The Scent of Death by Andrew Taylor

It is 1778 and the American War of independence is raging. New York is held by the loyalists but blockaded by the rebels and the French, so that it has turned into a wasteland of starving and freezing people. Edward Savill arrives in the desolate New York landscape from London. He is a civil servant with the American office and his job in New York is to process claims of dispossessed loyalists and to observe how justice is being carried out.

While in New York, Savill stays with the ageing Judge Wintour and his beautiful daughter-in-law Arabella, whose husband is missing and thought to be dead. He has left his own wife and daughter behind in England.

Savill is immediately called in to observe a murder investigation. It looks fairly straight-forward but the murder has far reaching effects.

As Savill gets to know those around him and observes what is going on, he starts to question the motives for a lot of what is happening. But between doubtful loyalties and gentlemanly propriety he really has no-one with whom he can share his thoughts. And, a change in his own circumstances part of the way through the story only makes his life more difficult.

The environment and situation surrounding Savill is totally bleak. New York is an extremely dangerous place with much of the population starving or dispossessed. People can change their loyalties for love, personal gain or self-preservation and Savill gets to see some of each of these. Surrounded by betrayal, in the end he has to face one of the most difficult betrayals of all.


This is the first book that I’ve read by Andrew Taylor. It was an excellent book in which to completely lose yourself for a few days. The pace of the story was quite slow, but this was part of the beauty of the book, as it allowed you to absorb the atmosphere. The book was beautifully written and I’m looking forward to reading more Andrew Taylor novels in the future.


Book Published 2013


See a full list of books by Andrew Taylor

Leave a Comment

Filed under Book Reviews, Crime, Historical, Taylor, Andrew

Comments are closed.