This week came an announcement that gave me a lot of pleasure. I've signed a deal with Head of Zeus to publish two more books set in the 1930s, taking forward the mysterious career of Rachel Savernake and her not entirely reliable sidekick Jacob Flint. I'm hugely committed to these books. Writing them is so rewarding. The reaction from reviewers and readers has been fantastic.
When I wrote Gallows Court, I was nervous about the response because although I wanted to write a twisty thriller with a difference, I was conscious that it was very different from, say, a conventional Golden Age pastiche. There is definitely a Gothic flavour to these stories. The same is true, though not quite in the same way, with Mortmain Hall. True originality is rare (I'll talk about this on the blog next week) but I do think these books are not quite like anything else on the market. Of course that carries some risks - this type of writing is not to everyone's taste, but it seems to have appealed to a lot of people, definitely at the top end of my hopes, let alone my expectations.
One positive consequence of lockdown is that I've been able to crack on with the next book in the series. In between lockdowns one and two, I did quite a bit of location research, when such a thing was possible, and very enjoyable it proved. The new book (which may be called Blackstone Fell, rather than Darkstone Falls as announced - we'll see...) is again an attempt to do something unusual with the classic crime story. I think it likely that this book will be published early next year, with Sepulchre Street to follow in 2023.
What of this year? Well, I'm delighted to say that in June, Allison & Busby will publish the eighth and latest Lake District Mystery, The Crooked Shore. The US edition from Poisoned Pen Press will follow at a later date. It's quite a few years since The Dungeon House appeared, and I think the break has done me and the series a great deal of good. The Crooked Shore takes the lives of Hannah and Daniel a stage further, but again I like to think it offers something rather unusual compared to the typical series mystery. I'll be talking more about this book nearer the time of publication. In the meantime, I can say that I loved writing about the Lakes once again, and my personal feeling is that there is still a huge amount of life and potential in this series for future development.
I really REALLY enjoyed Mortmain Hall, and I especially thought you were very clever in restraining yourself from saying too much in it. The story was its own, self-standing mystery, with the occasional allusions and (to anybody who might not have read Gallows Court) tantalizing suggestions about the "pre-story," but to my pleasant surprise you never "went there," never unpacked the whole of the preceding story in this one. As a second "installment" in a series it was notably light on exposition (therefore never tiresome), PLUS you managed to tie up this one up neatly while at the same time unfolding new...ominous...directions for future episodes. There were..."things" that only very few of the characters in the story, plus the reader of Gallows Court, could have understood and you left them there,without denouement, without a Big Reveal. Amazingly self-restrained of you. Bravo.
I'm really very grateful for those remarks. As you say, it was a deliberate decision on my part, and I was very well aware that it might not suit every reader. But I wanted to do it that way because it 'felt right' in artistic terms and it's enormously heartening and rewarding when a reader 'gets' what I was doing in the way you have. Thank you.
I hope I'll be able to get these in Israel as that's where we'll be living from April on. I haven't missed any of your books yet and I don't want to start now!
Thanks so much, Lisa. I don't know the definite answer given the current uncertainties in publishing, but I definitely hope so! Best wishes for your move.
Congratulation, Martin, on your deal with Head of Zeus for two more Rachel Savernake mysteries.
The enigmatic heiress and her dogged newshound follower Jacob Flint were wonderful creations. And with its labyrinthine plot, its period detail, air of menace and sheer narrative drive, ‘Gallows Court’ was a crime thriller I enjoyed enormously. I haven’t read ‘Mortmain Hall’ yet but have high hopes a copy might materialise on my birthday in April…
Of course, another book I’m looking forward to very much indeed is your 8th Lake District mystery, ‘The Crooked Shore’. I’ve been a fan of the series from the start. And after a break of six years, catching up with Daniel and Hannah will be like a reunion with old friends.
Yes, this most appealing series has legs for many another book, I’m sure. I wonder how Daniel and Hannah have fared in the pandemic?
Thanks, Paul, and happy birthday in advance! I should perhaps have mentioned that The Crooked Shore is set in 2019. I definitely didn't fancy writing about the pandemic - just as, at present, I don't fancy reading fiction about it, either!
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