No matter how many books one publishes, the very first appearance of a new novel is always exciting. And today sees the official publication by Head of Zeus of my twenty-first novel, not counting collaborative efforts. Blackstone Fell is the third book to feature Rachel Savernake and Jacob Flint and the very first novel of mine to include a locked room puzzle at its heart (although there are other mysteries to be solved as well). It's a book that, for a variety of reasons, I'm really proud of.
But it's one thing for an author to feel reasonably satisfied with a novel (and we all know that achieving perfection is impossible, however much we try). It's quite another for that novel to meet with the approval of others. And while Blackstone Fell is, I hope, a very entertaining story, it's also one that places some demands on the reader. There's plenty of humour in the story, but also quite a bit of darkness and a good deal of mysterious complexity. It's not a pastiche but an attempt to rework Golden Age concepts in a fresh way.
So it's truly encouraging when a reviewer with high standards and expertise 'gets' what one is trying to do. And the initial reaction to the novel in the blogosphere is enormously heartening. Take Puzzle Doctor, for instance, who says: 'One of the strengths of this book is the finale. I can tell you now, if you think that you've solved this, you haven't...I seriously doubt that any armchair sleuth will solve this, despite playing perfectly fair with the reader. There's far more to it than just that, though, with the intriguing central character...vivid descriptions...and a plot that never stands till while never meandering from what you need to see. A must read.'
The blog tour has also got off to a great start - the latest lovely review coming from amwbooks - lots of great quotes there! I'm hugely grateful to Intensive Gassing about Books, What Cathy Read Next, Two Heads are better than one, and Bookish Jottings who have posted reviews already. It's very gratifying when readers unfamiliar with my work find that it entertains them and I'm pleased to see the comments indicating that you can start reading the series with the new book - you don't necessarily have to begin at the beginning with Gallows Court if that isn't convenient. Thanks to everyone who has taken or is taking the time and trouble to read and comment on the book. This sort of reaction makes the writing life feel really worthwhile!