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Arrowood Paperback – 2 January 2018
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‘Arrowood is a flawed but engaging hero and the plot spins from peril to twist and back with real panache’ The Times
‘A fantastic creation’ The Spectator
‘Richly inventive’ Daily Telegraph
‘Compelling’ Seattle Times
‘Strongly reminiscent of Robert Galbraith’s Cormoran Strike novels…a memorable detective who can stand among the best’ Harrow Times
‘Arrowood feels… like he's always existed, we're only now being treated to an introduction. Mick Finlay's atmospheric, detailed, singular London is a terrifying place I hope to return to again and again.’ Ross Armstrong, bestselling author of The Watcher
‘If you ever thought the Sherlock Holmes stories might benefit from being steeped in gin, caked in grime and then left unwashed for weeks…Mick Finlay’s 1895-set detective debut is for you.’ Crime Scene
‘A book with enough warmth, charm, humour, and intrigue to signal the start of an excellent new series.’ Vaseem Khan, author of The Unexpected Inheritance of Inspector Chopra
‘Stunningly dark and atmospheric crime debut. This is a story that packs a powerful punch. With murder, intrigue, dark humour, compelling characters and an extraordinary backdrop, it’s to be hoped that Arrowood is just the opener for a thrilling and original new series.’ Lancashire Evening Post
‘Readers of historical detective fiction will enjoy this well-set, darkly humorous addition to the canon.’ Historical Novel Society
About the Author
Mick Finlay was born in Glasgow and grew up in Canada and England. He now divides his time between Brighton and Cambridge. He teaches in a Psychology Department, and has published social psychological research on political violence, persuasion, and verbal and non-verbal behaviour. Before becoming an academic he worked as a tent-hand in a travelling circus, a butcher's boy, a hotel porter, and in various psychology-related roles in the NHS and social services. He reads widely in history, psychology, and enjoys a variety of fiction genres (including crime, of course!).
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Top international reviews
Having said that, I had a few issues with it. Firstly, it needs a UK editor. If it has had one already, then they need demoting! The text is scattered with non-UK words that grate on a British reader. For example, at one point, a character is chasing someone (through Victorian London, remember) and they run to 'an intersection' (junction, crossroads); a bowler hat is repeatedly called a derby (the US name); an attic room is described as a 'garret'. I could go on, as there are lots more examples, but you get the point.
I would have liked more description. It's true that the writing already conjures up a murky old London, which is good, but there is a dearth of actual description. Maybe that's just me. I also get the feeling that the author has found as many facts about Victorian London as possible and has then squeezed them into the story just to show how well read he is. I can see how it's a good idea to be accurate, but here you can see the joins where he has put something in. Having said all that, I have pre-ordered the next in the series. This would make a great TV series.
In contrast to the spookily gifted Holmes, Arrowood is very human. We see his and the protagonist, Barnett's, failings and their private sorrows, both as people and as detectives. As a result, they are both thoroughly likeable characters. The redoubtable Ettie, meanwhile, forms a quirky and quite original combination of bossy-boots and latent love-interest.
The plot is cleverly constructed - nothing seems to be going right for the pair, yet somehow, in the end, it all makes sense, although Arrowood's skill at understanding the psychology of his enemies only narrowly succeeds in lending plausibility to the otherwise questionable last-but-one chapter.
Southwark, with its seedy alleys, its poverty and its drunkenness, is graphically portrayed, while the dialogue, without ever being brilliant, works well.
Ignore the few bad reviews, this looks like being a good series with an eccentric and opinionated but admirable and somehow-talented hero.
Finlay presents a convincing range of characters and, more crucially, there's a really well realised sense of place. This is the first of a series and it's a certainty that I'll read the second book.
It is always great to find a new author you love. And I will eagerly await Mick Finlay's next book.
The story is atmospheric. You can almost taste the Victorian London air. The character of Arrowood is fascinating. And you want to know so much more about him and how he came to be a detective. The supporting cast of Barnett and others are wonderful. And you are left in suspense as to who will make it to the end intact!
I highly recommend this book. The only problem will be how late you will be in bed reading it!