The Sweet Smell of Decay by Paul Lawrence

The Sweet Smell of Decay

“As I gazed upon her face a small black beetle emerged from the ruins of her right eye. It stood uncertainly upon the crest of her cheekbone as if suddenly reluctant to step out further. Though I looked upon the beetle as if it was something unutterably revolting – still I felt like we two had something in common.”Harry didn't know he had a cousin. Then one day he is sent to retrieve her from the church of Saint Brides where she lies dead, ...

Details The Sweet Smell of Decay

TitleThe Sweet Smell of Decay
Release DateApr 1st, 2011
PublisherBeautiful Books
GenreHistorical, Historical Fiction, Mystery, Historical Mystery, Fiction, Literature, 17th Century, Crime, European Literature, British Literature, Thriller, Mystery Thriller

Reviews The Sweet Smell of Decay

  • Mary
    Truthfully, I quit this book with about 150 pages to go because it was just...boring. The narrator, Harry Lytle, is a pale, undeveloped, and uninteresting copy of Rose Tremain's marvelous Robert Merivel (if you want to read a novel of Restoration England I cannot recommend her beautiful novel Restoration highly enough) and he is mysteriously commanded to solve a murder with the help of a butcher--why?? Maybe that's all explained in the last few p...
  • Phair
    While I didn't dislike this book I can't say it was a pleasant read. The main character, Harry Lytle, never gelled for me. He seemed muddled, indecisive and just plain vague- I never got a picture of him in my mind. The setting and language of the book felt like the author decided to include his period research by the shovel-full using every description of filth, squalor and bodily function that he could cram into the text and also making sure to...
  • Jo Barton
    Restoration London, 1664, brought vividly to life, with all the sights, sounds and smells of a teeming city. Loaded with intrigue and crawling with treachery, this introduction into the world of Harry Lytle opens with a gruesome discovery of a murdered corpse in a church. Harry and his sidekick, David the butcher, investigate the alleged attack with all the gusto of a modern day CSI. From the bowels of Newgate gaol, to spectatorship at the gibbet...
  • Bettie
    Bettie's Books
  • Shiela
    Harry Lytle is charged with investigating the brutal murder of his cousin Anne Giles. Assisted by his friend, a butcher named David Dowling, the two embark on a journey that takes them across the English countryside, through the dirty and smelly streets of the capital, and into the dreaded Tower of London in an attempt to seek justice. Dirty politics, seedy characters and miscommunication plague them at every step of the investigation and Lytle f...
  • edifanob
    That is exactly the kind of historical thrillers I like so much.The Sweet Smell of Decay is an intoxicating, gorgeous, alluring, interspersed with action and violence, thrilling, twisting, witty and hefty, luckily non smelling, porcupined with historical information, absolutely entertaining, historical thriller.Read my full review of The Sweet Smell of Decay over at Edi's Book Lighthouse
  • Bagtree
    Regular flashes of dry wit don't quite compensate for uneven pacing, a protagonist and sidekick whose motivations never clearly come together, and - while not the author's fault - some of the worst copy editing I've seen in a printed book.The book is also disgusting, but more importantly, it's disgusting in the wrong way. It revels in squalor, describing the surroundings in more detail and with more revulsion than a contemporary character would h...
  • Tommie Niland
    I almost stopped reading so many times! I did finish the book; and after pages and pages of rambling on and on, the denouement came in just a few paragraphs, was so confusing it had to be read twice, and left my head spinning. I have a sample of the second book in the series. I'll read the sample to see if it is an improvement on the first book. Certainly not to be compared with C. J. Sansom's Matthew Shardlake novels!
  • David
    My paperback version had a number of typos. The plot seemed slightly unrealistic jumping around and with such a sudden ending.
  • Teresa D
    Why oh why did I finish this book ??
  • Sharon
    The Sweet Smell of Decay, Paul Lawrence’s first installment of the Harry Lytle Chronicles, opens in the year 1664, with Oliver Cromwell dead and Charles Stuart occupying the throne of England where feuds abound, religious temper seethes, and witch-hunting is heinous sport.Accompanied by the pious butcher, Davy Dowling, Harry Lytle finds himself standing reluctantly in the vestry of St. Brides Church. Is this woman lying before him a cousin - or...
  • Dora
    I will definitely not pick that book to read it again, that's a certainty. First of all, the publishing house (which for all I know has gone bust by now) should have employed a better editor. I found a whole paragraph repeated twice. But that's barely anything compared to the unending blabbering of the author while describing the scenes, making it impossible to enjoy a story that MAY have been more than OK if it got more or less straight to the p...
  • Bob Price
    The Sweet Smell of Decay is a fun little book that has a challenging mystery, good characters, and a fast paced setting. Set in London in the 1660s, the book's actions focus on Harry Lytle, who has been charged with discovering the identity of his cousin's murderer. This quest will take him from the slums of London to the very halls of power and change his life forever.The strengths of the book lie in the writing and characters. At times the main...
  • Danelle
    London, 1664. A clerk at the Tower, Harry Lytle, receives a strange letter from his father stating that his cousin has been murdered. It's a cousin Harry has never heard of, nevertheless he heads out to look into the brutal murder of Anne Giles. Accompanying Harry is Davy Dowling, a butcher who is well-read and learned. Harry doesn't know if Anne really is/was his cousin or why he specifically was asked to look into it (by a trusted advisor to th...
  • Ruth
