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And By Fire

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Tempered by fire and separated by centuries, two extraordinary female detectives track a pair of murderous geniuses who will burn the world for their art in this mystery perfect for fans of Sarah Penner and Dan Brown. Nigella Parker, Detective Inspector with the City Police, has a deeply rooted fear of fire and a talent for solving deadly arson cases. When a charred figure Tempered by fire and separated by centuries, two extraordinary female detectives track a pair of murderous geniuses who will burn the world for their art in this mystery perfect for fans of Sarah Penner and Dan Brown. Nigella Parker, Detective Inspector with the City Police, has a deeply rooted fear of fire and a talent for solving deadly arson cases. When a charred figure is found curled beside Sir Christopher Wren’s Monument to the Great Fire of London, Nigella is dragged into a case pitting her against a murderous artist creating sculptures using burnt flesh. Nigella partners with Colm O’Leary of Scotland Yard to track the arsonist across greater London. The pair are more than colleagues—they were lovers until O’Leary made the mistake of uttering three little words. Their past isn’t the only buried history as they race to connect the dots between an antique nail pulled from a dead man’s hands and a long-forgotten architect dwarfed by the life’s work of Sir Christopher Wren. Wren, one of London’s most famous architects, is everywhere the pair turn. Digging into his legacy leads the DCIs into the coldest of cold cases: a search for a bookseller gone missing during the Great Fire of London. More than 350 years earlier, while looking for their friend, a second pair of detectives—a lady-in-waiting to the Queen and a royal fireworks maker—discovered foul play in the supposedly accidental destruction of St. Paul’s Cathedral…but did that same devilry lead to murder? And can these centuries-old crimes help catch a modern-day murderer? As Nigella and O’Leary rush to decode clues, past and present, London’s killer-artist sets his sights on a member of the investigative team as the subject of his next fiery masterpiece.


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Tempered by fire and separated by centuries, two extraordinary female detectives track a pair of murderous geniuses who will burn the world for their art in this mystery perfect for fans of Sarah Penner and Dan Brown. Nigella Parker, Detective Inspector with the City Police, has a deeply rooted fear of fire and a talent for solving deadly arson cases. When a charred figure Tempered by fire and separated by centuries, two extraordinary female detectives track a pair of murderous geniuses who will burn the world for their art in this mystery perfect for fans of Sarah Penner and Dan Brown. Nigella Parker, Detective Inspector with the City Police, has a deeply rooted fear of fire and a talent for solving deadly arson cases. When a charred figure is found curled beside Sir Christopher Wren’s Monument to the Great Fire of London, Nigella is dragged into a case pitting her against a murderous artist creating sculptures using burnt flesh. Nigella partners with Colm O’Leary of Scotland Yard to track the arsonist across greater London. The pair are more than colleagues—they were lovers until O’Leary made the mistake of uttering three little words. Their past isn’t the only buried history as they race to connect the dots between an antique nail pulled from a dead man’s hands and a long-forgotten architect dwarfed by the life’s work of Sir Christopher Wren. Wren, one of London’s most famous architects, is everywhere the pair turn. Digging into his legacy leads the DCIs into the coldest of cold cases: a search for a bookseller gone missing during the Great Fire of London. More than 350 years earlier, while looking for their friend, a second pair of detectives—a lady-in-waiting to the Queen and a royal fireworks maker—discovered foul play in the supposedly accidental destruction of St. Paul’s Cathedral…but did that same devilry lead to murder? And can these centuries-old crimes help catch a modern-day murderer? As Nigella and O’Leary rush to decode clues, past and present, London’s killer-artist sets his sights on a member of the investigative team as the subject of his next fiery masterpiece.

30 review for And By Fire

  1. 5 out of 5

    Ellen Wiseman

    You’ll smell the smoke, taste the ashes, and feel the tension as you race through this exquisitely researched crime thriller. The plot twists and unforgettable images evoked will linger long after you turn the last page! A great book for historical fiction buffs and mystery lovers alike!

  2. 4 out of 5

    theliterateleprechaun

    Unfortunately, this book wasn’t for me. I was drawn to the great cover, the synopsis (I love a good crime mystery) and I’m always interested in learning about the history of London, The Great Fire, the architectural wonders, and 17th century England, in particular. Although I hadn’t read anything by Sophie Perinot before, her standing as an established historical novelist gave me reason to request this book for preview. While the first chapter had me smiling at the banter between DI Nigella Park Unfortunately, this book wasn’t for me. I was drawn to the great cover, the synopsis (I love a good crime mystery) and I’m always interested in learning about the history of London, The Great Fire, the architectural wonders, and 17th century England, in particular. Although I hadn’t read anything by Sophie Perinot before, her standing as an established historical novelist gave me reason to request this book for preview. While the first chapter had me smiling at the banter between DI Nigella Parker with the City Police and her partner, Colm O’Leary of Scotland Yard, I soon got tired of the quickie hookups with James and Nigella’s biting personality. What I felt would make this more enjoyable for me was more character development. I kept reading for O’Leary’s name, context clues as to their ages and hints about their prior relationship, it came too late. I also didn’t feel that the illicit sex added anything to the plot, in fact, it detracted from it, in my opinion. The police procedural interested me because my mind was engaged in following the witnesses and suspects. It was also good to follow the sharing of case file information between colleagues. The balance between the mystery and the gruesome crimes was good. If the 1666 timeline had kept my interest, I may have trudged through it, but I found myself skipping most of this timeline because I couldn’t feel any pull towards it, neither in terms of characters nor compelling events. Although there were parts of this timeline that were in authentic voice (how people would have spoken back then), it fluctuated, was confusing and featured another romantic relationship that didn’t interest me. As an avid historical fiction reader, I felt let down by what I figured would be the most interesting of the two timelines. Please do not allow my reading preferences nor my opinion to sway your decision. It seems as though there are many similar reviews to mine, giving me some sense of validation, but there are also some 5-star reviews, some of them glowing. I must admit to wondering if I’d missed something or if I’d read the same book. It made me uncomfortable enough to leave this review aside for weeks before I posted it. Isn’t it wonderful that we are all so unique in our tastes? How boring it would be if we all liked the same genre and writing style. I encourage you to read for yourself and make an informed decision. I was gifted this advance copy by Evie Hawtrey, Crooked Lane Books, and NetGalley and was under no obligation to provide a review.

