We follow Turpin on his mission to avenge his friend Tobias Vardy, who is killed by the ruthless outlaw, James Skinner.
The pace and precision of the writing are evident from the first chapters. Foreman has the ability to, within just a few lines, create a multifaceted scene – as the reader is transported into the eighteenth century. You can’t help but smile at the quick wit and sharpness of Foreman’s prose. Humorous scenes are often succeeded by violent ones, however. As satirical as Turpin’s Rival is in parts, it is, at heart, a page-turning revenge thriller.
Additionally, Foreman is not afraid to demonstrate the actuality of eighteenth-century life, often including the odours of “Tobacco smoke. Sweat. Piss. Boiled cabbage. Small Beer. Fish, in varying stages of decay”; you won’t be short of wondering what eighteenth century tavern life was like. London is full of colour and character, as the author highlights both the differences and similarities between life in the capital then and now.
The enigmatic fence and moneylender Joseph Colman makes an appearance again to assist Turpin (although there is always a measure of self-interest in his actions). Colman wouldn’t be out of place in the pages of Dickens or Trollope. Nathaniel Gill, Elizabeth Turpin, Albert Merton and Dr Johnson also make a welcome return to the cast.
The ultimate success of the Turpin novels rest on the strength of its hero, or anti-hero. The highwayman is, at turns, melancholy, violent, witty, and conflicted. The reader will enjoy being in the rogue’s company.
Turpin’s Rival builds on the strong foundations of the first book in the series. Long may our hero continue to escape the noose.