“A Republic of Shadows” by Andrew C Lawson

Artistic creativity comes from taking two elements and joining them in a new way. Andrew C. Lawson looked at two eras of English history where the Roman Catholics were losing out to their Anglican enemies and found a way to tie the two together. The device is a letter, written by Anne, the last Catholic Queen of England, detailing her search for her son, William, kidnapped by Irish separatists. This letter is found in modern times, and leads the finders to search out the clues that Anne left behind in a centuries-old treasure hunt, with the legitimacy of the whole House of Windsor as a prize at the end. Helped by the present-day IRA.
So “A Republic of Shadows” is a mystery-thriller based on a small bit of history, creatively interpreted. It also has touches of conspiracy theory, in which several organizations, namely the Guard at the Tower of London and the Irish Republican Army, turn out to be much different from what we always imagined.
So don’t expect much historical veracity. You’re more likely to appreciate this book because of its non-stop action and its geographical sweep of the tourist highlights of Ireland. You might not be too impressed when our heroes find it necessary to destroy several of said highlights in order to find their next clue, but the running gun battles and car chases make up for a lot.
I can accept a stretching of my belief if the story is good and the characters are empathetic, but here is where I have my problem. The characters do not stand out in my memory. Even the two heroes, Erica the historian and Parker, her lover and faithful sideman, fail to attract my sympathy in more than a general way, and they and their relations ship do not develop in any way I can find over the course of the novel.
In this type of story the usual technique to increase the suspense is to have the two lovers become more and more attached to each other as the action becomes more and more desperate and the enemy closes in. Missing our connection with the main characters, we find that even the best action feels rather flat instead.
In all, a decent book, but written from the head more than from the heart, and in need of one more proof-reading pass.
3 out of 5 stars (3 / 5)

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