Welcome to today’s stop on the blog tour for Blackstone Fell by Martin Edwards. My thanks to Sophie at Ransom PR for inviting me to take part in the tour and to Head of Zeus for my digital review copy via NetGalley. Do hop over to Instagram and check out the post by my tour buddy for today, Jan at Jan_is_reading.
About the Book
Yorkshire, 1606. A man vanishes from a locked gatehouse in a remote village. 300 years later, it happens again.
Autumn 1930. Journalist Nell Fagan knows there’s only one person who can get to the bottom of this mystery: Rachael Savernake. But someone wants Nell dead, and soon, while investigating a series of recent deaths at Blackstone Sanatorium, she’s missing entirely.
Looking for answers, Rachel travels to lonely Blackstone Fell, with its eerie moor, deadly waters and sinister tower. With help from Jacob Flint – who’s determined to expose a fraudulent medium at a séance – Rachel will risk her life to bring an end to the disappearances…
Format: Hardback (416 pages) Publisher: Head of Zeus
Publication date: 1st September 2022 Genre: Historical Fiction, Crime
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Blackstone Fell is the third book in Martin Edwards’s Rachel Savernake series. I haven’t read either of the earlier books in the series – Gallows Court and Mortmain Hall – but I don’t think it is essential to have done so in order to enjoy Blackstone Fell. If anything waiting for the first appearance in person of Rachel Savernake, having had snippets of information about her from other characters, only increased my curiosity. And wasn’t it worth the wait because she makes a fascinating central character, a sort of female Sherlock Holmes (but without the pipe).
Rachel is a rich young woman whose early life is shrouded in mystery (although it will be more familiar to readers of the earlier books). As Rachel admits, she loves the thrill of the unexpected. ‘Puzzles, mysteries – the more outlandish, the better.’ She guards her privacy with ‘a ruthless zeal’ and is a formidable adversary. The members of Rachel’s household – Martha Trueman, Martha’s brother Clifford and Clifford’s wife Hetty – are devoted to her; not so much servants as a ‘tight-knit cabal’. Rachel is good at utilising their talents as part of her investigations whether that’s gathering gossip or conducting a little subterfuge.
I confess it took me a while to familiarise myself with the different inhabitants of Blackstone Fell and understand the layout of the village. (The book contains a map but this wasn’t included in my advance digital copy.) Safe to say there are the usual features of small village life: gossip, petty rivalries and tall stories exchanged at the bar of the public house.
The book has a number of different strands including those inexplicable disappearances from Blackstone Lodge, efforts to expose a medium who is preying upon the loved ones of the deceased and a series of deaths from natural causes (or were they?) at a local sanatorium. Throw in some religous zealotry, infidelity, poison pen letters, financial skulduggery, greed and thwarted ambition, and you have a heady mix all set against the backdrop of a remote location. ‘The brooding moors, the deadly marsh, Blackstone Leap.’
Blackstone Fell contains many of the elements of classic crime fiction including a denoument at which, with all the suspects gathered together, Rachel reveals the solutions to what turn out to be more than one mystery. A neat touch is the addition of a ‘cluefinder’ at the end of the book (apparently all the fashion during the so-called ‘Golden Age’ of detective fiction) in which the author identifies the pages on which clues appeared. Well done if you spotted any of these because most of them passed me by, but then I don’t have the observational skills, breadth of knowledge or deductive ability of Rachel Savernake.
Blackstone Fell will appeal to fans of classic crime fiction (think Agatha Christie and Dorothy L. Sayers), those who like to be immersed in the milieu of an earlier age and who enjoy the challenge of unravelling an intricate plot.
In three words: Intricate, clever, intriguing
Try something similar: Dark Dawn Over Steep House by M.R.C. Kasasian
About the Author
Martin Edwards has won the Edgar, Agatha, H.R.F. Keating, Macavity, Poirot and Dagger awards as well as being shortlisted for the Theakston’s Prize. He is President of the Detection Club, a former Chair of the Crime Writers’ Association and consultant to the British Library’s bestselling crime classics series. In 2020 he was awarded the Diamond Dagger for his outstanding contribution to crime fiction.