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Tuesday 17 May 2016

‘Akin to Murder’ by Alanna Knight

Published by Allison & Busby,
21 January 2016.
: 978-0749019198

Edinburgh, 1864. The newly-promoted Sergeant Faro is content with his life. His beloved wife, Lizzie, has carried this coming child to full term, and his stepson, Vince, is at last beginning to accept him. Then Vince finds the old bookseller he helps out dead...

Having rounded off her Victorian detective series with Inspector Jeremy Faro retired, and happy at last with his companion, Imogen Crowe, Knight has returned to write about his early life, and Akin to Murder is the third of these ‘prequels’. It’s ingeniously plotted, weaving the mysterious Charlie that Vince befriends with a missing housemaid, an old lady’s coffin being opened to reveal stones, and an escaped murderer that Faro’s boss, the unpleasant Inspector Gosse, is determined to capture. We learn more about Lizzie’s early life and her relationship with Faro. Faro himself is a likeable policeman, with no illusions about what the job entails, in the days of public hangings, but a determination to use his skills to make sure justice is done. In this case, he’s under extra pressure, as both his marriage and his career are at risk. Other characters also come across vividly: Lizzie, who just wants a quiet life; the determined Lady Belmuir and her rascally brother; and Faro’s mentor, Macfie, who ends up linked to the plot, in a neat twist. Above all this, there’s the feel of that long-gone Edinburgh, with its cobbled streets and the ever-present sound of hammering as new suburbs spread out from the town centre. In this novel, Faro also takes the new railway to visit the outlying towns, like Musselburgh (my own birthplace, so I was particularly pleased to see it figure in the story). The dialogue is convincingly period, yet still pacey, and the plot fast-moving.

A treat for Inspector Faro’s many fans, and a good place to start if you enjoy historical crime, and haven’t met him yet... or you might like to go back to the first ‘prequel’, Murder in Paradise, where chasing after an old adversary leads Constable Faro to an encounter with one of Scotland’s most enigmatic characters, the ‘not proven’ murderess Madeleine Smith.
Reviewer: Marsali Taylor

Alanna Knight is one of the most popular authors in UK libraries. Named as one of The Times’ “100 Masters of Crime”, she is a leading crime writer with three historical crime series: the Victorian detective Inspector Jeremy Faro, lady investigator Rose McQuinn, and time-traveller Tam Eildor.
She has published 75 works which include romance, thrillers, historical novels and non-fiction. Alanna is an authority on Robert Louis Stevenson and she has written true crime, 'how to write' guides and biographies.
Hon President of Edinburgh Writers' Club, Honorary President and founder member of Scottish Association of Writers, member of Society of Authors and Crime Writers' Association, and Mystery People.  She appears regularly at Edinburgh International Book Festival and many other literary events.

 Marsali Taylor grew up near Edinburgh, and came to Shetland as a newly-qualified teacher. She is currently a part-time teacher on Shetland's scenic west side, living with her husband and two Shetland ponies. Marsali is a qualified STGA tourist-guide who is fascinated by history, and has published plays in Shetland's distinctive dialect, as well as a history of women's suffrage in Shetland. She's also a keen sailor who enjoys exploring in her own 8m yacht, and an active member of her local drama group.  Marsali also does a regular monthly column for the Mystery People e-zine.

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