  3. 4 out of 5

    Karine

    A murder mystery written in a dual timeline, one part during the period just before the Great Fire of London in 1666, and another timeline in the present day. That piqued my interest and I was ready to go for a good time. Alas, after a few chapters it became apparent that the chapters that were written about the 17th century were very confusing and complicated and were very heavy on the romance between Etienne and Margaret, something I wasn't interested in. Therefor, I started to skip those chapt A murder mystery written in a dual timeline, one part during the period just before the Great Fire of London in 1666, and another timeline in the present day. That piqued my interest and I was ready to go for a good time. Alas, after a few chapters it became apparent that the chapters that were written about the 17th century were very confusing and complicated and were very heavy on the romance between Etienne and Margaret, something I wasn't interested in. Therefor, I started to skip those chapters and I read only the current day ones. That was perfectly doable, one more reason to conclude that that dual timeline was superfluous. But there, again a lot of romance between a very annoying DI Nigella Parker, her toyboy James, and her counterpart of Scotland Yard. The character of Nigella was off-putting: she is selfish, annoying and condescending. In her dialogues she is always trying to be funny, but she is not. I'm sure there a lot of readers who will enjoy this story, but unfortunately it wasn't a good read for me.

  4. 5 out of 5

    Literary Redhead

    AND BY FIRE BY EVIE HAWTREY Interview/Review What fun it was to interview Evie Hawtrey on her crime fiction/mystery debut, AND BY FIRE, out May 10. NEW DIRECTION Already the famed histfic writer known as Sophie Perinot, she decided to take a new turn after hearing an NPR story on The Great Fire of London in 1666. VOICES Sophie began to hear clear voices in her imagination of the characters who would inhabit AND BY FIRE. So insistent, they led her to a new genre and nom de plume. "I created Evie becau AND BY FIRE BY EVIE HAWTREY Interview/Review What fun it was to interview Evie Hawtrey on her crime fiction/mystery debut, AND BY FIRE, out May 10. NEW DIRECTION Already the famed histfic writer known as Sophie Perinot, she decided to take a new turn after hearing an NPR story on The Great Fire of London in 1666. VOICES Sophie began to hear clear voices in her imagination of the characters who would inhabit AND BY FIRE. So insistent, they led her to a new genre and nom de plume. "I created Evie because I felt one crazy person wasn't enough," she laughs. FIERCE The author is anything but crazy as she exudes fierce intelligence and vision. A former litigator, she's done big transitions before, leaving law to pen four fine histfic books. AKIN But there is something about her new novel's protagonist, Nigella Parker, Detective Inspector, London City Police, to which she resonates. "The story has a very British flavor, and while I studied French abroad, I've also spent a lot of time in England," she explains. "In fact, my husband and I have talked about living part-time in the York area." SYNOPSIS Nigella, an arson expert with a fear of fire in present day London, teams up with former lover Colm O'Leary of Scotland Yard. They investigate the case of a sculpture made of burning flesh found beside Christopher Wren's Monument to the Great Fire. Inside the corpse's seared hand is an antique nail that leads the pair back to the 17th century event. A bookseller went missing then, and when a lady-in-waiting to the Queen and a royal fireworks maker try to find him, they uncover foul play behind the ruin through fire of St. Paul’s Cathedral. A thrilling connection ties the two centuries together. MY THOUGHTS I loved AND BY FIRE, with its gripping narrative, flawed but good characters, and its suggestion of who actually caused the Great Fire. Highly recommended for crime fiction, mystery, and histfic fans, as well as lovers of electric tales. Grateful to Evie for the fab interview, and Crooked Lane Books and NetGalley for the ARC; opinions are mine. #AndByFire #EvieHawtrey #crookedlanebooks #NetGalley #crimefictionnovel #mysterynovel #sophieperinot #changinggenres

  5. 4 out of 5

    Lata

    This tense and compelling mystery, told in two different timelines, had me reading anxiously as two police detectives attempt to solve linked arson cases and the brutal murders of people in London. Detective Inspector Nigella Parker and Scotland Yard Inspector Colm O’Leary work frantically together to find and analyze clues, hoping to prevent further murders. Their interactions are complicated by their prior sexual relationship, which Nigella broke off as soon as O’Leary showed her he felt deeply This tense and compelling mystery, told in two different timelines, had me reading anxiously as two police detectives attempt to solve linked arson cases and the brutal murders of people in London. Detective Inspector Nigella Parker and Scotland Yard Inspector Colm O’Leary work frantically together to find and analyze clues, hoping to prevent further murders. Their interactions are complicated by their prior sexual relationship, which Nigella broke off as soon as O’Leary showed her he felt deeply for her. Parker prefers to keep her personal relationships transactional, and is a little stressed about hers and O’Leary’s friction during the case. The case is interesting, and dredges up London’s past, specifically its massive fire in 1666, and the commissions to rebuild. The current day’s arsonist seems to be pointing at this information in the locations of his fires, and who he’s murdering. Despite the grim murders, I enjoyed this mystery, and liked the amateur detective work performed by two individuals in 1666, whose efforts are actually tied to the present-day case. Parker is a little prickly, but it’s understandable, considering she has had to work hard amongst men who would likely have given her a hard time over the years. I don’t know if this is a one-off or not, but I hope there are more Parker-O’Leary investigations to come. Thank you to Netgalley and to Crooked Lane Books for this ARC in exchange for my review.

