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Monday 23 October 2023

‘Sepulchre Street’ by Martin Edwards.

Published by Head of Zeus,
11 May 2023.
ISBN: 978-1-80110025-0 (HB)

London, 1930s, and Rachel Savernake is attending an exhibition which features live models dressed as famous killers. Artist Damaris Gethrin asks her to ‘solve my murder’ – then dies on the guillotine. A clever murder, or suicide? And if it’s suicide, what did she mean by ‘solve my murder?’

This gripping opening scene takes us straight into a clever plot in classic Golden Age style – Edwards even includes a Cluefinder at the end, pointing out key clues to solving the plot. Rachel Savernake is a wealthy, intelligent woman, rather aloof, whose servants are friends from her difficult childhood. Her sidekick is Jacob Flint, a Fleet Street reporter who was also at the opening – but his job was to find out more about the flamboyant Kiki de Villiers. He’s also wondering if Rachel was really attracted to investment adviser and racing car enthusiast Captain Malam. Other suspects are a washed-up songwriter and Malam’s ex-nurse sister-in-law. Then there’s the unpleasant Major Whitlow, DSO, who’s planning an assassination. As Flint is trying to persuade Scotland Yard to protect Kiki de Villiers, Rachel is putting on different personas to get closer to the suspects in the case. 30s crime usually includes a love story, and this one  – if it is one – is subtly, plausibly sketched.

The novel is a wonderful homage to the Golden Age. After the dazzling opening, the tightly knit plot moves round different viewpoints. The blurb describes it as ‘as much a thriller as a murder mystery’ and the plot certainly races along, with hair-breadth escapes and a cast of low-life thugs, everyone deceiving everyone else, and, yes, another gruesome murder as well as clever use of actual events (I particularly enjoyed the foreshadowing in the Very Important Person strand) and nuggets of historical information. The settings are atmospheric and the writing enjoyable – in short, this book is a classic crime treat.

There are mentions of previous books, but no spoilers – however, if you like your series in order, then Sepulchre Street is book 4; the first is Gallows Court.

A cleverly plotted, witty whodunnit which transports you to a roller-coaster ride in 1930s London.
Reviewer: Marsali Taylor

Martin Edwards is the author of 21 novels, including the Lake District Mysteries and the Rachel Savernake books, and also an acclaimed history of crime fiction, The Life of Crime. He received the CWA Diamond Dagger for the sustained excellence of his work. He has also won the Edgar, Agatha, CrimeFest H.R.F. Keating and Macavity awards, the Short Story Dagger and Dagger in the Library, plus the Poirot award for his contribution to the genre.


Marsali Taylor grew up near Edinburgh, and came to Shetland as a newly-qualified teacher. She is currently a part-time teacher on Shetland's scenic west side, living with her husband and two Shetland ponies. Marsali is a qualified STGA tourist-guide who is fascinated by history, and has published plays in Shetland's distinctive dialect, as well as a history of women's suffrage in Shetland. She's also a keen sailor who enjoys exploring in her own 8m yacht, and an active member of her local drama group. 

 Click on the title to read a review of her recent book
A Shetland Winter Mystery

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