new world of Covid-19, perhaps not.

The characters are well drawn up and very believable. I’m not so sure if I always liked Cassandra. Yes at the start, not so much in the middle but by the end, more sympathy and understanding. She is an interesting character, smart and bright but flawed. I’m definitely hooked on her character and am keen on reading more to see how she develops. The question is why did I care so much? That’s because the author made her real, making me want to invest in her and is is a testimony to Julie Anderson’s writing. 

But where the author’s skill really come to the fore is the plot and pace of the action scenes. Shady government, government by clique and influenced by faceless businessmen and pressure groups. Sounds like a 1950’s British Government or possible the current Johnson administration? The plot pulls you in and the pace depicted by the daily chapters only enhance this. An the final chase sequence it truly gripping and absorbing. 

This is a book of its time and is hugely relevant. As well as being an excellent thriller it asks fundamental questions about how we are governed and the morals of those leading the country.

Like any great thriller there are a couple of unanswered questions. What is Cassandra carrying with her from the past and just who is the man reading the Racing Post on the 89 bus?

Final thought..... I very much liked Cassandra’s cat Spiggott...... he’s the best!
Was this review helpful?
The body of a young man is found at the site of a newly discovered plague pit. Cassandra Fortune is part of the group visiting the site when the body is found. The next day, another body is found killed in a similar manner with Cassie's work pass tucked in his pocket.
Cassie is a civil servant working in the Deputy Prime Ministers office. Because of her connection to the case and because of her past (she spent 11 years working at Government Communications Headquarters) she is tasked by the Deputy Prime Minister to shadow the police investigating. I had never heard of GCHQ and had to look it up. It's an intelligence agency continuing the work of the Bletchley Park team. Cool. For some reason not given in this book, Cassie had to leave her job and is unsatisfied in her current position. 
I liked the structure of this book. Each chapter was a different day of the week, The story takes place over the course of a little over a week. 
Cassie was an interesting character. She made decisions that drove me crazy sometimes, but overall I enjoyed the development of her character throughout the book. 
This was a fast-paced book full of police procedure, politics, wealth, and power.
Was this review helpful?
The Plague was absolutely enthralling, a maze of intrigue as the story and London’s subterranean labyrinths unfold - thought provoking and genius! Thank you Julie Anderson
Was this review helpful?
A great, page-turning read filled with intrigue and mystery. I was hooked from the start and really felt as though I was on the journey with Cassandra and Andrew, throughout the narrative, helping them to carry out their investigation within the very heart of London.With elements of history, politics and even romance thrown in, I couldn’t put it down once I started.
Was this review helpful?
Plague is about a defamed British government official, Cassandra Fortune, who is eager to climb the ladder to get her career back on track and amend her reputation. While she is investigating the discovery of a plague pit, a body is found. Cassandra gets assigned to a case with a fellow cop, Andrew Rowlands, to work together to uncover who has been conducting these murders. Cassandra gets swept into a wild and dangerous escapade through a crime-ridden, powerful, underworld of England’s wealthiest. 

Upon beginning this book, it was difficult to relate to the characters due to a slow character development. However, as events began to unfold, I found myself rooting for the characters and wondering where they would be going next. Julie Anderson did a really great job creating events within the story that kept it constantly flowing, which made this a very easy and enjoyable read. 

Towards the end of the book, the mystery/crime novel started to take a turn towards a romantic feature. While I typically enjoy a little romance in my books, I found that this romantic aspect was not necessary. The story captivated me enough, whereas once the romance began to unfold, I felt that it was a bit forced and out of left field. Nevertheless, it did enhance my attention and shock in the ending’s twist. There were a couple twists at the end of this novel but there was one twist I absolutely did not see coming and left me shocked. 

Overall, I thought that Plague was a unique, captivating and great read that left me shocked and wanting more. Anderson wrote in such a simplistic and enjoyable rhythm that I was able to breeze right through this book. Luckily, I read the afterword to find out that Julie Anderson is planning on making this a series where Cassie comes back and continues to solve dangerous cases, picking up where she left off in the first novel. I am very excited to see where this series goes.
Was this review helpful?
England, murder, murder-investigation, not-quite-horror, law-enforcement, under-ground, abuse, historical-research, historical-setting, procedural, London