  6. 5 out of 5

    Kevvie

    I received an advanced reader copy of And By Fire by Evie Hawtrey in exchange for an honest review. And By Fire is my first time reading Hawtrey. It is her first novel under this name, however she has written other historical fiction under the name Sophie Perinot. And By Fire is historical fiction meets detective thriller. It has two timelines; the first follows Detective Inspector Nigella Parker as she tries to find a serial arsonist turned killer, the second follows the romance of Margaret Dove I received an advanced reader copy of And By Fire by Evie Hawtrey in exchange for an honest review. And By Fire is my first time reading Hawtrey. It is her first novel under this name, however she has written other historical fiction under the name Sophie Perinot. And By Fire is historical fiction meets detective thriller. It has two timelines; the first follows Detective Inspector Nigella Parker as she tries to find a serial arsonist turned killer, the second follows the romance of Margaret Dove when she and her beloved uncover a mystery surrounding the Great Fire of London in 1666. This book was excellent. I particularly loved the historical timeline. Margaret and Etienne are star-crossed lovers, and their relationship is really sweet. I loved watching their characters develop. In the beginning, Etienne asks if Margaret is a “woman of science,” to which Margaret responds “there are no women of science,” because women were not permitted in scientific practice or discussion. Etienne however encourages her love of science and together they use their scientific knowledge to investigate a crime committed while the city was ablaze. The modern-day timeline was very good as well. DI Parker and her ex-lover from Scotland Yard O’Leary are teaming up to track down an “artist” whose medium is wood, human flesh, and fire. Parker also has a new man, an artist whose work she has never seen. As the case progresses she has to come to terms with the possibility that she may be dating a monster. Of the two timelines, I preferred the historical one, but they were both strong and entertaining. There isn’t a whole lot of mystery to this thriller. Yes, they’re concerned with whodunnit, but the greater concern of the novel is how will they catch him. The biggest surprise for me, however, was the way the timelines intersected. The book’s description implied that there was a connection between the two narratives, but I couldn’t fathom how they were related until it happened. This book was longer than most books I read, but I didn’t mind one bit. I enjoyed every page of this novel and struggled to put it down! And By Fire comes out in May of next year, and I could already see it being one of the best new thrillers of 2022. Add this to your TBR if you’re interested in thrillers, detective fiction, serial killers, London, historical fiction, the Great Fire, or architecture. If you like any of these individual elements then this book has a lot to offer you. This is a great success for Evie Hawtrey, and I’m definitely going to watch out for her future releases. Thank you NetGalley for providing me with an advanced copy.

  7. 5 out of 5

    Elaine

    Thank you to NetGalley for an ARC of And By Fire. Inspired by the Great Fire of London in 1666 and told in dual timeline perspectives, the plot of And By Fire is set in the present day where Nigella Parker, Detective Inspector with the City Police, and her partner, Colm O'Leary of Scotland Yard are partnered up to track an arsonist obsessed with a dead, obscure architect from 300 years ago. Eventually, Parker and O'Leary discover the arsonist's obsession is tied to Christopher Wren, one of Thank you to NetGalley for an ARC of And By Fire. Inspired by the Great Fire of London in 1666 and told in dual timeline perspectives, the plot of And By Fire is set in the present day where Nigella Parker, Detective Inspector with the City Police, and her partner, Colm O'Leary of Scotland Yard are partnered up to track an arsonist obsessed with a dead, obscure architect from 300 years ago. Eventually, Parker and O'Leary discover the arsonist's obsession is tied to Christopher Wren, one of London's most famous architects and who rebuilt St. Paul's Cathedral after the terrible fire that ravaged the city over three centuries ago. At the same time, more than 350 years ago, while looking for their friend, Margaret, a lady-in-waiting to the Queen and Eitenne, a royal fireworks maker - discover a friend's death was a murder. How does this crime from the past relate to Parker and O'Leary's case in the present? First, it's not easy writing dual timelines, much less one in the past and in our current age. I found the past timeline interesting when it described the fire sweeping through London, but not as suspenseful as I had hoped. I was totally turned off by the forbidden love story because I was looking for a mystery, not a romance. The current timeline was no fun either when it mimicked the past forbidden love story to the simmering sexual tension between Parker and O'Leary and a love triangle in the form of Parker's boy toy. Jeez Louise. Personal issues aside, the murders are gruesome and gory, and the investigation does take on a typical police procedural when Parker and O'Leary follow up with witnesses and potential suspects, speak with the M.E. and discuss the case with their superior and colleagues. This I enjoyed. But the narrative dragged, especially at the end when the bad guy targets Parker and makes the case very personal when someone she cares about is kidnapped. I can't believe this was only 330 pages because it read as much longer. That's not a compliment. I was disappointed at the identity of the bad guy, who is neither interesting or formidable. The wrap up of both timelines is (romance-y) and I never connected with Margaret or Parker. I did like the historical side of the story but not enough to add another star.

  8. 5 out of 5

    Nancy Bilyeau

    Two determined women, separated by more than three centuries, struggle to uncover a deadly secret that burns at the heart of London. This is a taut and suspenseful read, rich in history and human drama. You won't soon forget it! Two determined women, separated by more than three centuries, struggle to uncover a deadly secret that burns at the heart of London. This is a taut and suspenseful read, rich in history and human drama. You won't soon forget it!

  9. 5 out of 5

    Lesa

    Three hundred fifty years separate two pairs of detectives, but they’re linked more closely than either would suspect in Evie Hawtrey’s intriguing mystery, And By Fire. While I found the contemporary police procedural more fascinating, the storyline that dealt with the Great Fire of London of 1666 was raw and tragic. Hawtrey vividly portrays both time periods. DI Nigella Parker has terrible memories of a fire when she was a child. Now, she’s “the moth” for the Crime Investigation Directorate of t Three hundred fifty years separate two pairs of detectives, but they’re linked more closely than either would suspect in Evie Hawtrey’s intriguing mystery, And By Fire. While I found the contemporary police procedural more fascinating, the storyline that dealt with the Great Fire of London of 1666 was raw and tragic. Hawtrey vividly portrays both time periods. DI Nigella Parker has terrible memories of a fire when she was a child. Now, she’s “the moth” for the Crime Investigation Directorate of the City of London Police force. She has an affinity for fire cases. It’s no surprise when she’s teamed up with DI Colm O’Leary of Scotland Yard when they’re called to an unusual case. Someone burned a wooden figure, and left it by Sir Christopher Wren’s monument to the Great Fire. Parker and O’Leary can brush that off as a prank, but when a body is found at the next fire, they know they have a killer. It’s a brilliant killer with an obsession for art, and an unnatural obsession with churches designed by Wren. In 1666, Christopher Wren has his own obsession. He wants to tear down St. Paul’s Cathedral and build his own church with his own design for a dome. However, he’s competing with architects who want to repair St. Paul’s, or have their own plans for the church. Lady Margaret Dove is a Maid of Honour to Queen Catherine Braganza at Whitehall Palace. She’s always had a heart condition, and has suffered through medieval treatments. Despite her fainting spells and shortness of breath at times, she loves science, so she sneaks out on the palace balcony when there’s a fireworks show. That’s where she meets Etienne Belland, a fireworks maker to Charles II. Because he appreciates her love of knowledge and science, he helps her sneak out of the palace and visit Bradish and Son, a bookseller. That’s where the pair bumps into Sir Christopher Wren. These two storylines collide when Parker finds a witness statement that Lady Margaret Dove left behind in a book. Following the Great Fire of London, she confronted someone she saw as a killer. Now, with a new interest in the churches designed by Wren, Parker and O’Leary also have to follow, and eventually confront a killer. Hawtrey does an excellent job developing her characters in both time periods. It’s interest in police procedurals that led to my preference for the contemporary storyline. However, Hawtrey vividly brings the Great Fire of London and the aftermath to life in the alternate storyline. Admittedly, I was more disappointed in the solution to the contemporary crime. Hawtrey challenges historical perception with the interesting solution to the crime of 1666. Fans of historical cold cases and police procedurals set in London may find this book to be intriguing.

