Wednesday 30 March 2022

A Walk Among the Tombstones - 2014 film review

Lawrence Block is one of America's leading crime writers and a winner of the CWA Diamond Dagger. He's not only prolific; he is talented and versatile. More than twenty years ago, I had the good fortune to publish one of his wonderful short stories, 'Looking for David', in an anthology I edited, Whydunit?, and he won an Edgar for it. So I'm not quite sure why it's taken me so long to get round to watching the film of his novel A Walk Among the Tombstones, but I'm glad I did.

The film is scripted and directed by Scott Frank, who was also responsible for the excellent The Queen's Gambit, and this earlier work displays similar virtues of crisp writing. And again Frank benefits from casting a high calibre actor in the lead role. Liam Neeson, who plays unlicensed private eye Matt Scudder does not, perhaps, have as great a range as some actors, but what he does, he always does very well and he's ideal for the role.

A drug addict approaches Scudder and asks him to help his brother, whose wife has been kidnapped and murdered. The brother is a drug trafficker and he's bent on revenge. Scudder declines the job at first, but is persuaded to seek out the kidnappers and learns that they have been responsible for more than one murder. A chat with a cemetery groundsman gives him a lead...

This is a very dark film, set in a New York where it always seems to be raining. The plot is sound rather than brilliant, and the pace is not electric, but Neeson's performance really holds everything together. I always enjoy watching his portrayal of crumpled decency and it's rather a shame that he hasn't appeared in any more adaptations of the Scudder stories.

Monday 28 March 2022

This Deadly Isle

I'm delighted to announce the publication on April 18 of my new Golden Age mystery map of Britain, This Deadly Isle. Yes, it's a bit of a departure from my usual  line of work (and it won't be the last such departure this year) and putting the material together really was a great deal of fun. A winter project that I much enjoyed.

This Deadly Isle is published by Herb Lester Associates, who have produced a number of interesting and very attractively designed mystery-related maps, for instance a nice Agatha Christie map by Caroline Crampton, who hosts the excellent Shedunnit podcast. I've covered several of these maps on this blog previously and it was a great pleasure to be asked to prepare one myself.

Golden Age fans tend to like maps. I certainly do and I'm always pleased to find an old novel with a map of the area where the events unfold. In creating This Deadly Isle, my aim was to offer a wide variety of locations across the country and to feature an equally wide range of stories and authors. So the usual suspects are present and correct, but there are also plenty of titles that many people will be unfamiliar with. If you fancy a copy, ordering details can be found here.

I've never created anything like this before and naturally one wonders what the artist will make of the raw material. I'm very impressed by the images I've seen so far and I am really looking forward to receiving my own map... 

Friday 25 March 2022

Forgotten Book - Crook O'Lune aka Shepherd's Crook

E.C.R. Lorac has become of the most popular authors in the British Library's Crime Classics series, something which causes me considerable pleasure. I am a fan, but it's also true to say that because she was so productive I still have a lot of entertaining reading ahead of me. The latest book I've devoured is Crook O'Lune, published in 1953. It is a good one, and what's more, as I explained on Monday, it prompted a very enjoyable trip to Lorac country last weekend.

At first, though, I wasn't sure if I was going to love the story. It begins slowly -very slowly. Gilbert Woolfall arrives at Kirkholm Station (based on the real-life Hornby station, which no longer exists) and enjoys an exhilarating walk through fell country. He has inherited a house at High Gimmerdale - which is a fictional version of Roeburndale. In the first three chapters, Lorac presents us with a lot of background information, and although it is relevant, it does mean that the pace and mood are rather low-key. I'm surprised she didn't try to integrate the factual material into the story in a more exciting way.

That said, things begin to warm up once Chief Inspector Macdonald arrives on the scene. He is on holiday - and is thinking of buying a farm in the area - but we all know what happens when fictional detectives go on holiday, don't we? Soon there are stories about sheep-stealing and before long there is a case of arson which has fatal consequences.

From then on, we have Lorac at her best. The characters are well-drawn and presented, for the most part, with compassion as well as insight. The setting is especially well evoked and you can tell how much she loved the area in which she lived. The story, too, turns out to be a pretty good one. All in all, it's well worth hunting for this mystery.

