Frey and McGray return for a second outing in de Muriel’s new novel. The story opens in January 1889 with a brutal killing at the Edinburgh lunatic asylum, and the investigative duo are immediately involved, as McGray’s own sister is also a patient there. The first in the series, The Strings of Murder, introduced the unlikely pairing of the gruff ‘nine nails’ McGray and the exiled Londoner, Frey, and in their second investigation, as before, McGray tends to speak with his fists first, while Frey is more cautious. The majority of the action in this book takes place outside the policemen’s jurisdiction as they chase a suspect onto a train and end up in Lancashire. Just as in their previous case, there is a supernatural element as the men find themselves the target of a dangerous secret society of witches and a curse that stretches back through the centuries to the time of the Pendle witch trials.
This is a fast-paced, well-researched and thoroughly spellbinding read. The mismatched pair is as entertaining as Holmes and Watson at their best, and the supernatural element brings an entertaining twist. There are a number of insightful moments of character development which hint at further episodes to come, and while the book is clearly a sequel to the first in the series it can easily be read as a stand-alone. Published by Michael Joseph and available in paperback now.
I reviewed this book for The Historical Novel Society magazine. You can see the original review online HERE