  10. 4 out of 5

    Cindy Lacey

    Present day London is two cities; Metropolitan London, served by the Metropolitan Police Force, and The City of London, that square mile, walled city established by the Romans, served by the City of London Police Force. A burnt figure has been found at the foot of the Monument to the Great Fire of London. City of London Police Detective Inspector Nigella Parker arrives to discover that it is not an actual body, but a wooden sculpture that has been burned. Her instincts tell her that this is not Present day London is two cities; Metropolitan London, served by the Metropolitan Police Force, and The City of London, that square mile, walled city established by the Romans, served by the City of London Police Force. A burnt figure has been found at the foot of the Monument to the Great Fire of London. City of London Police Detective Inspector Nigella Parker arrives to discover that it is not an actual body, but a wooden sculpture that has been burned. Her instincts tell her that this is not the last instance and that the perpetrator might escalate to killing actual persons. She partners with Scotland Yard Inspector Colm O’Leary, with whom she has a past, to investigate and attempt to identify and stop the perpetrator, using both the modern tools of investigation, including the nearly omnipresent closed circuit television cameras and automobile registries, as well as more old school techniques of interview and surveillance. Their search takes them across London and into the countryside in search of this arsonist with an agenda. The Great Fire of London also plays a part in an intertwining case of two detectives investigating an opportunistic murder that occurs at St. Paul’s Cathedral, during the fire that took place 350 years earlier. A lady in waiting to the Queen of Charles II and a French fireworks maker seem an unlikely pair of detectives, but their interest in science leads them to investigate the matter. The evocation of that era brings to life that terrifying time, when a significant portion of the City ceased to exist, and xenophobia led people to do terrible things to those they perceived as other. Echoes of their investigation are discovered in the present day police case. As the present day case escalates, the investigators find themselves also looking at people close to them. Just who is this fire-artist and what does he want?

  11. 4 out of 5

    Anne

    And By Fire is a gripping mystery/thriller and an excellent first attempt at a dual timeline. Evie Hawtrey is very comfortable in the 17th century and has done her research meticulously. Such a clever idea to tie the Great Fire of 1666 and the two architects whose names are associated with the rebuilding of London with a modern-day arsonist who has a somewhat psychotic beef with one of those architects. How much will a man sacrifice for his art. Quite a lot, Ms. Hawtrey thinks! I loved the prick And By Fire is a gripping mystery/thriller and an excellent first attempt at a dual timeline. Evie Hawtrey is very comfortable in the 17th century and has done her research meticulously. Such a clever idea to tie the Great Fire of 1666 and the two architects whose names are associated with the rebuilding of London with a modern-day arsonist who has a somewhat psychotic beef with one of those architects. How much will a man sacrifice for his art. Quite a lot, Ms. Hawtrey thinks! I loved the prickly rapport between the modern day detective Nigella and her cohort, who are former lovers but forced to work with each other from different police stations. And her 16th century lovers are not from the same stations (in life) and thus forbidden to each other although working together to try and solve a murder of a mutual friend. The two crimes are tied despite being 250 years apart, and each one solves the other as a race for time goes on in the modern-day scenario. An intelligent and exciting read.

  12. 5 out of 5

    Martina

    AND BY FIRE by @eviehawtrey released yesterday which means you must run, not walk, and get it today! I thoroughly enjoyed all aspects of this book. Told in dual timeline -- current day and London during the great fire -- I was equally enthralled by both narratives. Detective Inspector Nigella Parker and Margaret, Lady-in-Waiting to the queen, are strong and flawed characters who are working to solve a mystery centuries apart. I'm thrilled that Evie, who also writes HistFic as Sophie Perinot, tri AND BY FIRE by @eviehawtrey released yesterday which means you must run, not walk, and get it today! I thoroughly enjoyed all aspects of this book. Told in dual timeline -- current day and London during the great fire -- I was equally enthralled by both narratives. Detective Inspector Nigella Parker and Margaret, Lady-in-Waiting to the queen, are strong and flawed characters who are working to solve a mystery centuries apart. I'm thrilled that Evie, who also writes HistFic as Sophie Perinot, tried something new with this crime fiction/mystery/historical. It's gripping and will keep you glued to the pages until the end. Solid 4 stars! Bravo! I received an early copy courtesy of Evie Hawtrey. Thoughts are my own.

  13. 4 out of 5

    Natalie

    3.5 stars The Great Fire of London in 1666 is the key to the dual timeline 'And By Fire' by Evie Hawtrey. Part historical fiction (Hawtrey playing loose with history) and part police procedural, the book alternates between present day London and 17th century London. In present day London, DI Nigella Parker from London city police, and her ex-lover DI Colm O'Leary from the Met police are teamed to investigate a serial arsonist turned killer whose crimes skirt between both jurisdictions. Meanwhile the 3.5 stars The Great Fire of London in 1666 is the key to the dual timeline 'And By Fire' by Evie Hawtrey. Part historical fiction (Hawtrey playing loose with history) and part police procedural, the book alternates between present day London and 17th century London. In present day London, DI Nigella Parker from London city police, and her ex-lover DI Colm O'Leary from the Met police are teamed to investigate a serial arsonist turned killer whose crimes skirt between both jurisdictions. Meanwhile the Queen's lady-in-waiting Margaret Dove, and the king's fireworks master Etienne are embroiled in uncovering the truth of who caused the Great Fire of London. While it's a clever juxtaposition of timelines to employ dual timelines, I found myself skipping the 17th century chapters to get back to the present day chapters. I was more gripped by discovering who the killer was (and there's a huge indication Parker knows the culprit). For me, the historical chapters slowed down the tension. I would've much preferred if the historical chapters were employed minimally. At times I also wondered why Hawtrey wrote Parker and O'Leary as former lovers as both characters don't seem to have much personality apart from Parker's prickliness and O'Leary's easy-going nature. While there is nice banter it comes off as stilted. We're given no sense of how old they are, let alone much about them apart from being a bit of a caricature. The only time it made sense was towards the end when danger appears. Having said all of that, I would love to read more of Parker and O'Leary as part of a series (though perhaps leave out the dual timeliness unless its used minimally). There is a lot of promise for these two as partners. Thank you to NetGalley and Crooked Lane Books for the ARC

