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Tuesday, 20 September 2016

‘The Devil’s Daughters’ by Diana Bretherick

Published by Orion books,
11 August 2016. 
ISBN 978 1 4091 50312

In this sequel to City of Devils Cesare Lombroso and James Murray are plunged into an investigation involving Satanic rituals, ancient Egyptian funerary rites and a haunted abbey.

The novel, set in 1888, opens in Edinburgh with James, recently returned from Turin, burying his father.  James and his younger sister Lucy regret his passing as they attend his funeral but their devout and dour Aunt Agnes has eschewed the ceremony because of a scandal surrounding the deceased Dr Murray. 

The period of mourning is interrupted when James receives a letter from Turin, in which his former lover, Sofia, entreats his help.  James, driven by his continued but apparently hopeless love for Sofia, is determined to go once more to Turin and Aunt Agnes reluctantly agrees that Lucy may accompany him provided that she is chaperoned by the middle-aged, and delightfully named, Miss Euphemia Trott.

Following their arrival, James is reacquainted with, amongst others, his tutor, Professor Lombroso, a character based on the real life “…father of modern criminology”.  Lombroso is engaged on a project that he believes, “… will shake the very foundations of criminal anthropology…”  and James agrees to assist him but must also investigate the disappearance of Sofia’s cousin, Chiara. 

It quickly becomes apparent that Chiara is just one of several young women who have gone missing over the previous months.  The discovery of one of the missing girls who appears to have been ritually slaughtered precedes further gruesome findings as the protagonists, and the reader, are led and misled through a thrilling narrative.

The research that underpins the novel makes the gripping tale even more interesting and the Author’s Note, at the end of the book, provides a fascinating description of aspects of the life and work of the real Cesare Lombroso. 

I heartily recommend this captivating historical mystery and look forward to reading more of Diana Bretherick’s writing.
Reviewer: Dorothy Marshall-Gent

Diana Bretherick’s was born in Kenilworth, Warwickshire. Her experiences in working in criminal justice have given her insight into the workings of the criminal mind. She has honed this in her criminological studies, attaining an M.A in Criminology in 1999 and a PhD in 2006. She has now turned her attention to crime fiction, producing her first novel, City of Devils, in 2013, the result of her MA in Creative Writing. She is currently working on her second PhD in Creative Writing.  Diana also runs crime writing workshops and regularly performs readings of her work including short stories with a supernatural element. Her hobbies, when she’s not scaring people senseless, are eating, drinking and generally having a good time.

Dot Marshall-Gent worked in the emergency services for twenty years first as a police officer, then as a paramedic and finally as a fire control officer before graduating from King’s College, London as a teacher of English in her mid-forties.  She completed a M.A. in Special and Inclusive Education at the Institute of Education, London and now teaches part-time and writes mainly about educational issues.  Dot sings jazz and country music and plays guitar, banjo and piano as well as being addicted to reading mystery and crime fiction.  

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