The Strings of Murder by Oscar de Muriel #review

I am delighted to be sharing my review for Strings of Murder by Oscar de Muriel. This is the first book in the Frey & McGray Mystery series. If you like Gothic fiction then you really need to check out this series, this first book was brilliant!

Let’s have a look and see what it is all about…

1888: a violinist is brutally murdered in his Edinburgh home. Fearing a national panic over a copycat Jack the Ripper, Scotland Yard send Inspector Ian Frey. Frey reports to Detective “Nine-Nails” McGray, local legend and exact opposite of the foppish English Inspector. McGray’s tragic past has driven him to superstition, but even Frey must admit that this case seems beyond belief…

There was no way in or out of the locked music studio. And there are black magic symbols on the floor. The dead man’s maid swears there were three musicians playing before the murder. And the suspects all talk of a cursed violin once played by the Devil himself.


Inspector Frey has always been a man of reason—but the longer this investigation goes on, the more his grasp on reason seems to be slipping…

Every now and again I really like to read a good gothic novel. I came across this one on Amazon and decided to give it a go as it seemed to have an old investigative style of murder mystery to it and a touch of superstition. It caught my eye and I am so glad it did as it is a fabulously gothic thrillery read!

Enter Frey and Gray, they are just two wonderful and very different characters, very chalk and cheese. The setting is 1888, Edinburgh and Inspector Frey is sent from London to assist Detective “Nine Nails” McGray in the mysterious and bloody death of a violinist.

Frey is very much a no nonsense type of guy, strictly about the facts. A sharp dresser and follower of proper etiquette. Now then, Mcgray, you could not get much further in the opposite direction than him. He is the master of all knowledge when it comes to the occult and superstition. He definitely follows his own style when it comes to his fashion sense. On meeting for the first time, these two clash! The exasperation from the both of them shows, though more so from McGray, as it would not be fitting for Frey to give such a show of distaste, but believe me he does have his moments. The dynamics between the two are so good and kept me entertained at the various asides. The seriousness of their work does however allow them to find a sort of compromise, or should I say they start to form a somewhat professional respect as the story continues.

Over the course of the story I got to know more about the individual characters and their own stories. Frey and McGray have very intriguing backgrounds that gradually emerged. As this is the first in the series I thought there was a good foundation laid for building further n their characters and filling in more about them.

The timing of this book is at the time Jack the Ripper is at large, so why would a London send one of it’s investigators to Scotland when the death of Mary Kelly has just occured? Having the mention of such an infamous villain at the beginning of this story helps to add to the tone that is to be set as the story continues. A story of murder and malevolent intent.

Their case for the violinist is one that is also bloody and macabre. It gets them scratching their heads at this closed room murder. Who did it? Why was it done? And more importantly…how was it done? The intrigue through the questioning and deducing kept me on my toes as the two made their way through their investigations.

If you are looking for a wonderfully vivid and atmospheric gothic thriller then you really should cast your eye at this author. There are more books in this series and I am so looking forward to getting to see what Frey & McGray get involved in next and also hopefully learning more about what makes them tick.

This book gets a Highly Recommended from me!

Many thanks for reading my post, a like or share would be amazing 🙂 xx

#BookReview Dr Jekyll & Mr Seek by Anthony O’Neill pub by @bwpublishing

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“Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Seek” by Anthony O’Neill is available in paperback or as an eBook.  I strongly suggest buying the paperback, the cover is beautiful.  Published by Black And White Publishing.

Synopsis:

The Strange Case of Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde Continues…

Seven years after the death of Edward Hyde, a stylish gentleman shows up in foggy London claiming to be Dr Henry Jekyll. Only Mr Utterson, Jekyll’s faithful lawyer and confidant, knows that he must be an impostor – because Jekyll was Hyde. But as the man goes about charming Jekyll’s friends and reclaiming his estate, and as the bodies of potential challengers start piling up, Utterson is left fearing for his life … and questioning his own sanity.

This brilliantly imagined and beautifully written sequel to one of literature’s greatest masterpieces perfectly complements the original work. And where the original was concerned with the duality of man, this sequel deals with the possibility of identity theft of the most audacious kind. Can it really be that this man who looks and acts so precisely like Dr Henry Jekyll is an imposter?

Praise for Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Seek:

“A strange and wondrous tale – beautifully told.”
LIN ANDERSON

“Fiendishly ingenious.”
RONALD FRAME

“O’Neill infuses the narrative with suspense and meticulously researched detail. A gripping novel.”
KAITE WELSH

“A clever and entertaining sequel that will leave Stevenson fans delighted.”
KEVIN MacNEIL

“Dazzling in its own right.”
LESLEY McDOWELL

My Thoughts:

Anthony O’Neill has continued where R.L.Stevenson left off with his version of a possible next story in the infamous Jekyll & Hyde classic.  It is set seven years after the death of Mr. Edward Hyde.  When Dr. Henry Jekyll reappears, it is lawyer and confidante Mr Gabriel Utterson who is the only one aware that Jekyll and Hyde are one in the same person.  As Utterson was witness to the death of Hyde he knows that Jekyll must be an impostor.  Utterson takes it upon himself to prove this man to be false, a difficult task as Jekyll, in Utterson’s opinion, is  ingratiating himself with his Jekyll’s old friends and colleagues, they believe the man they see before them to be the one they knew several years ago.

First off the cover for this book is beautiful, a simple, effective and almost an unassuming cover, but at the same time eye-catching with its reflective gold and embossing.  Secondly it is a good book, that I did enjoy, but at the same time felt it lacked something in the prose that Stevenson had.  I am a lover of classics and especially of the old gothic classics, and when I first chose this book I wasn’t sure which approach the author would take. The Jekyll and Hyde characters are notorious, infamous, as well as famous, with a strong following.  Would he try to emulate Stevenson or via his own route?  This is very much a contemporary gothic story and should be approached as such.

Once I realised it was going to be set in a contemporary style, I really enjoyed the story.  I thought it was well described and thought out.  The characters are taken on a plot that is deep, dark and twisted.  O’Neill has captured the atmosphere of old Victorian London very well and also in giving some good character descriptions.  The plot still has a similar basis of a person having two sides, and has been incorporated into this plot.

This is a book that I pretty much read in one sitting, it was a fun and intriguing read that captured me within the first couple of chapters.  I feel O’Neill has kept true to some of the style of Stevenson, but as I have already mentioned, has a modern feel to it.

I would recommend this to readers of contemporary gothic fiction, as well as mystery readers within a Victorian England setting.  It is a good story that gives an interpretation on what could happen next.

About the Author:

_IMG_4251Anthony O’Neill is the son of an Irish policeman and an Australian stenographer.

He was born in Melbourne and lives in Edinburgh.

He is the author of Scheherazade, a revisionist Arabian Nights epic; The Lamplighter, a psychological horror novel set in Victorian Scotland; The Empire of Eternity, a history-mystery involving Napoleon Bonaparte and the early years of Egyptology; The Unscratchables, a Swiftian satire featuring dog and cat detectives; and The Dark Side, a crime novel set on the far side of the moon.

Book Details:

  • Paperback: 256 pages
  • Publisher: Black and White Publishing (1 Sept. 2017)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1785301314
  • ISBN-13: 978-1785301315

Available for purchase from Amazon UK  | Amazon US  |  Black & White Publishing

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