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The Plot Against Pepys

James Long

An enthralling true story of detection and intrigue in 17th century England.

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It is 1679 and England is awash with suspicion. Fear of conspiracy and religious terrorism has provoked panic in politicians and a zealous reaction from the legal system. Everywhere – or so it is feared – Catholic agents are plotting to overthrow the king. Now Samuel Pepys, Secretary of the Admiralty, finds himself in a position few people then or now would have expected – charged with treason.

Imprisoned in the Tower of London and abandoned by the embattled king, Pepys knows that time is running out before his show trial and execution. So, with customary brilliance, he sets to work investigating his mysterious accuser, Colonel John Scott, and uncovers a life riddled with ambition, forgery, treason and – ultimately – murder.

Using rare access to Pepys’ own account of the affair, James Long and Ben Long brilliantly evoke a turbulent period in England’s history – and tell the forgotten story of the two most dangerous years in the life of the legendary diarist.

Critic Reviews

The book is packed with marvellouse asides that add colour to an already kaleidoscopic cavalcade of crass credulousness, court drama and crookery ... I couldn't put it down, and there aren't many books on the seventeenth century you can say that about.

Guy do la Bedoyere, History Today
Critic Reviews

The authors of this lively ... account have set out to tell the story of Pepys's dangerous later years with somehthing of that rich detail which we find in the diary. They have researched diligently in the great mass of papers that Pepys left behind ... Their delving in the records has been tireless and fruitful.

Literary Review
Critic Reviews

Interesting ... meticulous ... The modern biographer has the problem of seeiming either excessively speculative or entirely unnecessary. The problem was overcome in splendid style a couple of years ago by Claire TOmalin in her full-dres life. The Longs, father and son, have solved the problem in a different but just as effective way ... The Longs have discovered and spelt out a terrifying corner of English history ... this terrifying tale continues to carry baleful warnings in our own age of suspicion and interrogated loyalties.

The Spectator
Critic Reviews


Sunday Times
Critic Reviews

This crisis and Pepys's determined attempts to clear his name are adroitly described by father and son James and Ben Long. They let the drama speak for itself, and Pepys's fortitude too as the diarist found himself cast as the victim in a thriller.

The First Post
Critic Reviews

James and Ben Long's fascinating new book ... One of the virtues of this book is that James and Ben Long are always aware of the larger politial background ... This story, so well told here, is of course not new ... The Long's, a father-and-son team, have worked industriously through most of the manuscripts, and are able to add many points of detail. But this is not just a book for Pepys buffs. It is a work to be enjoyed both as a powerful detective story, and as a fascinating entree into the paranoid-populist world of politics in late 17th-century England.

Sunday Telegraph