It’s my stop on the blogtour for Mortmain Hall by Martin Edwards and I am pleased to share an original AUTHOR POST with you today!
ENGLAND, 1930. Grieving widows are a familiar sight on London’s Necropolis Railway. So when an elegant young woman in a black veil boards the funeral train, nobody guesses her true purpose.
But Rachel Savernake is not one of the mourners. She hopes to save a life – the life of a man who is supposed to be cold in the grave. But then a suspicious death on the railway track spurs her on to investigate a sequence of baffling mysteries: a death in a blazing car; a killing in a seaside bungalow; a tragic drowning in a frozen lake. Rachel believes that the cases are connected – but what possible link can there be?
Rich, ruthless and obsessed with her own dark notions of justice, she will not rest until she has discovered the truth. To find the answers to her questions she joins a house party on the eerie and remote North Yorkshire coast at Mortmain Hall, an estate. Her inquiries are helped – and sometimes hindered – by the impetuous young journalist Jacob Flint and an eccentric female criminologist with a dangerous fascination with perfect crimes…
Mortmain Hall is at once a gripping thriller and a classic whodunit puzzle: a Golden Age Gothic mystery, the finest novel yet from a modern master of crime writing.
My Top 10 Female Detectives – Martin Edwards
The book that set me on the path to becoming a crime writer – at the tender age of eight – was The Murder at the Vicarage by Agatha Christie. I fell in lovewith Jane Marple, the elderly lady who, when it comes to solving murder mysteries, proves to be more than a match for Scotland Yard’s finest. Her acute understanding of human behaviour, in all its forms, gleaned from a lifetime spent in a small village, is more than just a brilliant concept, it’s an enormousstrength.
When I created Rachel Savernake, the lead character in Mortmain Hall, I wanted to balance her undoubted ruthlessness with a profound insight into human nature gained from her dark past. In one way or another, it’s this quality of knowing how people tick that is the hallmark of the best female detectives. Here are ten of my favourites.
Jane Marple (Agatha Christie)
When Miss Marple first appeared, one leading critic said that the character couldn’t sustain a series – she was too limited in her horizons. How wrong can you be? Marple has a powerful sense of evil, illustrated in A Pocket Full of Ryewhen she is distressed by the cruel murder of a naive housemaid. Of course, she makes sure the culprit gets his just deserts.
Mrs Bradley (Gladys Mitchell)
In the books about her, the psychiatrist Mrs Bradley is as ugly as she is brilliant. Everyone was amazed, therefore, when the stories were televised and DianaRigg took the role. The TV series was fun but short-lived. The books are variable, but the best are memorable. Mrs Bradley is clever but also ruthless: in Speedy Death, she even commits murder.
Harriet Vane (Dorothy L. Sayers)
The first great love affair in detective fiction was between Harriet and Lord Peter Wimsey. Like Sayers, Harriet is a detective novelist rather than a great detective, but she takes centre stage in Gaudy Night, described by some as the first major feminist crime story.
Anna Lee (Liza Cody)
Anna was the first major female private eye in British fiction, appearing in a series of lively mysteries. When the books were televised, Imogen Stubbs played Anna, but the scripts didn’t live up to the quality of the excellent source material.
Jane Tennison (Lynda LaPlante)
Helen Mirren’s performance as Jane Tennison in the Prime Suspect series remains as gripping as it was ground-breaking. The work-life balance challenges faced by a senior female police officer complemented strong storylines which influenced a generation of TV writers in their portrayal of women detectives.
Kinsey Millhone (Sue Grafton)
Kinsey is a likeable cop turned private eye who featured in 25 highly entertaining mysteries starting with A is for Alibi. Sue Grafton never allowed Kinsey to be portrayed on television, a decision influenced by her own experience of the TV world. Her death in 2017 means that the alphabet ends with Y is for Yesterday.
Cordelia Gray (P D James)
Cordelia is a private eye who only appears in two novels, yet they made a huge impact and led to a successful TV series, the wryly titled An Unsuitable Job fora Woman. However P D James resisted the temptation to marry Cordelia off to her series detective Adam Dalgliesh of Scotland Yard – a good decision.
Vera Stanhope (Ann Cleeves)
Vera made her first appearance half-way through The Crow Trap but, on reading the book when it first appeared, I was convinced that she was a character with star quality. Many years later, her portrayal by Brenda Blethyn on television has helped to make Ann Cleeves Britain’s new Queen of Crime.
Lisabeth Salander (Stieg Larsson)
Salander, the enigmatic and formidable ‘girl with the dragon tattoo’ is one of the most striking characters in modern fiction. She appeared in three novels before her creator’s untimely death. The success of the books and film adaptations has led to the appearance of continuation novels by other writers.
Precious Ramotswe (Alexander McCall Smith)
Precious lives in Botswana and founded the No. 1 Ladies’ Detective Agency. Her wisdom rivals that of Jane Marple, and the light stories in which she appears offer delightful entertainment in testing times.
Mortmain Hall is out now in gorgeous hardback and you can buy it here
My thanks go to Martina Ticic and Midas PR for the invitation to the blogtour and to Head of Zeus for my stunning finished copy of the book.
If you liked my post, please do check out my others, and also the other stops on the blog tour (see below).
Until next time!