    c2009. An enjoyable read although I was mostly confused most of the time. I suppose that it was a plot device so that you could follow the protagonists's own confusion. While I was typing that I am not sure whether to bother with the second one in the series, I reminded myself of the humour and the London historical background which was actually very good indeed - so I am going to take a chance on the next one. "Where are you goin'?" a low voice ...
  • Davis Davis
    I really enjoyed the atmosphere and setting of this book, it was a refreshing change from the modern crime/mystery novels I've been reading this year. The narrator was also a big plus: foppish, snobby and lecherous, but doggedly pursuant of his task and duty. However, I have to admit I struggled mightily with the plot. The layers of political machinations and deceit were about three layers too deep for my feeble brain. At several points in the no...
  • Helen Pearce
    I loved this novel from start to finish. There were a few grammatical errors but nothing so major to detract from the story which moved along at a fast pace. I found the book very descriptive, it was as if I was actually transported back to 1664. My only slight criticism would be that as a reader I struggled to get a mental image of the main character Harry as there was no description of him, only a few mannerisms to go on. I am hopeful that afte...
  • Katharine
    I'm so very sad. I desperately wanted to love this book and this series. I just couldn't get into it; forcing myself to continue reading, wanting to give it a chance to pick up. Then I realized that there are thousands of books I want to devour and so many more to come, that I can't possibly come close to reading everything on my list, especially if I don't become more ruthless with my decisions to stop reading a book that I'm not thoroughly enjo...
  • Cliff
    This book reeks with the disgusting mess that was 17th century London (and probably all big cities of the time). In some ways, it is so graphically described that it made me feel ill! The author has researched very well and it shows on every page. It deals with the continued. underground, plotting of the Fifth Monarchy Men who, under one Thomas Venner had led an abortive and ill thought out plot against Charles II and his government in 1661, some...
  • Sharon
    Wow. Just finished reading Sweet Smell of Decay a few minutes ago. It's been a while since a novel drew me in so thoroughly, kept me turning pages with such anticipation. And mind you, historical mysteries are not my usual fare. It'll take me several days to write a fitting review for Mr. Lawrence's novel. Meanwhile, I'd urge anyone looking for a well-written, entertaining, edge-of-your-seat tale to pick up a copy
  • David Marshall
    As first novels go, this suffers the usual problems of poor pacing towards the end and an over-reliance on research to add historical accuracy to the plot. I also found the main protagonist somewhat unlikeable. However, there's enough good in it to persevere to the end and, possibly think about reading the sequel to see if he's improved.
  •  Croe
    Pretty decent. I could kinda tell it was the author's first book, though. Characters often get introduced w/o sufficient description, and there wasn't enough exposition at the very beginning to orient the reader at all. Fortunately, things become clearer as you go along. Although I can't say the twists at the end were particularly surprising. Also, it's hard to fear for the protagonist's life when the book is written in 1st person. But I'd read t...
  • Roxann
    I was really trying to like this book. I do enjoy historical novels. I never connected with the characters, specifically the lead Harry Lytle. He seemed like such a 'background' type of character. The author spent a great deal of time outlining clearly all the sights, sounds and smells of London in the 1664. There were too many characters popping up throughout the book. It was a bit confusing.
  • Rob Menzies
    Gory and great! Paul Lawrence summons up dark areas from the human soul and drags us through the guts and mire of 17th century London in an unrelenting maelstrom of filth and decay, kept afloat by the humour of his writing and the down to earth wit of his leading characters! As historically accurate as CJ Sansom but with perhaps a few more black hearted laughs thrown in.
  • Jo
    Harry Lytle gets embroiled in the investigation of the murder of a young woman who he is told is his cousin. This was a bit of a strange book but in a good way as it's unlike any of the other historical thrillers around at the moment. The crime bit was so-so but I loved all the unexpected witticisms that made me laugh out loud. Will definitely continue with this series.
  • Katie Webb
    I wouldn't bother reading this, as it never felt like it got going. I didn't feel like I was solving the mystery with Harry Lytle and the book wasn't exciting enough to support the slightly ridiculous explanation of events. If you want 'historical detective' series, read C.J. Sansom's Matthew Shardlake series (Dissolution, Dark Fire, etc).
  • Pepper
    I was feeling a bit confused when I started this book, thinking that I had missed some pertinent information, which seems to be the experience through the whole book.The main character is a bumbling fool most of the time, thinking too much of himself.I cannot decide whether to try another in the series to see if it gets better or give it up for a bad job.
  • Tom
    When I picked this up at the free bookshop there were another five copies of it, which got me to thinking that either it was very good or rather crap. I am pleased to say that it was in the former rather than the latter. Quick paced and well executed narrative with a good mystery and characters, worthy of a read.
  • Ashleigh
    This is an amazing book it just makes you want to keep reading .I highly recommend it and the other book too, a plague of sinners I cannot wait for the next book to come out that's how addictive the book is.10/10 for me. It is a MUST HAVE
  • Eliot
    This book was difficult to read and I thought of quitting many times. The story was actually quite good but it was difficult to read and often difficult to follow. I won't read any other books by this author!