- Format: Kindle Edition
- File Size: 3121 KB
- Print Length: 404 pages
- Publisher: Penguin (12 February 2015)
- Sold by: Penguin UK
- Language: English
- ASIN: B00NPIUILA
- Text-to-Speech: Enabled
- Word Wise: Enabled
- Customer Reviews: 148 customer ratings
- Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #275,177 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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The Strings of Murder: Frey & McGray Book 1 (A Victorian Mystery) Kindle Edition
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From the Back Cover
A violinist is murdered in his home. The dead virtuoso's maid swears she heard three musicians playing in the night. But with only one body in the locked practice room - and no way in or out - the case makes no sense.
Fearing a national panic over another Ripper, Scotland Yard sends Inspector Ian Frey to investigate under the cover of a fake department specializing in the occult. However, Frey's new boss, Detective 'Nine-Nails' McGray, actually believes in such supernatural nonsense.
McGray's tragic past has driven him to superstition, but even Frey must admit that this case seems beyond reason. And once someone loses all reason, who knows what they will lose next...
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Inspector Ian Frey, being a touch arrogant in nature and supercilious in manner, is not the most likeable of men. To the dismay of his well to do family he had tried and disliked the study of both medicine and law finally deciding on a career as a detective. A job he is actually quite good at and, having solved one high profile case, he is more convinced than ever of his superior intellect.
Everything is going well, until, due to some political manoeuvres, he finds himself on the verge of losing his job unless he agrees to travel to Edinburgh to solve a very strange case. To his chagrin he finds himself subordinate to Detective Nine-Nails McGray. Poor Frey finds everything north of the border to be terribly offensive to his fine sensibilities - and is not afraid to say so. McGray though is having none of his fancy ways, nor are the house servants, in fact not even the dog shows any respect for him or his fine clothes.
The interactions between Frey and McGray provide the humour, yet there is a serious locked room mystery going on here, Frey takes his usual pragmatic and systematic approach to the investigation, at least, he tries to. Yet on more than one occasion he finds McGrays insistence on following a more unusual path to be both enraging and beyond belief. As past tragedies unfold and the present mysteries are revealed, the two men earn the grudging respect of the other.
Despite a bit of a shaky start when I didn't quite understand what was going on, all did become clear and the beginning fitted the end very well. Some of the characters did stretch my credibility a little, but this only added to my overall enjoyment of this entertaining story. The short violin interludes helped create a chilling atmosphere for this thoroughly enjoyable audiobook.
Andy Secombe did a pretty good job of all those accents, the only voice I didn't much care for was that of the crazy girl from the past, I found her just a bit over the top. I loved how he captured the pomposity of some of the political characters and how he somehow managed to seamlessly change those voices from pompous to obsequious when they were in the presence of the Prime Minister. All of the characters were clearly defined, especially enjoyable was the supercilious Frey. The pace and rhythm of the reading matched the story well.
This audiobook was provided by the author, publisher or narrator in return for an honest review.
This is a wonderful Victorian crime melodrama written with pace, humour and some interesting characters. It is macabre and contains elements of witchcraft and the like and it feels as though there is a touch of Holmes contained here maybe. The use of real historical facts & some good legends added a vein which felt real to me. There is a good crime drama that plays out over the course of this book however it is balanced by some very dry and cutting wit which I found worked well for me. The balance between drama, melodrama and humour I felt was creative and highly enjoyable - I will definitely be reading the next book! 4.5/5
Disclosure - I received an advance copy of this book from the publisher.
Top international reviews
This was the first book in a long time that I had trouble putting down. I even forced myself to read it on the bus even though reading on a bus gives me travel sickness.
The book gripped me from the beginning. I enjoyed the characters; they all felt genuine and organic. It incorporated its setting and time period appropriately. Everyone had an appropriate personality/views for their time and de Muriel captured how well these things would interact with the plot. This is something that can spoil so many otherwise well-crafted books so I was thrilled to see it managed to well.
The mystery was masterfully woven. I had clues and inklings of what may be happening, clues teased in all the right ways. I honestly can't decide who I like better - Frey or McGray. Both have their own unique quirks and even if McGray didn't have an accent, I bet I could distinguish between his and Frey's lines. Two very well crafted and realised characters.
There were times when the plot carried me along swiftly. It slowed down when necessary. I found myself giggling at some parts, gasping at others, and shaking with anger at other parts.
The only thing I will say is that the eventual culprit could have been hinted at a little more. As it is, they almost seem to come out of nowhere. de Muriel is very good at planting clues in plain sight that we don't fully understand until later, so I was disappointed with this aspect, however, I can live with it as is. I would have given this 4 stars for it, but I still enjoyed the book so much, so I went ahead and gave it 5. Excellent writing absolves a multitude of sins.
If you enjoy things like X-files, Sherlock Holmes, or Jonathan Creek, you will love this.
The characters are all believable and the heroic McGray and Frey perfectly compliment each other. I couldn't help but like them enormously, although it's the formidable Joan, and her sparring partner George, that I could "watch" all day (in my mind's eye I see Rab C Newbury and his Mary 'Hen' 😂😂😂)!!! I'm intrigued to know how these relationships develop.
