Day 6 of this fantastic blog tour for Martin Edward’s new novel Mortmain Hall. Just published (April 6th), it’s a brilliant novel with a superb Golden Age crime fiction feel.
I was absolutely thrilled to get a spot on this tour as I love this type of fiction and when it’s one written by such an expert in his field, Martin Edwards received the 2020 CWA Diamond Dagger, I jumped at the chance.
Here’s the synopsis for the book.
ENGLAND, 1930. Grieving widows are a familiar sight on London’s Necropolis Railway. So when an elegant young woman in a black veil boards the funeral train, nobody guesses her true purpose.
But Rachel Savernake is not one of the mourners. She hopes to save a life – the life of a man who is supposed to be cold in the grave. But then a suspicious death on the railway track spurs her on to investigate a sequence of baffling mysteries: a death in a blazing car; a killing in a seaside bungalow; a tragic drowning in a frozen lake. Rachel believes that the cases are connected – but what possible link can there be?
Rich, ruthless and obsessed with her own dark notions of justice, she will not rest until she has discovered the truth. To find the answers to her questions she joins a house party on the eerie and remote North Yorkshire coast at Mortmain Hall, an estate. Her inquiries are helped – and sometimes hindered – by the impetuous young journalist Jacob Flint and an eccentric female criminologist with a dangerous fascination with perfect crimes…
Doesn’t it sound fab!! When I see descriptions like that: 1930’s house parties, suspicious deaths, remote estates, I just know I have to read on!! There is, however, far more to this book.
Extremely cleverly written it entwines different stories and possible crimes, from all the characters in the story and weaves them together to produce a wonderful thriller read. With rich, ruthless and totally untrustable characters, they jump off the page with their superb characterisation. Secrets, court rooms and stories headlining all the newspapers, it really is a golden age feel thriller.
This is the second book in the Rachel Savernake series, with Gallow’s Court being the first, but it can certainly be read as a stand alone novel.
The book introduces it’s characters, of which there are quiet a few, with different plot strands and stories of their own, which, as you read on, all come together at the end of the book. Each story is given a good number of pages to have depth and meaning and allows the reader to have a good grasps and knowledge of those characters. I loved the way each new story seemed to naturally introduce the next thread, and cleverly reveals how characters already introduced fit into this new tale of secrets and criminal goings on.
The two main characters running central to the book were wonderful. Rachel is highly intelligent and extremely wealthy but with her fascination in murder I felt I could never quiet trust what she may get up to. Jacob, a young journalist clearly good at his job and fascinated by Rachel, adds a warm, lighter personality to the novel. Saying that however I loved his escapade the best and found it a thrilling part to read.
The time period oozes from the book with funeral trains, member only clubs, fedora hats and of course the fantastic Mortmain Hall. The descriptions are so evocative I was transported into the settings within the pages as I read. I found the inclusion of The Cluefinder very interesting and even though I have read a number of Golden Age novels, I hadn’t heard of this before. The idea was that at the end of the story, there would be references to the earlier pages where clues were set out in the text, therefore allowing the reader to find out where the clues were that would explain the puzzle. Do not read these though until you have finished the book!
I really enjoyed this novel. It had the wonderful feel of a Golden Age crime novel with it’s social and period setting, but also read like a thriller with the action that takes place. A recommended read!