Wednesday 23 March 2022

The Courier - 2021 film review

Benedict Cumberbatch is one of my favourite contemporary actors. He seems to enhance any TV drama or film that he appears in. The Courier, a new spy film, is a good example. It's based on a true story that I recall distantly from my early childhood, and his performance makes the most of a competent script by Tom O'Connor (not the Scouse comedian, for sure). The director is Dominic Cooke, who was also responsible for the low-key but interesting On Chesil Beach, which I watched on a plane a few years ago.

Cumberbatch plays Greville Wynne, a British businessman who is persuaded by MI6 (represented by Angus Wright, playing Dickie Franks) and the CIA (Rachel Brosnahan plays Helen Talbot) to assist with a plan to find out about the Soviet nuclear plans with the help of Oleg Penkovsky, a senior official who is contemplating defection.

From what I have read of Wynne, he was a bit of a fantasist, certainly in later life, but he also had plenty of courage, risking his life to assist the security services. If you're not familiar with the story, I won't spoil it for you, but suffice to say that this is a good spy yarn, lifted out of the common run by Cumberbatch's performance. Jessie Buckley is also very good as Wynne's long-suffering wife Sheila. There's a smallish part for the ever-reliable Anton Lesser.

Recent events in the Ukraine have provided depressing evidence that although the Cold War may be long over, international tensions remain and are becoming acute. The events explored in The Courier serve as a reminder of the tragedies that can occur when political vanity and aggression get out of hand. It's definitely worth watching.

Sunday 20 March 2022

A pilgrimage to Lorac country

I'm back from a short but exhilarating trip to the countryside E.C.R. Lorac knew so well in and around the north of Lancashire and the Lune valley. The inspiration for this little pilgrimage was Crook O'Lune, her novel of 1953, which is set in the fictitious environs of High Gimmerdale. I'll write about the book in a future Forgotten Books post, but for now I'll concentrate on the visit.

I was lucky to have as my guides on Saturday afternoon Lena and David Whiteley, who have given me a great deal of help in my researches into Lorac's life and work. Lena knew Carol Rivett, who wrote as Lorac and as Carol Carnac, and has very warm memories of her. She and David know the area like the back of their hands and they kindly took me to Roeburndale, which was the real-life model for the setting of the story.

This is sheep farming country (the US title for the book was Shepherd's Crook). The Trough of Bowland is in one of the least densely populated parts of England and it was fascinating to explore the area - our route was eventually blocked by a gate. Two bikers managed to get through, on their way to Slaidburn, which was my next destination. The sat nav, however, took me the long way round. It was a delightful journey as the sun set over the quiet fells.

Lorac often disguises her settings, but in the novel, Chief Inspector Macdonald goes to the Hark to Bounty pub in Slaidburn and enjoys a dinner there. I was pleased to discover that not only is the Hark to Bounty a real pub, they have accommodation too. So we emulated Macdonald (a first-rate steak and ale pie was my choice, not sure what the detective ate!) and went one better, by staying the night as well. It seems from what we were told that Lorac too may have stayed at the Hark to Bounty, I think she must have been impressed, since in truth there was no obvious need for Macdonald to go there; I suspect she just wanted to give them a plug - and why not? Slaidburn is a lovely village and it was good to explore it on a beautiful Sunday morning after a filling breakfast which leaves me needing to lose weight! All in all, a great trip. And an enjoyable book, too.   

Friday 18 March 2022

Forgotten Book - Dominant Third

I first became aware of Elizabeth Hely's 1959 debut novel Dominant Third thanks to a laudatory review by John Norris on his excellent Pretty Sinister blog. Some time after that I managed to lay my hands on a modestly priced copy inscribed by the author, but I've only recently got round to reading it. I was tempted to do so after re-reading William Mole's The Hammersmith Maggot. Why? Because Mole and Hely were husband and wife.

Their real names were William and Elizabeth Younger and he was a spy. This novel is dedicated to 'Mole, with love', and it is sad to think that he died only a couple of years later, when still only in his mid-forties. She published just four novels, three of them featuring the French cop Antoine Cirret who plays an important but still subsidiary role in this book.

I found this a fascinating if frustrating story. Hely really could write. She was strong on both characterisation and setting. As for the plot - well, it is intriguing, but flawed. There are signs here of the same amateurishness that - for all its merits - weakens The Hammersmith Maggot. Interest is diffused too regularly and I think this is because of the odd story structure that the authors impose on themselves.