  14. 5 out of 5

    Sarah

    Evie Hawtrey’s dual-period mystery marks the debut of a new pseudonym for Sophie Perinot, who has previously written historicals about female royals (and has contributed to other collaboratively-written novels). Switching genres can pose a creative challenge for writers, though based on my experience reading And By Fire, the author's style is a natural fit for crime fiction. The novel's modern thread takes the form of a London-based police procedural, and the historical tale (or rather, tales) ta Evie Hawtrey’s dual-period mystery marks the debut of a new pseudonym for Sophie Perinot, who has previously written historicals about female royals (and has contributed to other collaboratively-written novels). Switching genres can pose a creative challenge for writers, though based on my experience reading And By Fire, the author's style is a natural fit for crime fiction. The novel's modern thread takes the form of a London-based police procedural, and the historical tale (or rather, tales) takes place during the Great Fire of 1666. Somehow, the crimes in both areas are connected… but what could possibly link them across more than 350 years? For one clever perpetrator, the past clearly does not lie quietly. The settings have a very British feel in all aspects, including the characters’ vocabulary. Nigella Parker, Detective Inspector with the City of London Police in the present, won me over with her no-nonsense attitude and wry wit. She and her counterpart at Scotland Yard, former lover Colm O’Leary, get called in to investigate a case of nuisance arson: a human-shaped wooden figure is found, burned, at the base of the monument to the Great Fire. Nigella’s specialty is arson cases, and her intuition tells her the crimes will escalate, since the “weird ones have a habit of getting weirder,” she says. She’s right. All too soon, Nigella and O’Leary are tracking a murderer who seemingly wants to stick it to Sir Christopher Wren, the legendary English architect. And in the 17th century, Margaret Dove, lady-in-waiting to Charles II’s Portuguese queen, Catherine of Braganza, is falling in love with a lower-born man, Etienne Belland, His Majesty’s fireworks-maker. Margaret is a woman of science, or would be if her gender didn’t prevent formal study. She struggles to avoid being matched with an unwanted suitor and to overcome the poor prognosis for her health. When a bookseller friend of the couple goes missing amid the conflagration that engulfs London, they need to learn what happened. Vivid scenes of the Great Fire placed me amid the chaos as flames sweep through the city, people flee with their families and goods, and the King and his brother try in vain to halt the spread. Tension literally and figuratively heats up, since for some, the destruction proves to be an all-too-tempting opportunity. I also appreciated the attention to social class, such as the reaction of Etienne’s family once they realize Margaret is a noblewoman. In the present day, Nigella and O’Leary use all the tools at their disposal, like interviews with witnesses, CCTV footage, and the work of a forensic sketch artist. The two have obvious chemistry, which Nigella – who has moved on to a new lover, James – chooses to ignore for the time being. Briskly paced and sharply written with multilayered characters, the story left me thinking about the factors that motivate people to commit crimes, and the strategies it takes to solve them in different eras.

  15. 5 out of 5

    Michelle Stockard Miller

    I did not know about Christopher Wren and the history of St. Paul's Cathedral, and even though I am a history buff, and I read a lot of historical fiction, I did not know very much about London's Great Fire. So I found it exciting and interesting to have that event written into the historical part of this mystery. I found the events of the fire to be visually descriptive, giving me an idea of the devastation in my mind's eye. While I very much enjoyed the historical parts, the present day mystery I did not know about Christopher Wren and the history of St. Paul's Cathedral, and even though I am a history buff, and I read a lot of historical fiction, I did not know very much about London's Great Fire. So I found it exciting and interesting to have that event written into the historical part of this mystery. I found the events of the fire to be visually descriptive, giving me an idea of the devastation in my mind's eye. While I very much enjoyed the historical parts, the present day mystery is the star of the show in my opinion. Nigella Parker is a smart independent woman with a no nonsense attitude. I like her. I wasn't keen on her relationship with James. I'm just really not that into sexy hookups, but that being said, it didn't overpower the story. I enjoyed the chemistry and banter between Parker and O'Leary, and secretly kept rooting for them to get the band back together. The mystery really kept me guessing. I thought I had it figured out. Guess what? I didn't! I loved the juxtaposition of the murderer's art against the architecture of Wren and Hawksmoor, an art form in its own right. As I said, the story will keep you guessing with a clever mystery reveal even at the very end. I recommend this book to anyone who loves historical fiction and mystery. Looking forward to the author's next book for sure! ******** This book was provided free of charge by the author/publisher through NetGalley.

  16. 4 out of 5

    Jody Blanchette

    This was a book club selection. The best thing about being in a book club is hearing the different opinions of the book. As a whole, the group found the book good but a little confusing with the jump between present day and 1666. A few members read just the present day narrative, then went back and read the 1666, essentially reading the book as two stories. They found that by doing this, they really understood the book better and were able to find the parallels between the stories much easier. This was a book club selection. The best thing about being in a book club is hearing the different opinions of the book. As a whole, the group found the book good but a little confusing with the jump between present day and 1666. A few members read just the present day narrative, then went back and read the 1666, essentially reading the book as two stories. They found that by doing this, they really understood the book better and were able to find the parallels between the stories much easier. The book sparked a lot of conversation about The Great Fire Of London, which some of us had never heard of. The characters in the book, especially the detectives, were loved. Their banter, history and eventual reuniting, really added something to the story. With in the 1666 narrative, there is a similar love story that was equally enjoyed. Together, they were the sparks that ignited the flame of the story. Overall, everyone enjoyed the book. This was not our first historical mystery, but was by far the most researched. I would have loved a map to go along with it, to have a visual of the actual destruction line of The Great Fire of London.

