The Kings of London ...


Author William Shaw

Narrator Cameron Stewart

Length of play 13 hours 12 minutes


Available from

21/01/15 Hachette Studios

5 Star Review

Publishers Summary

In the Swinging Sixties, a battle for the soul of the city is fought between cops and criminals, the corrupt and the corrupted.

November 1968. Judy Garland is performing drunk at the Palladium and the city of London is about to catch fire - literally. Summond to a gas explosion, Detective Sergeant Cathal Breen unearths a shocking discovery beneath the rubble: Mind-bending paintings by Bridget Riley and Peter Blake... and the garroted body of Jacob Pugh, a playboy god in the art world. With Detective Helen Tozer, Breen must infiltrate the artistic demimonde of a volatile and increasingly murderous city.
Seen through the eyes of an irresistible pair of detectives, the real London comes in view in The Kings of London: a gritty metropolis thrives in the shadows beyond the spotlights, and all manner of vice is committed in the name of liberation.
©2015 William Shaw (P)2015 Hachette Audio

My Review

The Kings of London, also published as the House of Knives, is the second book of the Breen and Tozer trilogy, and satisfyingly begins just where the first book ended. Again we are transported back to 1968, well, some of us are, the rest are taken for a visit, a wonderful visit, and given the chance to learn quite a lot about the late 60's. Me? I'm comfortable there, it's the feel good factor of the book bringing alive again the lure of London, the "In" places, Carnaby Street, Biba, Mary Quant, Op art, "England Swings", all there, in London!
Yet the story also served to remind me of the less attractive underbelly of life in the 60's, the almost taken for granted police bullying along with the untouchable attitude which led to corrupted practices. Ordinary people had no voice, that is until a generation rose up against it, but that's another story, and in the interest of fairness, there must have been a few good and right minded people running the country and enforcing the law.
The Kings of London finds Breen embroiled in a murder investigation hampered at every turn by the far reaching hand of political corruption. Of course, initially he doesn't know this, but the path he takes, the questions he asks rattle the nerves of the establishment, the victim is the estranged son of a politician. Along comes the fixer, who's job is simply to prevent any hint of scandal from reaching the ears of the public.
In the first book, A Song from Dead Lips, Breen realised that he was a bit behind the times, with the help of a thoroughly modern Helen Tozer he became acquainted with the puzzling Beatles phenomenon and also learned a bit about the women of the 60's. Even so, he remained unprepared for the weird world of art and art dealers, of drug use and of the ways of free love, so he sets about learning everything he can.
That's not all he has on his plate, someone is sending him death threats he thinks he knows who, and decides to keep quiet, to sort it out himself. He also has more than one murder to deal with, one of which changes his world, he is suspended from duty, yet this doesn't stop him in his relentless investigations.
He becomes quite friendly with a lady who keeps disappearing - more intrigue and a compelling aspect of the story.
DC Helen Tozer once again proves invaluable to Breen, she knows how to communicate with people, especially the younger ones and she succeeds where Breem often fails. She's smart, they work well together.
Meanwhile Tozers leaving date is due, she has decided she is needed at home on the farm as her dad is sick and unable to keep up with the work.
I enjoyed how along the way Breem learns more than he ever knew about his own father and mother, it highlights how bleak family relationships can be when they lack what to most of us is basic communication.
There's just so much going on, so many layers to this tale, yet the author somehow blends all the components together beautifully to produce yet another entertaining tale to captivate the listener or reader.
I'm so much looking forward to the next book.


Once again Cameron Stewart has done the author proud, I enjoy the sound of his voice, he doesn't overdo anything. Just right, a top job.
This audiobook is my own copy purchased from, this review is my honest opinion

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