The story is set in France. Newly wedded Mark and Laura Needham seem blissfully happy - although there is a hint of doubt about this - but their idyll is destroyed in the most shocking way, with Laura raped and murdered while Mark is asleep. There isn't much mystery about the culprit's identity - the real question is: how can justice be done? Apart from the killer and Mark, the other key characters are Cisset, Mark's gay friend Alec and his childhood sweetheart Andree. But the viewpoints shift so jerkily that I found myself irritated at times. I don't think Hely thought quite enough about her readers. And this is a real pity, because Hely is doing something ambitious here, and doing it, in many respects, very well. It's a book that doesn't deserve the oblivion that has been its fate, despite the fact that it was televised in the US under the title I'll Be Judge, I'll Be Jury.  

Wednesday 16 March 2022

Rediscovering Durbridge

I've mentioned Melvyn Barnes on this blog previously, in connection with the good work he's done in relation to Francis Durbridge. He's currently collaborating with an enterprising small press, Williams & Whiting, to bring more of Durbridge's work, a worthy endeavour. I invited Melvyn to tell my readers more about this project:

'My fascination with Durbridge goes back to adolescence (of blessed memory) when I was glued to the radio and later to television in my determination not to miss the next instalment of the latest Durbridge serial.  But Durbridge did not figure in the many years that I spent in writing books and articles about crime fiction, until the turning point of retirement from the day job provided more time to spend on research.  So perhaps inevitably Durbridge once again took centre stage, particularly as this multi-media craftsman had been largely neglected by the historians of popular culture.  And far worse than that, on the Internet he was misrepresented by inaccurate information that will doubtless remain in the ether forever.

Durbridge thus became my principal subject of research, the result being a self-published book Francis Durbridge: A Centenary Appreciation (2015).  That was just the beginning, however, as it had become increasingly clear that Durbridge left innumerable unanswered questions about his works, the way in which he recycled plots, things written but never produced, and other aspects that needed to be investigated and if possible clarified.  Indeed this presented a renewed challenge, requiring another lengthy period of research that led to the publication of a much larger book Francis Durbridge: The Complete Guide (Williams & Whiting, 2018).

So was this Case Closed?  On the contrary, Francis Durbridge is never that straightforward and some bombshell revelations soon began to emerge.  These arose from the fact that although he died in 1998 his widow lived for very many years afterwards, and understandably their two sons had long deferred sorting their father’s papers.  But now they discovered that numerous original typescripts had survived, some of them never available as novelisations or recordings nor even produced in their intended form - be it radio, television or cinema film.  Trumpet fan-fair - step forward the publisher Williams & Whiting, now contracted to transcribe and publish all of these typescripts as e-books and print-on-demand paperbacks.

My own role has involved validating, proof-reading and in particular writing Introductions for each book.  So far I have written thirty-four Introductions, with increasing excitement because these scripts will gradually become an impressive set of uniform volumes.  At the time of writing, those already published or imminent are – The Scarf (1959 television serial); Paul Temple and the Curzon Case (1948 radio serial); La Boutique (1967 radio serial); The Broken Horseshoe (1952 television serial); Three Plays for Radio Volume 1 (1945-46 Over My Dead Body, Mr Lucas and The Caspary Affair); Send for Paul Temple (the original 1938 radio serial); A Time of Day (1957 television serial); Death Comes to the Hibiscus (c.1942, an unproduced stage play) and The Essential Heart (1943 radio play), both written under the pseudonym Nicholas Vane; Send for Paul Temple (1943 stage play); The Teckman Biography (1953 television serial); Paul Temple and Steve (1947 radio serial); and Twenty Minutes from Rome (c.1954, an unproduced television play).

As indicated above there are many more to come, and for me it has been a labour of love.  But I gather that Durbridge’s son Nicholas is now laboriously transcribing his father’s handwritten diaries – so who knows what new information might emerge?'

Thanks, Melvyn. I'll be posting more about these interesting books in due course.

Monday 14 March 2022

William Hurt R.I.P.


I was very sorry to learn of the death of William Hurt, at the age of 71, and following some years of ill-health. If you search references to him on this blog, you'll find a number of reviews of his films, most recently The Village, which I enjoyed and which were enhanced by his presence in the cast.

To me, though, he'll always be Ned Racine, in Body Heat, one of the most enjoyable crime films ever made. I loved the idea of the slick and slightly sleazy lawyer who, as his friend (played by Ted Danson) said, 'used his incompetence as a weapon'. I've met one or two lawyers like that in real life, but they didn't have Ned Racine's charm. In the photo above he is with Kathleen Turner, who made her name in the film. 

