AylesfordSkull1Reviewed by Caleb Shadis

The Aylesford Skull is the sixth book in the Narbondo series. Since this is the only book in the series that I’ve read, I have to ask why it is named after the villain? The main protagonist in the book is Langdon St. Ives, a British gentleman with some standing. It also appears that St. Ives has been in most of the books in the series.

Langdon has just completed an adventure to try and recover some property that was stolen from his Society, property the Society was planning on purchasing. The whole escapade ended poorly. He hasn’t seen his wife and children in weeks and is getting ready to go home when the greenhouse next to his club explodes. At first, he thinks it was a strange accident, but when he checks in the hole that reaches to the sewers, he can hear someone leaving the area and decides to follow. It is almost the last thing he ever does.

Langdon leaves it for the authorities to sort out and goes home. He wants to spend time with his family and not go anywhere for a long time. Unfortunately, fate has other plans for him. Shortly after arriving home, his wife brings home a large Pike for lunch, and Langdon recognizes the smell of Hemlock: someone is trying to poison the family. That very evening, after everyone goes to bed, St. Ives’ young son Edward is kidnapped.

I did enjoy this book and thought it was exciting from beginning to end. Langdon never seemed to get more than a few hours of rest before he needed to be on the move again. It was an interesting adventure and I was constantly wondering what Narbondo’s ultimate evil goal was. He always seemed to be about three steps ahead of everyone else trying to catch or stop him. His biggest asset was that he was totally ruthless and willing to prey on anyone else’s weaknesses, whether their weakness was compassion or love for someone or merely simple greed.

The story runs all over the London area and every time you think Langdon or his friends are ahead and have won a round, Narbondo is all ready to turn the tables and make them play another game. In many ways this was frustrating but the end was a satisfying one. Eventually, I’ll have to read some of the earlier books in the series. However, I do think The Aylesford Skull stands alone and reading earlier books is not mandatory to understand the story.

Rating: ★★★★☆ 

Caleb is a software engineer and amature woodworker living in southern Minnesota. He has more hobbies than he has time or money for, and enjoys his quiet time reading.

Review copy was provided free of any obligation by Titan Books. No monetary or any other form of compensation was received.