And By Fire
Barnes & Noble
Published by: Crooked Lane Books
Release Date: May 10, 2022
Nigella Parker, Detective Inspector with the City Police, has a deeply rooted fear of fire and a talent for solving deadly arson cases. When a charred figure is found curled beside Sir Christopher Wren’s Monument to The Great Fire of London, Nigella faces her toughest challenge yet—stopping a murderous artist creating sculptures using burnt flesh.
Partnering with Colm O’Leary of Scotland Yard, a former lover who made the mistake of saying three little words, Nigella tracks the arsonist across greater London, racing to connect the dots between an antique nail pulled from a dead man’s hands, and a long-forgotten architect dwarfed by the legacy of Wren.
Wren is everywhere Nigella and O’Leary turn. Why? In answering that question they resurrect the coldest of cold cases—the search for a bookseller gone missing during the Great Fire of London more than 350 years earlier. Conducted by an unlikely pair of detectives, a lady-in-waiting to the Queen and a royal fireworks maker, that 17th century investigation discovered devilry in the fiery destruction of St. Paul’s. Did that devilry lead to murder? And can crimes past help catch a modern-day killer?
As Nigella and O’Leary rush to decode clues, London’s killer-artist sets his sights on one of them as the subject of his next fiery masterpiece.
"Bones meets the Restoration Court in Evie Hawtrey's AND BY FIRE, a taut dual-timeline mystery that races along at the pace of an inferno! When London detective Nigella Parker teams up with her Scotland Yard ex-lover to solve a tricky arson case, she never imagines it will lead her to a centuries-old mystery...and another pair of unlikely sleuths from the court of Charles II. As Nigella and her partner race through 21st century London to find a serial killer who sculpts in fire-burned flesh, and a 17th century fireworks-maker and royal lady-in-waiting struggle to find the truth behind the destruction of St. Paul’s during the deadly Great Fire of London, all four lives will hang in the balance. Fresh, dynamic, and crisply researched, AND BY FIRE WILL appeal to histfic fans and mystery readers alike—I couldn't put this one down!"
—Kate Quinn, New York Times Bestselling Author of The Alice Network
Present Day London
“Doesn’t it bother you that they got the spot wrong?”
“What?” O’Leary’s comment snapped Detective Inspector Nigella Parker’s focus back to the road. She slammed on the brakes and they screeched to a stop at a red light.
“The point of ignition for the Great Fire of London.” O’Leary wiped away the coffee splashed onto the lid of his Caffè Nero takeaway cup by the sudden stop, took a slug, and then grimaced. “Ever since 1666 when it burned the city end to end, historians insisted the fire started in Pudding Lane, and then some aging House of Common’s Clerk discovers it’s all wrong.”
“Not all wrong. The fire started two-hundred-and-two feet from Wren’s monument, exactly as years of history said—just sixty feet east of where everyone thought.” Nigella tapped the wheel impatiently. It was ridiculously early on a Sunday morning, the City was dead, but she was stuck at the light despite the lack of cross traffic. This was what came from using her own car: no siren, no free pass to blow through lights. Although honestly this one didn’t justify flashing lights.
A nuisance arson: why had the Detective Chief Inspector called her out for that? True everybody called her “the moth” because she had a special affinity for fire cases, but she wasn’t on the early worm. She was an off-duty DI in the Crime Investigation Directorate of the City of London Police summoned abruptly from an early breakfast; although no one would have guessed that given her crisp oxblood blazer and the perfect twist of dark hair pinned up neatly at the back of her head. Nigella thought longingly of the boiled egg she’d abandoned, with its yolk just the right amount of runny and hot buttered soldiers of toast waiting to be dipped in it. It’ll be fit for nothing but the bin when I get home.
“Sixty feet off is wrong enough,” O’Leary said.
She glanced at him sideways: red-gold stubble on his jaw, unmanageable hair sticking up over his forehead. Nigella had texted her counterpart with London’s Metropolitan Police because she owed him one after the Postman's Park murder case, and she knew he’d been assigned the Haringey fire. Her message had clearly found him in bed.
“Why should that bother me?”
“Because, Ni, you have to straighten your toothbrush if it isn’t precisely parallel to the edge of the basin.”
The light changed at last, and Nigella made a sharper-than-strictly-necessary turn onto Fish Street Hill, catching O’Leary off guard and jolting a bit of steaming coffee into his lap. He winced, then gave her the look—the one that said, “you just hate it when I’m right, Parker.”
Yeah, well, fuck him. No, she’d done that for a while, which might be part of the problem.
Ahead, odd portions of Christopher Wren’s monument to the Great Fire of London appeared—a sliver of the base, the top of its massive Doric column sitting like a hat on a commercial building obstructing her view. Rolling up to the curve where traffic from Fish Street Hill bent left onto Monument Street, Nigella slowed. The department had erected a lean-to against the west face of the monument. The wide-end of soot V” protruded above the upper edge of the tarp.
That’s the spot.
The right-hand section of Monument Street, generally off limits to traffic, was cordoned off and full of police cars. Lots of cops for a nuisance arson. A sergeant peered through her windscreen, then moved aside a cone and waved them in.
Parking, Nigella grabbed her bag out of the back. She’d only taken a few steps when DCI Evans swung in beside her. “What’s with the Yard?” He tilted his head in O’Leary’s direction.
“The Yard,” O’Leary responded, “thought this might be related to the arson last week that disrupted the East Coast Mainline.”
“Not.” Evans shook his head.
Nigella wondered how he could be so sure. Then they reached the tent and he lifted the flap. Scorch marks defaced stone, and at their base, on the pavement, a figure lay curled in a fetal position and entirely blackened.
“Holy Mary,” O’Leary breathed.
So, not a nuisance. Self-immolation . . . or murder. Nigella’s breath caught and her pulse raced. It felt as if her heart was rising upwards to meet the air trapped in her lungs. And in her head she heard a voice from her childhood whisper, you’re it Jelly.