Naturally, I referenced Ned in the Harry Devlin series, and I've watched Body Heat several times, always with relish. It's a great illustration of a story and film that is, on the surface, derivative, because it uses well-established tropes and ideas, yet makes something fresh of them. As for William Hurt, he was a superb actor with a truly impressive range. 

Sunday 13 March 2022

Back to the Book Fair

Yesterday I drove across the Pennines to Harrogate, where a PBFA book fair was being held in the airy Yorkshire Pavilions - a good venue, I think. It seems scarcely credible, but it's more than two years since I last went to a book fair - at York Racecourse. None of us imagined back in January 2020 what disasters were about to befall the world. So it was great to have a sense of at least some normality returning, even though times remain hard for a good many people, in Britain as well as overseas.

I enjoyed a chat over lunch with Paul Chapman and Mark Jones (the photo comes from their website), two experts on Sherlockiana and much else. Among other things, they host the Doings of Doyle podcast, which is well worth a listen. I first came across Paul back in the 90s when he reviewed a couple of Harry Devlin novels for the late lamented Sherlock magazine and it's good to see things going so well for him.

I also caught up with Catherine Hawley and her husband, who had a bookstall. Looking back at the blog, it's striking to think it's more than seven years since I first chatted to them both at a book fair. Time definitely flies. They were telling me about Leeds Library, an old-established private library which I must go and visit when I get the chance.

Among other familiar and friendly faces was another great bookseller, Jeremiah Vokes, who introduced me to a colleague and fellow dealer Louise Harrison. And James Pickard, as usual, had some terrific treasures on display, including a lovely inscribed copy of Dick Francis's first novel. James has introduced me to the concept of 'shelvability', a term that is sure to crop up if and when I write another story about my book detective, Benny Morgan, who made his debut in The Traitor.

Somehow I managed to restrain myself from making any purchases, but there were some excellent books on display and it was wonderful to be back at a book fair again. The PBFA run some terrific fairs and I can strongly recommend them.



Friday 11 March 2022

Forgotten Book - Six Queer Things

Christopher St John Sprigg packed a great deal into his life before his tragically early death during the Spanish Civil War, when he was still not quite thirty. The detective novels he wrote are varied and interesting and one can only speculate about what he might have achieved in the genre had he lived (assuming, that is,he hadn't devoted himself to Marxism and writing poetry, two of his principal preoccupations at the time of his death). 

Six Queer Things was his last detective novel, published posthumously in 1937. I've read a range of reactions to the story on the internet. Some people are keen on it, others are less enthusiastic. I am in the former camp. I think it's one of his best mysteries, and although the narrative wanders about at times, the overall effect is pleasing.

At the start, we are introduced to Marjorie Easton, aged twenty, who lives with her mean old uncle, an accountant called Samuel Burton. She is planning to marry a decent young chap called Ted Wainwright, but her life turns in a dramatic new direction when she is offered a highly paid job by Michael Crispin and his sister. Crispin is a medium, of a very unorthodox kind as it proves.

It's clear that something sinister is going on - but what, exactly? The story careers along until finally murder occurs - and is quickly followed by a remarkable revelation about the victim. It seems an open and shut case of poisoning, but the stolid Inspector Morgan soon realises that there is more to the case than meets the eye. It's fair to say that this is a young man's book, brimming with energy as it bowls along, but with a few disconcerting digressions. But the energy is what counts, and I enjoyed the ride.  

Wednesday 9 March 2022

Back to Blackstone Fell

For the past few days, the sun has come out of hiding and I've taken advantage of the chance to relax and get out of doors after quite a hard-working winter. I've recently sent off the corrected proofs of The Life of Crime and the copy-edit of Blackstone Fell, so I've been able to enjoy roaming around a number of pleasant National Trust properties. And yesterday I revisited the spot which formed a crucial part of the inspiration for Blackstone Fell.

This is Hardcastle Crags, a wonderful wooded valley north of Hebden Bridge in Yorkshire. There's a mill, with a tea room (not open every day at present) and on my first visit, just after the original lockdown, the place swarmed with visitors on a sunny Saturday in summer. This time, despite the clement weather, it was all very quiet and I enjoyed the tranquillity.

