As a founder member of Mystery Women in 1997, promoting Crime Fiction has always been my passion.
Following the closure of Mystery Women, a new group was formed on 30th January 2012 promoting crime fiction.
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Head of Zeus, 2 April 2020. ISBN: 978-1-78854612-6 (HB)
What Martin Edwards doesn’t know about Golden Age crime fiction would
probably fit on the back of a first-class stamp, so it comes as no surprise
that when he sets a novel in 1930 and locates a large part of it in an English
country house, every detail rings with period authenticity.
That’s not all. Other
locations include a sleazy Soho nightclub with connections in high places, a
village pub bursting with quirkiness, and a railway carriage complete with the
net luggage rack and bench seating which may be live in the memory of, ahem,
more mature readers. There’s even a second country house with wild animals in
the grounds, a trend which was only just beginning at the time.
The characters all have
history in the best tradition of the sub-genre. Centre stage are Jacob Flint, a
sharp-eyed crime reporter with ambition, Leonora Dobell, an eccentric
self-styled criminologist with a war-damaged husband, and Rachel Savernake,
independent and fiercely intelligent daughter of a notorious judge now
deceased. Also involved are a reluctant civil servant, an army officer with an
agenda and three people acquitted of murder – not forgetting the three
Truemans, Rachel Savernake’s trusted servants who are more like family to her.
After a careful laying down
of story threads littered with well-disguised clues in the best Agatha Christie
tradition, all the leading players head north to rural Yorkshire. Leonora has
invited the acquitted murderers and Rachel to her family home, Mortmain Hall,
where, naturally, the threads are become even more knotted until Rachel
untangles them and initiates that genre highlight the big drawing-room
With meticulous and detailed
research, scratch-them-and-they-bleed characterisation and locations you can
smell and touch, Edwards has added his own unique style to a format beloved of
Golden Age fans. The result quite different from the contemporary Lake District
series his readers may find more familiar, but nevertheless a masterclass.
Mortmain Hall is the second novel featuring Rachel Savernake and
Jacob Flint. They make a formidable team, ably abetted by the three Truemans,
and are set fair to add a whole new dimension, not to mention a new contingent
of readers, to a sub-genre which already has plenty of aficionados.
Reviewer: Lynne Patrick
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. In 2007 he was
appointed the Archivist of the Crime Writers Association and in 2011 he was
appointed the Archivist of the Detection Club. For more information visit:
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 in Oxfordshire in a house groaning with books, about half
of them crime fiction.