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The Bloodless Boy

Part The Name of the Rose, part Wolf Hall, a rip-snorting new thriller set in Restoration London that introduces two new investigators, Hooke and Hunt of the Royal Society
The City of London, 1678. New Year’s Day. Twelve years have passed since the Great Fire ripped through the City. Eighteen since the fall of Oliver Cromwell’s Republic and the restoration of a King. London is gripped by hysteria, where rumors of Catholic plots and sinister foreign assassins abound.

The body of a young boy, drained of his blood and with a sequence of numbers inscribed on his skin, is discovered on the snowy bank of the Fleet River.

Sir Edmund Bury Godfrey, the powerful Justice of Peace for Westminster, is certain of Catholic guilt in the crime. He enlists Robert Hooke, the Curator of Experiments of the Royal Society, and his assistant, Harry Hunt, to help his enquiry. Demanding discretion from them, he also entrusts to them to preserve the body, which they store inside Hooke’s Air-pump. Sir Edmund confides to Hooke that the bloodless boy is not the first to have been discovered. He also presents Hooke with a cipher that was left on the body.

That same morning Henry Oldenburg, the Secretary of the Royal Society, blows his brains out. A disgraced Earl is released from the Tower of London, bent on revenge against the King, Charles II.

Wary of the political hornet’s nest they are walking into – and using evidence rather than paranoia in their pursuit of truth  – Hooke  and Hunt must discover why the boy was murdered, and why his blood was taken. Moreover, what does the cipher mean?

Harry, wanting to prove himself as a natural philosopher and to break free from the shadow of Hooke’s brilliance, takes the lead in investigating the death of the boy. He is pulled into the darkest corners of Restoration London, where the Court and the underworld seem to merge.

Harry has to face the terrible consequences of experiments done in the name of Science, but also reckon with a sinister tale with its roots in the traumas of the Civil Wars.

The Bloodless Boy is a beguiling thriller that introduces two new indelible heroes to mystery fiction. It is also a powerfully atmospheric recreation of Restoration London.

Read an excerpt here.


Robert Lloyd grew up in South London, Innsbruck, and Kinshasa (his parents worked in the British Foreign and Commonwealth Office), and then in Sheffield, where he studied for a Fine Art degree, starting as a landscape painter but moving to film, performance, and installation. It was while studying for his MA degree in ‘The History of Ideas’, where he discovered the 17th century, and first read Robert Hooke’s Diary, detailing the life and experiments of this extraordinary man. After a career in IT sales he retrained, to spend the next 20 years as a secondary school teacher. He has now retired from that, returning to painting, and writing. The Bloodless Boy is his debut novel. A sequel, Clockwork Assassins, will be published in Fall 2022.