Sunday 12 April 2020

BLOG TOUR: Mortmain Hall - Martin Edwards

ENGLAND, 1930. Grieving widows are a familiar sight on London's Necropolis Railway. So when an elegant young woman in a black veil boards the funeral train, nobody guesses her true purpose.

But Rachel Savernake is not one of the mourners. She hopes to save a life – the life of a man who is supposed to be cold in the grave. But then a suspicious death on the railway track spurs her on to investigate a sequence of baffling mysteries: a death in a blazing car; a killing in a seaside bungalow; a tragic drowning in a frozen lake. Rachel believes that the cases are connected – but what possible link can there be?

Rich, ruthless and obsessed with her own dark notions of justice, she will not rest until she has discovered the truth. To find the answers to her questions she joins a house party on the eerie and remote North Yorkshire coast at Mortmain Hall, an estate. Her inquiries are helped – and sometimes hindered – by the impetuous young journalist Jacob Flint and an eccentric female criminologist with a dangerous fascination with perfect crimes...

Mortmain Hall is at once a gripping thriller and a classic whodunit puzzle: a Golden Age Gothic mystery, the finest novel yet from a modern master of crime writing.

What did I think?

I love a good old-fashioned murder mystery so I was very eager to read Mortmain Hall.  I thought the cover was very alluring and gives the impression of a Golden Age mystery, although the whirls and swirls also resembled the tangle my brain got into whilst reading.

I have to be completely honest and say that I really struggled with this book at first; there are just so many characters that I was completely overwhelmed.  I was so confused that I stopped reading at 60% and started it all over again, but made sure to write down many of the character names the second time around (I didn't write them all down but still had a huge list of over 40 characters).  Of course trying to concentrate on reading during a global pandemic doesn't help, especially when the story is so intricate.  I can say that it was definitely worth persevering with as the last third of the story is brilliant when all of the tangled threads unravel for the big reveal.

Mortmain Hall is the second book in the Rachel Savernake series, of which Gallows Court is the first.  As I had jumped in at book 2, I wondered if reading the books in order might help alleviate some of the confusion over the myriad characters.   So unless your brain can cope with such a huge cast of characters, I would definitely recommend reading Gallows Court first.

I loved the Cluefinder list at the end, listing 30 clues to the plot that were hidden within the narrative of the book.  I'm a really poor detective as I didn't pick up on any of them but I have to applaud Martin Edwards' inventiveness in hiding these clues in the book.  It was very eye-opening to read them at the end to see what I'd missed and it was a fine way to pay homage to detective novels of the Golden Age.

Intricate, clever and inventive, Mortmain Hall really does have the feel of a Golden Age detective novel.  Martin Edwards has really embraced the writing style of the era which results in a very authentic read.  

I chose to read an ARC and this is my honest and unbiased opinion.

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