  17. 5 out of 5

    Annette

    This story is told with dual timelines which I usually like. However with this book, the story in the past was kinda boring. The present day story was kinda draggy until the last few chapters. I’m sure there’s several readers who will enjoy this book, unfortunately for me it was just ok. Thanks to the publisher and Netgalley for the early copy

  18. 5 out of 5

    Kristin

    Book 36 of 2022 was excellent! A dual timeline mystery set in modern day London and during the Great Fire of London in 1666. The author heard a NPR report a few years ago that Christopher Wren (the architect of St Paul's Cathedral) was the person who benefited the most from that accidental fire. That touched off the idea, "What if not sooo accidental?" Book 36 of 2022 was excellent! A dual timeline mystery set in modern day London and during the Great Fire of London in 1666. The author heard a NPR report a few years ago that Christopher Wren (the architect of St Paul's Cathedral) was the person who benefited the most from that accidental fire. That touched off the idea, "What if not sooo accidental?"

  19. 5 out of 5

    Kate Eminhizer

    Hawtrey exceeds expectations with this debut. The authenticity of local speech and jargon is spot on. The dual timelines balance each other brilliantly. Hawtrey gives the reader dual mysteries that intertwine in a truly unique way. While one mystery is seemingly an open and shut case, the modern day mystery keeps readers guessing until the very end. The four main characters are true reflections of each other. Nigella and Margaret are both strong women with a weakness. Etienne and Colm are two ve Hawtrey exceeds expectations with this debut. The authenticity of local speech and jargon is spot on. The dual timelines balance each other brilliantly. Hawtrey gives the reader dual mysteries that intertwine in a truly unique way. While one mystery is seemingly an open and shut case, the modern day mystery keeps readers guessing until the very end. The four main characters are true reflections of each other. Nigella and Margaret are both strong women with a weakness. Etienne and Colm are two very successful men who become more than just investigative partners. Each team goes about their tasks with a dedication to due diligence. Hawtrey doesn't hold back in describing for the reader the horrors of the various crime scenes the two pairs encounter. The twists and layers that Hawtrey gives to each mystery are boggling. If this is what she does with a debut it's hard to imagine what Hawtrey has to work towards. I received a copy of this title via NetGalley.

  20. 5 out of 5

    Kris Waldherr

    A richly detailed and complex dual period novel framed by a modern procedural mystery thriller that reminded me a little of Robert Galbraith. The author has clearly done some amazing research to bring 17th century London to life. A great book for those who want some grit in their hist fic.

  21. 5 out of 5

    Jean Kolinofsky

    The first fire involved a wooden sculpture that was placed by the Christopher Wren monument for the Great Fire of London. DI Nigella Parker was called to the scene, but with no actual body it was given a low priority. A second fire raises Parker’s fears that the fires will accelerate and lives will be lost. The first body is discovered at the third fire along with a message indicating more to come. Each fire involves a statue and the locations and message are all tied to Christopher Wren. As Par The first fire involved a wooden sculpture that was placed by the Christopher Wren monument for the Great Fire of London. DI Nigella Parker was called to the scene, but with no actual body it was given a low priority. A second fire raises Parker’s fears that the fires will accelerate and lives will be lost. The first body is discovered at the third fire along with a message indicating more to come. Each fire involves a statue and the locations and message are all tied to Christopher Wren. As Parker and Colm O’Leary of Scotland Yard investigate in the present, author Evie Hawtrey alternates with events in 1066 that lead up to the fire and its’ aftermath. Lady Margaret Dove is a lady-in-waiting to the Queen. She is fascinated by science and fears the day that she is forced into an arranged marriage. Etienne is the king’s fireworks maker. When he meets Margaret they share a love of learning and she feels free to explore. It quickly turns to love with Etienne, but she is nobility and he is a tradesman and they know that their time together is limited. When fire tears through London they discover the murder of a bookseller that they had befriended. As Parker and O’Leary search for a murderer in the present, Margaret and Etienne also follow the trail of a murderer that leads to Wren. Nicholas Hawksmoor was an architect who worked with Wren but was overshadowed by Wren’s achievements. The present day murderer also goes by the name of Hawksmoor and is obsessed with his namesake’s lack of recognition as well as his own. In a demand to the police, he threatens more deaths if news of his actions are not released to the media. Pressure to solve the murders intensifies until Hawksmoor threatens someone close to Parker. As a child, Parker lost two of her friends to a fire and she still has a sickening fear that she must control. She had an affair with O’Leary in the past. Even though they are both seeing others, there is still an attraction that is evident through their interactions. Margaret and Etienne constantly state their love for each other and it does somewhat distract from their story. It is, however, a solid police procedural and a fascinating look at Christopher Wren and the fire of 1066. I would like to thank NetGalley and Crooked Lane Books for providing this book for my review.

  22. 4 out of 5

    Kathy Martin

    This dual timeline story has women separated by more than 300 years of time solving mysteries that are somewhat related. Detective Inspector Nigella Parker has a record of success with arson cases. When she's called in to investigate a charred human figure at Christopher Wren's Monument to the Great Fire of London, she and her partner Colm O'Leary of Scotland yard find themselves on the trail of a murderer who considers himself an underappreciated artist. While in the past Lady Margaret Dove falls This dual timeline story has women separated by more than 300 years of time solving mysteries that are somewhat related. Detective Inspector Nigella Parker has a record of success with arson cases. When she's called in to investigate a charred human figure at Christopher Wren's Monument to the Great Fire of London, she and her partner Colm O'Leary of Scotland yard find themselves on the trail of a murderer who considers himself an underappreciated artist. While in the past Lady Margaret Dove falls in love with a man of much lower social class who happens to have a Royal Patent from King Charles II to make fireworks for his court. Margaret and Etienne are drawn together by their common love of science but pulled apart by the vast difference in their social status. When they go searching for a friend after the Great Fire of 1666, they find his body and come to believe that he was murdered. Their investigation leads them to Sir Christopher Wren. Wren felt that his genius was under appreciated and that rebuilding St. Paul's was his destiny. But first it had to be completely destroyed during the fire even if he had to manipulate events to make it so. And a few deaths wouldn't be too high a price to pay. Meanwhile in the present, Nigella and Colm begin to narrow the suspect lists and focus in on an artist who has patterned himself on an architect who worked rebuilding London after the Great Fire but who did not receive the acclaim of Christopher Wren. I liked the way the two stories were woven together. I liked the romance in the 1666 story and the way the two lovers found a way to be together. The characters in the modern part of the story were also fascinating. I liked the gradual reveal of Nigella's past and the reason for her interest in arson. I liked that she was a dedicated police officer who built her life deliberately to exclude relationships outside of her work. The story was intriguing, and the police procedural aspects were well integrated into the plot. I liked trying to follow along with the detectives as the clues were gradually revealed.

