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Showing 1-10 of 14 reviews(5 star). Show all reviews
on May 17, 2001
This Debut is set in 1921 Surrey. When a family and their servants are killed in their home in the Surrey countryside, Detective Inspector John Madden of Scotland Yard is assigned the task of finding the killer(s). The entire country is shocked at the multiple murders, a virtually unknown event at the time. Madden is baffled because he can't find a motive, the murderer left no clues at the scene and the press and his superiors are pressing for a quick arrest. With painstaking attention to every detail, Madden, slowly, but surely, begins to unravel the mystery of who killed the family. As the investigation proceeds, Madden has a sense of urgency because he becomes convinced that the killer(s) will kill again and soon.
This is an excellent read, even for those who don't care for procedurals as being too slow moving, because you'll find yourself staying up late to finish just one more chapter. Madden is a very interesting character - flawed because of his experiences during the Great War - but not so flawed as to be insensitive in either his investigation or his relationship with the other characters in the book. The plot is ever changing with several interesting twists and turns. While the history is present, it is not the main thrust of the story - the solving of the multiple murders before the killer(s) kill again is the story here. There are two engaging minor characters - Constable Billy Styles, assigned to his first murder investigation, and Helen Blackwell, the local doctor who is called in to verify that the family is dead. There is some talk that this is the first in a trilogy featuring these characters. One can only hope this is true.
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on January 10, 2001
This was one of those accidental finds. Rennie Airth better be working on his next mystery with Madden as the protagonist, or I will be extremely disappointed. This book was definitely a work of art and of love. I am very curious to know about the member of Airth's family that he modeled Madden after. As always the British and now the South Africans write with class and intelligence, and it is nice to see a new detective in the manner of P. D. James' Adam Dagliesh. Like other readers I can easily see this being made into a movie or one of the Mystery series on PBS. The plot of this book is plausible, the characters are very well-drawn out, the involvement of World War I in shaping the minds and lives of those who live in England after the war understandable and obviously well-researched. This is probably the best new mystery and author I have read for at least two years. I hope to see more of him in the future. Karen Sadler, Science Education, University of Pittsburgh
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on August 17, 2001
I have been reading mysteries for over 35 years and happened upon this one at through a book list recommendation. After finishing this book I'm looking for anything else this author has written. I want to know more about Inspector Madden's past, present and future. His setting in post WWI England is a window to a time not so long ago but forgotten in this techno-world we live in today. While I am quite comfortable living in today, I am curious about this period of time and the attitudes of a people who survived being bombed in two major wars. One has to respect the courage of a people who picked up their lives and "got on with it". So you're getting more than an English whodoneit...but you won't be disappointed in the mystery either. There is more than the usual graphic detail but in order to be truly appalled and terrified by the mind of the killer, you need to look through Madden's eyes and see the horror of a man turned monster.
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on August 29, 2000
Being a big fan of Charles Todd's WWI-era mysteries, I was pleasantly surprised to find another author writing a post-WWI mystery. And it's every bit as good as and maybe better, in some ways, to Todd's series. I hope this DOES become a series because the atmosphere, feelings and characters are inventive, imaginative and, I would imagine, entirely correct. The introduction of Freud and his theories is entirely appropriate and, like another reviewer noted, will put you in mind of Caleb Carr's wonderful books. I won't go into the plot (it moves very quickly and doesn't leave you behind for a moment) or the characters (all quite believable and well written). I'll just say that if you don't read this one, you've missed a helluva good book.
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on January 19, 2001
An excellent thriller that keeps you guessing until the final twist. The time is shortly after WWI and the main character, a Scotland Yard Inspector wounded (physically and emotionally) by the war and the loss of his family to influenza, is investigating a mass murder by what they believe is a serial killer. The author does a wonderful job of fleshing out his characters...not an easy thing to do with so many different personalities central to the story. An interesting twist to this book, was seeing the story from both sides...police and killer. The book reminded me of The Alienist (Caleb Carr), but it's not nearly as wordy and is a much faster read. I give it two thumbs up as a great commuting or vacation book!
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I happened upon this series by accident. I enjoy historical mysteries and thrillers so the book was a good bet. I don't like reviewing plots as I hate having the story given away and won't do that for others. I will tell you that the book is well and smoothly written, a real pleasure to read. The plot is engaging and the mystery continues even after the killer is revealed. I enjoyed the book right to the last page. If you like mysteries, history and a thrill ride - I think you'll like the book. I've already moved on to the next in the series, I came to care for the characters and was please to know that I could meet them again in the pages of the next in the series.
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on January 9, 2001
River of Darkness is easily the best mystery I can remember reading. It is such an interesting combination of quiet village who-dunnit and the diary of a frantic psycho-killer. The story is told from 2 points of view which makes it twice as involving and twice as difficult to put down. The atmosphere is so thick and engrossing. Turning the pages is like transcending time and becoming, yourself, embroiled in the fast-paced, hypnotic mayhem of a quiet English town, hexed with the drama and tragedy of housing a very cold, unpredictable killer.
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on January 4, 2001
This is the best novel I have ever read. It is very different from other authors. His story is so interesting that you cannot bear to stop at a particular chapter. You would like to go on and on to find out what has happened. I even shiver when I read the way the killer does his killings. It would make an excellent movie. This is strongly recommended and if you are not daring enough, try to avoid reading at night alone.
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on September 3, 2001
I was captivated by John Madden of Scotland Yard, a damaged
veteran of WWI, the sinister killer and most especially Madden's
love interest, Dr. Helen Blackwell. Fine romantic descriptions
of their passion for each other amidst the sinister deceptions
of the villain. Indeed, John Madden was a lucky dog! I'm trying
to locate the author's two earlier works, Snatch, and Once a
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on July 6, 2001
Superb characters, excellent atmosphere, and fine writing highlight this wonderful English mystery. The shadow of WWI hangs heavy over this story of psychological suspense and the pain of the survivors is thoughtfully addressed. A sensitive, exciting, and immensely interesting novel that will not disappoint. First Rate!
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