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Friday 14 December 2018

‘Gallows Court’ by Martin Edwards

Published by Head of Zeus,
4 September 2018.
ISBN: 978-1-78854607-2 (HB)

It is 1930 and Jacob Flint is curious about the strange and violent events that are occurring in London. Jacob is a young reporter, and, at the moment, he is in charge of the Crime Desk, because Mr Betts, the experienced reporter who is usually the chief crime reporter, is lying in hospital in a coma, after being struck by a vehicle in the thick London fog. Everybody assumes that his injuries are the result of an accident: that Betts had stumbled on the kerb and that the driver was unaware of having hit him. Jacob is not sure that Betts’ injuries were accidental. He thinks that they were connected with the fact that Betts had been investigating Rachel Savernake, a wealthy young woman who has recently arrived in London. Rachel is the daughter of the late Judge Savernake, a harsh judge who had become insane, which forced him to retire to his secluded island home. Rachel had lived there, secluded from society, but after her father’s death, she moved to London with a trio of faithful, long term servants. However, instead of entering society she lives a mysterious and relatively isolated life.

Jacob is interested in Rachel because she had contacted the police and told them the identity of the killer of a young woman who had been brutally butchered. Because the man she named was socially prominent they dismissed the information, until the man in question committed suicide and they discovered evidence of his guilt. As a reporter Jacob believes that Rachel could be the source of an exciting news story; as a man, he finds her intriguing and somewhat frightening. However, he is determined to continue probing to discover the truth. Another wealthy and socially prominent man commits suicide, leaving a letter that admits committing another murder of a young woman. Thanks to an anonymous tip, Jacob is the first reporter on the scene, which is a great boost to his career. He finds himself drawn into a far greater and more dangerous mystery than he had anticipated, which dredges up the unsavoury truth about some very eminent people and threatens his own life and the lives of those around him. Soon Jacob realises that there is nobody he can trust, especially not the enigmatic and ruthless Rachel Savernake.

Gallows Court is the first novel by Martin Edwards that is set in the 1930s and it clearly demonstrates the author’s mastery of the period, with many fascinating details of the music and entertainment of the time. The plot is complex but satisfying. Jacob Flint is an engaging and likeable protagonist, and Rachel Savernake is an intriguing one. Gallows Court is an enjoyable book that brings the 1930s to life and looks at that restless, inter-war decade in a new and fascinating way. It is a book well worth reading and which I would recommend.
Reviewer: Carol Westron

Martin Edwards was born 7 July 1955 at Knutsford, Cheshire and educated in Northwich and at Balliol College, Oxford University, taking a first-class honours degree in law. He trained as a solicitor in Leeds and moved to Liverpool on qualifying in 1980. He published his first legal article at the age of 25 and his first book, about legal aspects of buying a business computer at 27, before spending just over 30 years as a partner of a law firm, where he is now a consultant. He is married to Helena with two children (Jonathan and Catherine) and lives in Lymm. A member of the Murder Squad a collective of crime writers. In 2007 he was appointed the Archivist of the Crime Writers Association and in 2011 he was appointed the Archivist of the Detection Club. Martin is currently chair of the CWA. For more information visit:

Carol Westron is a successful short story writer and a Creative Writing teacher.  She is the moderator for the cosy/historical crime panel, The Deadly Dames.  Her crime novels are set both in contemporary and Victorian times.  The Terminal Velocity of Cats the first in her Scene of Crimes novels, was published July 2013. Carol recently gave an interview to Mystery People. To read the interview click on the link below.

To read a review of Carol latest book Strangers and Angels click on the title.

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