  23. 5 out of 5

    First Clue

    As it destroys, fire creates mysteries in Hawtrey’s past and present-day London. The Great Fire in 1666 is the fulcrum of the historical story. Before the devastation, we find Christopher Wren politicking as he seeks to build his dream dome at St. Paul’s Cathedral, while stingier planners want to continue the never-ending repairs to the existing roof. Initially outsiders to any drama, courtier to the queen Margaret Dove and Etienne Belland, Margaret’s forbidden love (he is both a foreigner and, As it destroys, fire creates mysteries in Hawtrey’s past and present-day London. The Great Fire in 1666 is the fulcrum of the historical story. Before the devastation, we find Christopher Wren politicking as he seeks to build his dream dome at St. Paul’s Cathedral, while stingier planners want to continue the never-ending repairs to the existing roof. Initially outsiders to any drama, courtier to the queen Margaret Dove and Etienne Belland, Margaret’s forbidden love (he is both a foreigner and, as the king’s fireworks maker, a lowly tradesman), find themselves drawn into the fray. When their friend is killed in St. Paul’s during the fire, there may have been more to it than met the eye, and the two continue their romance while looking into what really happened. In the modern city, Nigella Parker and Colm O’Leary are police officers assigned to investigate what becomes a deadly series of fires, by an arsonist who arranges both burned wooden bodies and then real charred victims in poses that seem to mock churches. Like Margaret and Etienne, these two shouldn’t be together—they tried it once and nope—and like their 1666 counterparts, they must fight what appearances seem to dictate and what their instincts tell them to be true. Adding to the atmospheric, absorbing mystery is the depth of research Hawtrey has obviously done on both the Great Fire and St. Paul’s and its famous creator. Try this alongside Robert J. Lloyd’s The Bloodless Boy, which also recreates 17th-century London.—Henrietta Verma For more reviews of crime fiction, visit First Clue https://www.getrevue.co/profile/First... and subscribe to our free, weekly newsletter.

  24. 4 out of 5

    Claudia

    Maybe actually 3.5 stars, rounded down. I really liked the present day storyline better than the one set in 1666. I have read little about the Great Fire and was intrigued by this dual timeline mystery/thriller/crime novel. The present day crimes with gory but fascinating. I was quickly engrossed in the plot and police investigation. Just as things were getting good, the author switched to the 17th century. There was no meaningful connection between these two narratives until about 40% into the b Maybe actually 3.5 stars, rounded down. I really liked the present day storyline better than the one set in 1666. I have read little about the Great Fire and was intrigued by this dual timeline mystery/thriller/crime novel. The present day crimes with gory but fascinating. I was quickly engrossed in the plot and police investigation. Just as things were getting good, the author switched to the 17th century. There was no meaningful connection between these two narratives until about 40% into the book. Maybe the author intended for readers to be intrigued by discovering the connection, and I was, at least at first. However, the disconnect continued too long, and I began to lose interest. I wanted to skim this part of the book. I found myself being disappointed when the author switched timelines to the one that did not interest me. I did not care about the historical characters even though some of them were based on real people. The author did successful convey the atmosphere of London burning, which was initially very interesting. Unfortunately, that wore thin too. Once the connection was revealed, I became somewhat more interested in where the author would take the 1666 story, but it just never engaged me. The ending to this plot was a pleasant surprise, but too little too late. On the other hand, the present day murder investigation and its conclusion kept me turning pages. I also appreciated that the obligatory romantic element was not overdone. The romance was unconventional, which I found refreshing. I would definitely read another novel about this police team. Thanks to the publisher and NetGalley for an ARC of this book in exchange for an honest review.

  25. 4 out of 5

    Sasan

    I have received this book in exchange for an honest review, thank you Crooked Lane Books and NetGalley for the opportunity. I have my own blog now, so please do pay it a visit if you're interested in my other reviews :) ────────────────── Books are fairly easy to get a feel of, in the first few pages. Sometimes, that changes the longer I read, sometimes not. Which is why I tend to put any new book through the 25% test. Until that point, at the very least, I should have become attached to something I have received this book in exchange for an honest review, thank you Crooked Lane Books and NetGalley for the opportunity. I have my own blog now, so please do pay it a visit if you're interested in my other reviews :) ────────────────── Books are fairly easy to get a feel of, in the first few pages. Sometimes, that changes the longer I read, sometimes not. Which is why I tend to put any new book through the 25% test. Until that point, at the very least, I should have become attached to something. That's unfortunately, not what happened with And By Fire. The core of the problem for me, is that this was a romance book first (attachment, pining, past lovers) and the mystery was second. And that's not what I was hoping to read about. Especially after reading that it's for fans of Sarah Penner, who wrote one of my 2021 favourites. Police procedures and the like were interesting, the investigation part of it was fun. However, there must be a way to showcase longing, hidden-but-not-so-hidden feelings multiple times in each chapter and that took me way outside of the story. I may have been able to get through that, maybe, but the writing wasn't as engaging either for me, and I wanted to start skipping pages. Which is never something I want to do in a new-to-me book. DNF 25%.