Ideas for novels often come from various sources. The original notion for Blackstone Tower, which plays an important part in the story even though we never go inside it, came even earlier, from a visit to Salomons Tower in Kent. At one point, I thought I'd take that site as my model for the whole story, but after visiting Hardcastle Crags, I felt that a setting on the edge of the Pennines would give me just what I wanted from this particular story. The Crags were transformed into Blackstone Fell, although the idea for the caves at the base of the crag, which again play a part, came from yet another trip, to Kinver Edge.

Walking along the stream that runs through the valley yesterday, and skipping over a few stepping stones, I was reminded of a scene in the novel where Rachel Savernake ventures to the notorious Blackstone Leap. The concept of the profound dangers of the Leap came from Bolton Strid, also in Yorkshire, but some miles away from Hardcastle Crags, and said to be the most dangerous short stretch of water in the world.

But the novel begins on Blackstone Fell itself, and an attempt on the life of a journalist called Nell Fagan, who narrowly avoids being crushed to death by a falling boulder. That idea came to me after climbing up the Crags and it was lovely to revisit the scene of my fictional crime, knowing that the book is not only completed, but to be published in September. Can't wait!


Monday 7 March 2022


One of the beauties of Geoff Bradley's magazine (or fanzine) CADS is that you never quite know what each new issue will bring. There are contributors who feature regularly, such as Marv Lachman, Liz Gilbey, Mike Ripley,  Philip Scowcroft, Barry Pike, and Jamie Sturgeon, as well as others who cover an extraordinarily wide range of subjects. As a result, I always come away from reading each new issue with something else to look out for.

This is certainly true of the latest issue, CADS 87. For instance, I was unaware of the two detective novels of Alison Cairns, which John Cooper (a sound judge) writes about with considerable enthusiasm. I was familiar with Philip Levene, the radio and TV writer whom Melvyn Barnes discusses in a fascinating piece, but I wasn't aware of the full extent of his work. As a result, I've had a chance, thanks to YouTube, to listen to a couple of his entertaining radio plays. And this in turn has led me to other radio discoveries.

One piece I was glad to see again was a long appreciation of Cyril Hare by his son Charles. Many years ago, Charles sent it to me, along with the initial pages of his father's final novel, which he wondered if I might be interested in completing. Unfortunately there wasn't enough material to build on, but it was fascinating to read. Charles died a few years ago, but his article is full of interesting observations.

My own contribution covered some material which I wasn't able to accommodate in The Life of Crime - a piece dealing with correspondence from Fergus Hume, the American writer Elizabeth Fenwick, and W.J. Burley. But there's much more to enjoy in CADS 87, including a piece by Philip Gooden on J.C. Masterman and an article by Pete Johnson about Nicholas Blake's best books. For fans of crime fiction of any vintage, CADS is a great read and a wonderful resource - strongly recommended.  

Friday 4 March 2022

Forgotten Book - The Detling Murders aka The Detling Secret

I first read Julian Symons' The Detling Murders not long after its original publication in 1982. It was the third of his Victorian mysteries, following the highly successful (and televised) The Blackheath Poisonings and the very interesting Sweet Adelaide. Both those novels drew heavily on real life nineteenth century murder cases, although they were very different from each other. The Detling Murders was different again - Symons strove not to repeat himself, hence his distaste for series characters - but I remember feeling rather underwhelmed. 

For one thing, if not for the title(which was changed for the US anyway), I'd have wondered if I really was reading a murder mystery. Murder doesn't occur until we are more than half way through the story, while the second killing takes place very near the end of the book. Symons himself felt dissatisfied with the book and decided to go back to writing contemporary mysteries.

On rereading the book, however, I was more impressed. This is partly because Symons' picture of upper class Victorian society is very entertaining in its own right. The Detlings are a fading branch of the landed gentry and Sir Arthur Detling, the head of the household, is almost a caricature of a crusty old reactionary. But the family dynamics are nicely portrayed. The starting point is the news that Dolly Detling wants to marry an up and coming Liberal MP, Bernard Ross, whose background is rather mysterious. Sir Arthur isn't happy, but the couple get their way.

As usual, Symons moves the story along over a period of time, shifting focus from one character to another, so that it's not clear where events are heading. There are some Fenian dynamiters lurking in the background and shady business dealings aplenty. Roderick Detling is a gambler who has run up debts, while Nelly Detling gets herself involved with a dodgy crowd of artists (allowing Symons to write yet another bohemian party scene - he really did like writing those). The plot is carefully constructed, and stronger than I appreciated on a first reading. And as ever with Symons, the book is extremely readable. It ends up with a Christmas family gathering in rural Kent - the sort of scenario which usually opens detective stories rather than closing them. In this part of the book, as earlier, there are some nice comic touches.

