Martin Edwards

Gallows Court

"It felt as though Edwards was channelling Christie and Sayers..."


Sooty, sulphurous, and malign: no woman should be out on a night like this. A spate of violent deaths – the details too foul to print – has horrified the capital and the smog-bound streets are deserted. But Rachel Savernake – the enigmatic daughter of a notorious hanging judge – is no ordinary woman. To Scotland Yard's embarrassment, she solved the Chorus Girl Murder, and now she's on the trail of another killer.

Jacob Flint, a young newspaperman temporarily manning The Clarion's crime desk, is looking for the scoop that will make his name. He's certain there is more to the Miss Savernake's amateur sleuthing than meets the eye. He's not the only one. His predecessor on the crime desk was of a similar mind – not that Mr Betts is ever expected to regain consciousness after that unfortunate accident...

Flint's pursuit of Rachel Savernake will draw him ever-deeper into a labyrinth of deception and corruption. Murder-by-murder, he'll be swept ever-closer to its dark heart – to that ancient place of execution, where it all began and where it will finally end: Gallows Court.

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As always, Edwards writes a book that grips you from page one. Immediately, you have a strange scenario where you question what exactly is going on. Is the guilty party really guilty? Are others involved to cover their tracks or are they really pillars of justice? As with the London fog that engulfs the city streets, Edwards swirls a fog around his characters so you are never sure which side of the law they are playing on. This method of smoke and mirrors is perfect for making one turn those pages faster than a speeding Phantom. Rachel Savernake is the lynchpin in all that is going on, a woman who works within the shadows. Rachel Savernake is no damsel in distress and can easily look after herself, so do not think for one moment being a woman makes her weak. You turn your back on her at your peril. Edwards scatters diary entries throughout his novel, but do they really give the truth about Rachel Savernake? Again, this makes the fog denser and difficult to see through, making my brain work hard to try and see the truth through the pea souper. Any author will tell a fledgling writer to read, read and read… and that is exactly what Edwards has done with his work with the British Library. He has immersed himself in the 30’s and 40’s, and by doing so has constructed a novel that could well have been written during that era, rather than ninety years later. The sounds and smells of London hit you and transport you back. ‘Gallows Court’ is no pastiche, but a homage to the glittering Golden Era. It felt as though Edwards was channelling Christie and Sayers as if these two giants had collaborated on a novel together. Here we have secret societies amongst high society, which brought to me the flavour of Christie’s, ‘Seven Dials Mystery’ alongside the wit and observation of Sayer’s eyes and mind. ‘Gallows Court’ is a brilliant read with an enigmatic heroine… or is she really so heroic???

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