  26. 4 out of 5

    Mystica

    I got a mini history lesson reading this book. London is divided into two - the Metropolitan London and then the old City of London established by the Romans (?) and governed by the London Police Force. Nigella Parker is the Detective on the scene when a charred body is found beside one of the famed Wren monuments. Closer inspection reveals that it is a sculpture made of wood and Nigella realises that they are dealing with a person who will increase the tension of the case becoming more and more I got a mini history lesson reading this book. London is divided into two - the Metropolitan London and then the old City of London established by the Romans (?) and governed by the London Police Force. Nigella Parker is the Detective on the scene when a charred body is found beside one of the famed Wren monuments. Closer inspection reveals that it is a sculpture made of wood and Nigella realises that they are dealing with a person who will increase the tension of the case becoming more and more daring till he actually starts burning bodies. She is not far wrong and the cases escalate. No clues left behind other than the fact that the person is an artist of high skills and little by little it points out that he has a hatred of anything that Wren built. Detectives have to go back in history to the 17th century - to the Great Fire of London and its widespread destruction with the huge loss of life and then to the rebuilding of it under the supervision of Wren and this is where the first clues emerge. Spanning the centuries, the story is similar and parallels are drawn. The present day murders however have to be solved as quickly as possible since the escalation begins at a rapid pace. Very unusual story in a beautiful backdrop.

  27. 4 out of 5

    Ruth Chatlien

    Evie Hawtrey’s debut And by Fire crackles with as much energy as a well-tended blaze, one that Hawtrey maintains control of from start to finish. There are two related storylines in this novel. In 1666, Margaret Dove, lady-in-waiting to the queen of England, wishes she dared pursue a forbidden life, becoming a female scientist and casting off her noble heritage to marry the man she loves, King Charles II’s fireworks maker. When the Great Fire of London breaks out, the two lovers survive but lose Evie Hawtrey’s debut And by Fire crackles with as much energy as a well-tended blaze, one that Hawtrey maintains control of from start to finish. There are two related storylines in this novel. In 1666, Margaret Dove, lady-in-waiting to the queen of England, wishes she dared pursue a forbidden life, becoming a female scientist and casting off her noble heritage to marry the man she loves, King Charles II’s fireworks maker. When the Great Fire of London breaks out, the two lovers survive but lose track of a friend in the freak explosion that ruins St. Paul’s during the conflagration. What they discover when they seek to find out if their friend is alive or dead casts a possible shadow over the reputation of one of the most prominent men of the age. In the present day, DI Nigella Parker specializes in cases involving fire. When a serial arsonist begins to set fires in London, hoping to win fame for himself and for a historical figure he believes was overlooked, she and her partner DI Colm O’Leary must brush aside any awkwardness from a past relationship and find the firebug before his crimes escalate. The book is fast-paced but with enough character development to make the protagonists seem fully human. Highly recommended

  28. 4 out of 5

    Heather Thorup

    Thank you to NetGalley and Crooked Lane Books for the ARC. And By Fire has two timelines, one in present day London and the other in the 17th century. In present day, we have Scotland Yard's O'Leary and Detective Inspector Nigella Parker working together. They are called upon to solve a string of murders involving fire and sculptures. In 17th century, lady-in-waiting to the Queen and the King's fireworks master team up to help find a missing friend during the siege of The Great Fire of London. T Thank you to NetGalley and Crooked Lane Books for the ARC. And By Fire has two timelines, one in present day London and the other in the 17th century. In present day, we have Scotland Yard's O'Leary and Detective Inspector Nigella Parker working together. They are called upon to solve a string of murders involving fire and sculptures. In 17th century, lady-in-waiting to the Queen and the King's fireworks master team up to help find a missing friend during the siege of The Great Fire of London. They discover not only the missing friend but also the one who started the fire at St Paul's Cathedral. In present day, the pages detailing their discovery is found by accident by DI Nigella. This ties the timelines together by fire and artistry. The professional relationship between O'Leary and Nigella was fun to see. Who committed the crimes and why in present day and in the 17th century was wholly engrossing. I was hooked and guessing until the end. The characters were well developed and likeable. The book was exciting and a pleasure to read! I hope to read more of DI Parker and O'Leary.

  29. 4 out of 5

    Kathleen Buckley

    When dual time novels work well, they can be very good indeed. Because I am picky about historical detail, I am frequently not so much disappointed as annoyed. Even the best author may trip when writing about an earlier period through failure to do enough research or to understand just how much he or she does not know. Evie Hawtrey’s dual time police procedural/mystery AND BY FIRE came as a pleasant surprise. The modern day sections involve the hunt for a serial arsonist in London by a pair of d When dual time novels work well, they can be very good indeed. Because I am picky about historical detail, I am frequently not so much disappointed as annoyed. Even the best author may trip when writing about an earlier period through failure to do enough research or to understand just how much he or she does not know. Evie Hawtrey’s dual time police procedural/mystery AND BY FIRE came as a pleasant surprise. The modern day sections involve the hunt for a serial arsonist in London by a pair of detectives, male and female, who have a prior romantic history. That by itself makes a good story. The parts set in 1666 at the time of London’s Great Fire follow the efforts of a fireworks maker and a lady-in-waiting to solve the murder of a friend committed during that conflagration. The background is well researched and the characters are believable for that period. They are not 21st century people in costume. The two sets of characters’ methods and situations differ but some of their dilemmas are the same. Together the stories dovetail and reinforce each other. This was a thoroughly enjoyable read. I received an ARC in return for my unbiased review of AND BY FIRE.

  30. 4 out of 5

    O Prism

    Excellent story about both police procedural and a love story, one set in present time, the other set in 17th century. Both involved tracking down a murderer, and the older, telling of the Great Fire of London was fascinating. The present involves D.I. Nigella Parker and O’Leary from Scotland Yard hoping to find a killer artist who is into 3D performance art involving human life and fire. The past was a fireworks expert and a Maid of Honor to the Queen. Both couples try to stay one step ahead of Excellent story about both police procedural and a love story, one set in present time, the other set in 17th century. Both involved tracking down a murderer, and the older, telling of the Great Fire of London was fascinating. The present involves D.I. Nigella Parker and O’Leary from Scotland Yard hoping to find a killer artist who is into 3D performance art involving human life and fire. The past was a fireworks expert and a Maid of Honor to the Queen. Both couples try to stay one step ahead of the killer with varying success. If the book was long, I didn’t notice. The timelines were seamlessly woven together, and I had no trouble discerning one from the other. Enjoyed the well-written characters and clear, concise writing. 5 stars, and highly recommend for mystery/thriller readers, and those who enjoy history. Thank you to Netgalley, the author, and Crooked Lane Books for an ARC in exchange for my honest opinion.

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