The main reason why this book isn't a complete success is, I think, that Symons didn't pay enough attention to the building of tension and suspense. He sets up a series of intriguing situations but there's not as much excitement as many readers expect and indeed demand. Nor is it clear (and this is a problem in quite a few of his books) which member of his ensemble cast of characters is the central protagonist. For me, Bernard Ross is clearly the central figure and I think the story might have worked better if the focus on him had been clearer and more unrelenting. I guess Symons feared that this would reduce the surprise element of his story, but there could have been ways round that challenge. As it is, the murders and their investigation seem more perfunctory than is desirable in a detective novel. So this is a minor Symons, but it's definitely good enough to justify a read. Or two. 


Wednesday 2 March 2022

The Crooked Shore in paperback and ebook


The elegant UK paperback edition of The Crooked Shore has just been published by Allison & Busby and I had a chance to celebrate this pleasing milestone last night, by giving my first library talk since before the pandemic changed the world. The venue was Barnton Library, in Northwich, a few yards from the house of one of my great friends from schooldays, Andrew Golding, whose home I visited many times, and who sadly died far too young. 

I've been delighted by reaction to The Crooked Shore from reviewers and readers alike. This is my first Lake District Cold Case Mystery for six years, and just as The Dungeon House was a bit of a departure within the series, so - even more so - is this novel. Last night I was discussing the craft of crime writing and explaining why I believe that, even within a series which has been running for years, it's desirable and rewarding to keep trying new things. It keeps me fresh as a writer and I hope that readers find it adds to the enjoyment.

The danger with any series is that, even if it begins brilliantly, it can become a bit stale and formulaic. Ever since Conan Doyle tried to kill of Sherlock Holmes at the Reichenbach Falls, there have been cases of writers becoming bored and frustrated with series characters. I'm glad to say that has never happened to me and I guess part of the reason is that I write quite a varied mix of things, as well as trying to ring the changes while working on existing projects.

Because of a million other projects, I haven't got round to updating the reviews page on my website as regards The Crooked Shore, but here is some of that reaction I mentioned:

‘Detective Chief Inspector Hannah Scarlett's latest cold case involves the disappearance of a waitress from Bowness more than 20 years ago. The man charged with her murder was found not guilty but committed suicide thereafter. Now, on the anniversary of his death, his son has gone and done the same thing: walked out into Morecambe Bay and drowned himself. Meanwhile, the real killer is planning more midsummer mischief. This is the eighth of Martin Edwards's Lake District novels. As always a satisfying mystery is played out with lashings of local colour and history. Favourite line: "Through the trees peeped the dome of the eighteenth-century Round House, mocked by Wordsworth as a ‘tea canister in a shop window’”.’

Mark Sanderson, The Times Crime Club


'A splendidly imaginative plot will have you guessing and gasping until the very end.’

Mat Coward, Morning Star

‘Well-drawn characters…Readers old and new will be well served by The Crooked Shore, which delivers twists and turns against an evocative backdrop of the Furness Peninsula…The Lakeland feel is heightened throughout with fun, fictionalised locales…Martin is something of a crime writer’s crime writer. Plaudits from Lee Child, Peter Robinson, and Ann Cleeves testify to the esteem he’s held in by his peers. The Crooked Shore is playful, creative, and solid storytelling from a writer in tight control of his material.

Will Smith, Cumbria Life Book of the Month

‘One of Martin’s strengths is that even when writing a series of books, he never seems content to write the same book twice, and there is a central idea in The Crooked Shore that I am not convinced that I’ve seen before. For a long time reading the book, I wasn’t convinced of what direction the plot was moving in…All in all, this is an engrossing read with some very clever ideas running through it…an excellent novel, one of the very best in the series to date, and easily one of the best police procedural (which is sort of is) that I’ve read in a very long time.’

Steve Barge, In Search of the Classic Mystery 

‘There is a splendidly labyrinthine plot and a great cast of characters, many with secrets in their past….I raced through this book and enjoyed it enormously. There were points where I thought I knew where things were going, but I was wrong-footed at pretty much every turn and the end came as a complete surprise. All this and a visit to the Lake District. What more could you ask for? Except, of course, for the next instalment.’

Christine Poulson, A Reading Life