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Bonnier Zaffre, 14 June 2018. ISBN: 978-1-78576-414-1 (PB)
A new novel from Martyn Waites is something of an event in crime
fiction circles, although he was never far away even when his name wasn't on
the cover; for the past few years his alter ego Tania Carver has been enjoying
great success. But now he's back under his own name, exposing the dark
underbelly of another popular tourist destination.
The Old Religion is set in north Cornwall, better known for
picturesque tea rooms, glorious coastal scenery and a history of fishing and
mining than for vicious crime. But in Waites's Cornwall, drug dealing has taken
the place of tin mining, and even the tourism that replaced the fishing is on
the decline. There's a general air of decay and depression, largely brought
about by the fallout from Brexit.
All the main characters seem
to be in thrall to something. Ex-copper turned barman Tom Kilgannon is haunted
by a past which could catch up with him at any time. Teenage Lila is trying to
escape from the traveller community she has become caught up in, and Kai, one
of its more naïve members, is obsessed with her. Noah, the community leader, is
under the thumb of the mysterious Morrigan, as is the entire village of St
Petroc, including the eccentric Pirate John, who isn't as batty as people
And when a lad on a surfing
holiday nearby disappears without trace, everyone seems to be involved one way
It's all set against a dark,
brooding background of the kind of power-wielding and sinister ritualism that
gives paganism a bad name, and it's down to Tom Kilgannon to set it all to
rights. Which he does, but not without treading down some sordid and convoluted
paths, sometimes literally.
There's a cast of characters
who are all distinct and vivid, right down to the farmers and surfers who are
only bit-part players. Tom Kilgannon is perhaps the most shadowy of them – but
even that is as it should be. He is an incomer to the tight-knit community, and
since the ending suggests that a series might be on the cards, there's clearly
a lot to learn about him which Waites is saving for future volumes. And the not
so pretty north Cornwall he creates is a rich seam to mine. I look forward to
Reviewer: Lynne Patrick
Martyn Waiteswas born in Newcastle Upon Tyne. He trained at the Birmingham School of
Speech and Drama and worked as an actor for many years before becoming a
writer. He has been nominated for every major British crime fiction award and
has enjoyed international commercial success with eight novels written under
the name Tania Carver.
Lynne Patrick has been a writer ever since she could pick up a pen,
and has enjoyed success with short stories, reviews and feature journalism, but
never, alas, with a novel. She crossed to the dark side to become a publisher
for a few years, and is proud to have launched several careers which are now
burgeoning. She lives on the edge of rural Derbyshire in a house groaning with
books, about half of them crime fiction.