This is a story told by a gifted storyteller - I'm off now to renew my acquaintance with McGray et al. I feel certain that they will soon become my dear friends......
Ian Frey is a detective at Scotland Yard but in the fallout of the Ripper murders he is on the wrong side politically and faces a stark choice - the sack or a secondment to Edinburgh to look into a potential Ripper copycat where success could mean a return to London. The case is baffling, a violinist is killed and eviscerated in a locked room, and his new boss, Adolphus "Nine Nails" McGray is repulsive to him but, as the bodies pile up, they bring different strengths to the investigation.
The plot is suitably melodramatic for the period (1888) with psychics, body snatchers and beasties added to plenty of twists and turns, all adding up to an engrossing read. Frey and McGray are like chalk and cheese, the former being refined and snobbish, the latter much more rough and ready, not to mention obsessed with the occult, much to Frey's disgust. Their relationship and interplay provides much of the comedy in the novel as they gradually come to an accommodation in their working life and start to appreciate one another's skills.
There is much to like in The Strings Of Murder and I think Mr de Muriel has a winning formula in it so I'm looking forward to the next instalment.
I was drawn to this one as it suggested a supernatural slant. I love an atmospheric thriller and this has it in bucket loads.
The two lead detective characters are so well written and I loved their interactions. They're so different, very funny at times yet not without their own unique depths and insecurities.
I didn't guess the conclusion but it's one of those books where you look back and it all fits together in a really satisfying way.
I'm definitely going to be getting more books from Oscar de Muriel featuring Fry and McGray!
A minor member of the gentry ends up in the Victorian Scotland Yard, and having fallen out of favour ends up heading north to the real Scotland.
The tale is one of broad gothic touches, with the relationship between the snooty English Inspector and his grouchy Scottish counterpart being at the core of the book. If you enjoy their banter then you will enjoy the book, if not, then you might find it harder going.
The author has made a game effort with setting the bulk of the book in Edinburgh, however it is clear that he does not know the place particularly well. For example the City Chambers is a far more remarkable building than the book would suggest, and the Ensign Ewart is hardly the nearest pub. Characters never seem to remark whether they are heading up or downhill, despite Edinburgh being such a vertiginous place. Similarly the parkland in the centre of Edinburgh is the Meadows, not the Moors. However these are small indiscretions in such a good hearted and entertaining romp. Hopefully there are plenty more to come in this series.
The Sherlock Holmes influence is fairly obvious, the murder is committed inside a locked room with no other way out and Frey and McGray have to use their powers of deduction to discover the truth. The X-Files reference is a little more subtle at the beginning but equally as blatant with the grand reveal at the end (trying to spoil as little as possible, but it's very similar to a very famous pair of X-Files episodes) but there are still plenty of devil symbols around to keep the occult as a central subject of the investigation. Frey is the Sculley of the novel, refusing to believe McGray's Mulder.
Overall, the plot is solid, the main characters are likeable and conversely, the characters that are meant to be disliked are incredibly dislikeable. The pace was pretty good throughout the novel and I completed it in just two sittings and even then only because I had to go to work in between!
I do have a few complaints, however, and they are mostly about the writing. The author has an odd habit of finishing the weaker chapters with equally pathetic hooks. For example, 'I had no idea that worse days were yet to come'. While I appreciate this as a regularly used writing technique, I found the authors use of this to be very clumsy and not subtle. The best authors make it obvious that big things are about to happen without outright telling us but de Muriel seemed terrified that the reader would think, 'Not much happened that chapter, not going to bother continuing'. I also found some passages quite pretentious, I can't be the only one getting frustrated with writers using 'for' instead of 'because'. 'Mark managed to block the blow, for he had risen to his feet and grabbed a weapon'. In my mind, this use should be reserved for a big reveal and not used too often but de Muriel seemed terrified of using the words 'because' or 'as' or even just reordering sentences to avoid the use and make it flow better.
But these are very small nitpicks. While they did make me have to roll my eyes every now and then it didn't spoil my enjoyment of the novel. As I said, the two main characters are likeable and there is the hint of a sub plot that will span several books in the series, that being McGray's past in a similar vein to Mulder's sister in X-Files. The crimes were suitably intriguing and there were enough red herrings to keep you guessing throughout the book, although I highly doubt anyone will be able to guess who the murderer was on their first read which is a little disappointing.
Overall, if you're a fan of murder mysteries, Crime, Sherlock Holmes and maybe even X-Files, you will probably have a good time with this book. I would definitely recommend giving it a try and I'm looking forward to the next in the series being released.
A quirky coupling of Victorian detectives thrown together one English one Scots, throw in family feuds, a touch of witchcraft and plenty of strange murders, what isn't there to like.
The only thing that stopped me giving it 5 stars was the Scottish accent ken put in to cover a whole load of circumstances in a sentence, it just spoiled the flow of reading for me.