“The Devlin Diary” was a historical fiction murder mystery that intertwined the lives of Claire in present day London and Hannah in 1672 London very well. I liked Claire’s character immediately, as she struggles with simple decisions that surround her as she starts to become attracted to some of the other professors teaching with her at Trinity College in England. A reader could easily identify with her wit and personality from the first page. Likewise, Hannah’s strength and courage is highlighted as she navigates King Charles’ dangerous court as the only female physician – something others do not condone. Taken together, the women’s stories reveal the expected intrigue and violent murders through strong writing and a solid plot.
The murders at the King’s court are not properly investigated because the King is implicated as a primary suspect. This perspective made me thankful for the investigative journalism that our society enjoys today. While there may be cover ups, at least there are people asking questions, and a police force working for the benefit of the people, two things that did not exist in Hannah’s time. Although Hannah’s tale is interesting, the murder mystery aspect isn’t revealed until more than halfway through the book. Claire’s story in the present is a bit more cohesive because she stumbles upon Hannah’s diary earlier on. In this respect, the second part of the novel seemed a little disjointed from the first part, each story reading as two distinct segments. Near the end, the mystery was solved a little too conveniently, as Claire and others speculate about motivations and actions which they could not possibly know. But, the story tied up well, and ultimately I would prefer a too perfect ending to one which leaves too many questions.
For anyone looking for a good historical fiction novel, I would recommend this one!