The Private Life of Sir Isaac Newton : A Novel, By Philip Kerr
|Value for money||8/10|
|Did it do what it said on the box?||8/10|
Brilliant period piece, with a Sherlock Holmes feel
It is historical fact that Sir Isaac Newton held senior positions at the royal mint from the late 1690s, and with his assistant Christopher Ellis he was involved in detecting and prosecuting numerous offences during a turbulent period in which Britain replaced its money.
Philip Kerr has taken this Newton and his assistant, and turned them into Holmes and Watson, placing them at the centre of a serious intrigue involving financial crimes, political battles and religious atrocities.
It’s a brilliant period piece which explains a great deal I didn’t understand about Restoration Europe. Like his other historical novels Kerr has also carefully used the language of the time, writing in a style reminiscent of Newton’s contemporaries such as Pepys, but always readily understandable.
Some of the period detail is quite gruesome, and can be little uncomfortable. This is not a book for the young or seriously squeamish. However the content is appropriate given the quite dark nature of the story.
I haven’t enjoyed all of Kerr’s more recent works. For example "The Shot", which was a similar kind of period piece, was just too complicated. I have no such complaints about "Dark Matter" – a brilliant historical thriller.