Book reviews by Steve Earles: detective fiction

Akin To Murder: An Inspector Faro Mystery

by Alanna Knight

Published by Alison and Busby

When the author has received an MBE for services to literature and has been endorsed by no less a personage than Ian Rankin, you know you are dealing with a special writer.

This novel is set in Victorian Edinburgh. Having visited that city I can say that so much of it has changed so little since then it is easy to picture the vivid images this fine book conjures up.

The events in ‘Akin to Murder’ take place in 1864: a convicted murderer called John McLaw has escaped, massively complicating the life of Detective Inspector Faro. Sightings of the escaped killer lead nowhere, yet Faro has suspicions of his own. When a maid disappears, Faro realises it is a race against time to uncover the truth.

Well-plotted, well-written, with a believable detective with a strong personal motive, this is a great read.

Moreover, with so many of the locations in the story extant, it would make a truly atmospheric TV drama.

Ordeal by Fire: A Bradecote and Catchpoll Mystery

by Sarah Hawkswood

Published by Alison and Busby

If you like Ellis Peter’s excellent Cadfael books, you’re sure to enjoy this. The research and writing is first class, but what I feel truly gives it an edge is the dynamic between Bradecote and Catchpoll; readers will really take to them. It’s similar to the dynamic between Cadfael and Hugh Beringer.

Not wishing to reveal too much of the plot… In the September of 1143, Sergeant Catchpoll investigates two fires; the first he hopes is an accident, but the second leaves him in little doubt that foul deeds are afoot, when a burnt corpse is discovered in the charred remains. He must call in the undersheriff, Hugh Bradecote, to find this fire-starting murderer. Further fires follow as the investigation heats up.

Overall, an excellent medieval whodunit, and one I’d love to see adapted for the small screen; the more people that are exposed to Bradecote and Catchpole, the better.

A Most Novel Revenge

by Ashley Weaver

Published by Alison and Busby

As the times we live in get ever darker, more and more people are taking refuge in the past, though as we see in ‘A Most Novel Revenge’, the past isn’t necessarily any safer!

It’s fair to say that few modern writers do the Agatha Christie-esque 1930s mystery as well as Ashley Weaver.

This is the third in a three-book deal with Alison and Busby following ‘Murder at the Brightwell’ and ‘Death Wears A Mask’.

Set in the February of 1933, Amory Ames responds to a summons from her cousin Laurel. So, with her husband Milo in tow, she sets off to Lyonsgate Estate. Seven years before, there was a tragic accident when a party got out of hand. But there is more to this than meets the eye and the same guests reassemble and the mystery thickens…

I will say no more for fear of spoiling it for the readers, but this book captures the period it is set in perfectly, the plot is excellent, and the readers will love the characters.

I would love to see this adapted for television.

Steve Earles is author and co-author of numerous projects, including To End All Wars: The WWI Graphic Anthology, available summer 2014 (