If torture and rape abuse of either sex is your trigger, avoid this book. But if it isn't, the noted items are not given in detail but are important parts of the murders and therefore the investigations. On the other hand, the archaeological details of the underground rivers, tunnels, and ruins is well researched and fascinating (OK, so I'm an archaeology geek). As far as the police procedural aspect, I did get lost in the politics and jurisdictions of a system that may not be so different from Washington DC (beats me, I am Midwest USA) but the labels are different from what I know. It is kind of noir and is well written, especially the due diligence (which is always slow). The publisher's blurb is pretty good, but this is not about a contagion scenario, instead it a plague of evil people. I found it to be a good read.
I requested and received a free ebook copy from Claret Press via NetGalley. Thank you!
Was this review helpful?
A story that kept me riveted.  "Plague Pits" have begun to be found, again. This, the first time in 30 years. Link with a (more than possible) deranged serial killer and you get an interesting, different type of read.

Cassandra, who had once been high on the ladder at the Palace, and DI Andrew Rowland are paired up tp investigate the deaths of young people found in the London underground. A fascinating story !

Hooked from the start - I highly recommend this different type of read...

Many Thanks to Claret Press and NetGalley for a superb book!
Was this review helpful?
Julie Anderson must have some crystal ball because "Plague" is incredibly predictive. She writes about people protesting the lack of government transparency, about the plague, the refusal to believe the science and the manipulation of the media by the wealthy and powerful for their own ends.
Quite convincing as we see from the output of the media today.

I also quite like the setting of the story, an insiders guide to Westminster not many people know about.
Underground rivers, sewers and Roman remains are also cool.

Above all, it is a great murder mystery.
Was this review helpful?
Fabulous book. The characters came alive in my head and I just couldn’t put it down. A book that deals with power and the greed that fuels those that will do anything to gain more and more without any thought of others. Are people outside the law??  Well some may believe they are for the greater good. Highly recommended
Was this review helpful?
Cassandra Fortune, British government civil servant, suddenly finds herself caught up in an investigation into recent murders in London. The murders have Scotland Yard baffled. The unearthing of an old plague pit used to bury mass quantities of plague victims hundreds of years ago leads to the discovery of yet another murder victim. As Cassie works with investigator Andrew Rowlands to unravel the mystery, suspicion of a sinister plot unfolds. The investigation leads into the deepest, most ancient parts of the Palace of Westminster, into the bowels of London's underground lost river system, and reaches into the hallowed Houses of Parliament. With their lives at stake, will Cassie and Andrew be able to bring the dark secrets to light before more victims are claimed?

This riveting mystery provides an intriguing inside glimpse into the history and tradition of the British political system as well as a fascinating exploration of the hidden passages underneath London's city streets. Written by a former British civil servant, this book will appeal to Anglophiles and mystery lovers. It would be an excellent addition to any library's mystery collection.
Was this review helpful?
I had high hope for Plague by Julie Anderson, but unfortunately for me it fell short.  I could not connect with any if the characters,  whom I felt were a bit one dimensional.  The story was extremely slow moving, with little to nothing exciting about it. Several times I wanted to just stop reading, it was that boring to me. Oh well, on to the next read.

Thank you Netgallery for the free digital ARC in exchange for an honest and voluntary review.  All opinions are my own.
Was this review helpful?
I want to thank NetGalley, Claret Press, and author Julie Anderson for providing me with an ARC of this novel!

What perfect timing for this novel in these times of COVID-19. Written as a murder mystery, I was completely drawn in and captivated. You won’t be able to come to a conclusion until you finish this, which is spectacular. I loved the bit of politics sprinkled in, and the characters were developed and so interesting. I particularly enjoyed the female investigator in the story. Gorgeously written, you won't be able to put it down once you pick it up.

Thank you to those named above for the chance to read and review this novel!
Was this review helpful?
Great insight into how the real world works.

I really liked this story. It had a lot of information about how Westminster operates behind the scene which I've never seen anywhere else. It's like secret info. But it also doesn't read like a textbook. It's a murder mystery which pulls in politicians and actually just about everyone else. You can't figure it all out until the end. So in that way, it's a great little mystery.

It makes clear how the elite are all interconnected in an overlapping socio-political financial strata that becomes self reinforcing in its goals. A kind of loose network so that even people who are genuinely nice get tainted by association. But it's not a lecture. It's just a great page-turning read.
Was this review helpful?
This was a really fun mystery, it kept me guessing right to the end. The characters were complex and well realised. The setting felt very true to life. It was a good time!
Was this review helpful?
A peculiarly prescient, politically astute, at times creepy and thoroughly absorbing psychological murder mystery. The timing is spot-on and the narrative compelling.
Was this review helpful?