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Saturday, 27 July 2019

‘Hanging Murder’ By A. J. Wright

Published by Endeavour Quill,
29 April 2019.
ISBN: 978-1-911445-75-3

It is 1894 and Simeon Crosby is on his way to becoming a national celebrity. Crosby is a retired executioner who tours the country giving talks about his career. However, the lecture tour is only the start of Crosby’s attempts to capitalise on his former occupation, with the aid of journalist Ralph Batsford, Crosby intends to write a book about his life as an executioner. Although Crosby’s talk includes many grim stories about the road to the gallows and he will tell darkly humorous stories about misadventures that embarrassed other executioners, there is one story he will never tell. That is how, when he was an executioner, the trapdoor failed to open, and the hysterical prisoner was reprieved and returned to the cells. This story is made darker because the prisoner subsequently escaped and murdered another woman.

When Crosby, accompanied by his wife and brother, reach Wigan as the next stop on his lecture tour, the city is divided. Many people are eager to see the famous man and hear his macabre stories and his talk is fully booked, but opponents of capital punishment are also present and organising a protest. For the Wigan police force, Crosby’s visit means extra work and a drain on resources, especially as the ambitious Chief Constable, Captain Bell, is determined to ensure that his career is not damaged by any disorder during the retired hangman’s visit. Bell gives the task of maintaining security to Detective Sergeant Michael Brennan, and despite protesters, journalists and an escaped madman, Brennan believes he has everything under control. Then, without warning, two deaths by violence occur, and he must turn from security duty to the thing he does best, investigating murder and establishing the link between the two victims, before any more people die.

Hanging Murder is part of the author’s series of Lancashire Detective Mysteries, and the city is very much a character in the story, with well-drawn descriptions, authentic historical details and realistic dialogue, which are all skilfully weaved into the narrative. The plot is interesting and the characters of Brennan and his hapless constable, Freddie Jaggery, are believable and engaging. A thoroughly enjoyable read for anybody who enjoys historical crime fiction with a dark, realistic edge.
Reviewer: Carol Westron
A. J. Wright has been shortlisted for the CWA Debut Dagger Award and won the Dundee International Fiction Prize for Act of Murder. Striking Murder was longlisted for the CWA Endeavour Historical Dagger. He lives in Croston in Lancashire.

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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