This review is part of the Corpus blog tour.
Author: Rory Clements
Genre: Crime, Historical Fiction, Mystery, Thriller
Source: The publisher
Publisher: Bonnier Zaffre (26th January 2017)
1936. Europe is in turmoil. The Nazis have marched into the Rhineland; in Russia, Stalin has unleashed his Great Terror; Spain has erupted in civil war.
In Berlin, a young Englishwoman evades the Gestapo to deliver vital papers to a Jewish scientist. Within a week, she is found dead in her Cambridge bedroom, a silver syringe clutched in her fingers.
When a renowned member of the county set and his wife are found horribly murdered, a maverick history professor finds himself dragged into a world of espionage which, until now, he has only read about in books. But the deeper Thomas Wilde delves, the more he wonders whether the murders are linked to the death of the girl with the silver syringe – and, just as worryingly, to the scandal surrounding King Edward VIII and his mistress Wallis Simpson . . .
Professor Wilde’s specialist subject is the Elizabethan secret service. As the scope of the conspiracy is revealed, he must use all the skills he has learnt to save the woman he loves and prevent a massacre.
Rating: ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ (5 stars)
CORPUS by Rory Clements is the first book in a new spy thriller series. The story is set in late 1936, and tells the story of Cambridge history professor Thomas Wilde whose life gets caught up in a series of murders. The story is set during a period of great political turmoil within the UK as King Edward VIII is being forced to decide between Mrs Wallis Simpson and abdicating the throne. Something more than a few people are not happy about. Alongside this, Britain is split between the growing powers of Communism and Fascism, creating a huge powder keg about to explode.
CORPUS was my introduction to Rory Clements, as I have read none of the books in his John Shakespeare series, so I only had the blurb to go on when I picked this book up. CORPUS honestly blew me away. It was everything I wanted in a historical thriller. The world was at once both familiar and alien. The story was engaging, and I found it easy to slip into Thomas Wilde’s idiosyncratic world in the university town of Cambridge (which didn’t get city status until 1951). The world and the characters felt very real, and as such I found the story to be a real page-turner.
Clements tells a really interesting story. I enjoyed the way he shifted the narrative between several different perspectives, as it allowed me to build a broader picture of what was going on. The scope of the narrative is pretty broad, and there is a lot going on but I found it pretty easy to keep track of events – even those that were deliberately mysterious. I’ll be honest, CORPUS really reminded me of John Le Carré’s Karla Trilogy in terms of the feel of the story, although not so much in terms of the content.
I found the plot of CORPUS to be compelling; once I got into the story I found myself just consuming pages. I think Clements really captured the feeling of a lot going on; there are a lot of interconnected narratives, which form the picture of what exactly is going on during the latter half of 1936 in this book. Thomas Wilde was an interesting main character. He is both part of the world of academics at Cambridge, and apart from it too which I thought gave the story an interesting perspective. I also think Clements did a good job at capturing the tension within Britain and the rest of the world during this tumultuous period. I don’t know a lot about this particular period of time, but I think those that do would also enjoy this book.
If you are interested in a historical thriller, then I totally recommend this book. Even if you are just looking for a historical novel or a thriller then you should definitely consider giving CORPUS a try. I honestly don’t think it will disappoint you. Clements has created a really interesting world and crime, and Thomas Wilde is an interesting main character. I also think if you’ve never tried either genre before then CORPUS may just be the place to begin. I really enjoyed reading CORPUS, and I can’t wait to get my hands on the next book in the series.