Today I am delighted to be joining the blog tour for Blackstone Fell by Martin Edwards. Just published September 1st with Aries Fiction, an imprint of Head of Zeus, Blackstone Fell is the third book in this series featuring Rachel Savernake. Described as a series of books that incorporate ‘a Gothic take on the classic elements of Golden Age detective fiction’, Blackstone Fell is a locked room mystery set in the 1930s on the Yorkshire Moors.
‘Martin Edwards has a long-held passion for the Golden Age of Crime. He researched Blackstone Fell in between lockdowns and found writing it a brilliant exercise in escapism during the pandemic winter of 2020–21. As President of the Detection Club, consultant to the British Library’s bestselling classic crime series which has now sold over a million copies and winner of numerous awards internationally including the Edgar, Agatha, Macavity, Poirot and CWA Diamond Dagger Awards Martin Edwards is well placed as an expert on 1930s crime fiction. Blackstone Fell is the result of his latest research into that Golden Age of Crime. ‘
[ About the Book ]
Rachel Savernake investigates bizarre crimes and a baffling locked-room puzzle in this Gothic mystery from the winner of the CWA Diamond Dagger. Yorkshire, 1606. A man vanishes from a locked gatehouse in a remote village. 300 years later, it happens again.
Autumn 1930. Journalist Nell Fagan knows there’s only one person who can get to the bottom of this mystery: Rachael Savernake. But someone wants Nell dead, and soon, while investigating a series of recent deaths at Blackstone Sanatorium, she’s missing entirely. Looking for answers, Rachel travels to lonely Blackstone Fell, with its eerie moor, deadly waters and sinister tower.
With help from Jacob Flint – who’s determined to expose a fraudulent medium at a séance – Rachel will risk her life to bring an end to the disappearances…
A dazzling mystery peopled by clerics and medics and embellished with science and superstition, Blackstone Fell explores the shadowy borderlands between spiritual and scientific; between sanity and madness; and between virtue and deadly sin.
[ Extract ]
‘Seeing isn’t always believing.’
Nell Fagan was talking to herself. She stood on a wide ledge of rock, a natural platform jutting out from Blackstone Fell. Under a low autumn sun, this remote corner of the Pennines masqueraded as a green and pleasant land. Beech leaves gleamed golden in the ravine below. A river rushed from the gorge past the village which shared its name with the Fell. Mellow light bathed the grey stone of manor house, rectory, church, and graveyard. Beyond the church, a tall round tower cast long shadows.
Her mind whirled. Could she believe the evidence of her own eyes, or was her vivid imagination playing a cruel trick? She’d hoped the peace and quiet up here would help to straighten out her thoughts, but she lacked Rachel Savernake’s cool head. If only she had someone to confide in, to help her make sense of the apparently impossible; but she’d misjudged her approach to Rachel and made an enemy of her. In any case Rachel was in London, and so was Peggy, her oldest and closest friend. Nell was on her own, two hundred miles from home. The Smoke and the Slump belonged to a different world.
Nobody in Blackstone Fell knew who she was or how she earned a living. Far less that murder had brought her here. She’d adopted a false name and was pretending to be an ardent photographer. It gave her a good excuse to poke around, snapping pictures of people and places at every opportunity.
Last night she’d walked down to the lower village to wet her whistle at The New Jerusalem. The public bar was a stronghold of taciturn masculinity, but she’d made her way in a man’s world, and the old curmudgeons weren’t going to intimidate her. Even if she was no diplomat, nobody could accuse her of lacking courage or self-belief. Announcing herself as the new tenant of Blackstone Lodge, she insisted on standing everyone a round of drinks.
She was bursting with curiosity about her new home, she explained. What was this story about its strange past? Why had nobody ever lived there until now? Had people really disappeared without trace? Should she be afraid? The regulars responded with shrugs and vague mutterings and turned their attention back to the dartboard. If an outsider was stupid enough to rent a place with such wretched history, that was her lookout.
The rector’s wife was right, Nell thought. Judith Royle maintained that the villagers gave nothing away to strangers. Certainly not to an ungainly Londoner who reeked of tobacco and gin and could talk the hind legs off a donkey. When she wondered aloud about what went on inside Blackstone Sanatorium, nobody paid any attention. If the R101 had crashed on Blackstone Moor the other day, rather than a French field, they’d barely have spared the airship a glance before getting back to their dominoes and shove ha’penny.
She felt an unexpected chill. The sunshine was deceptive, like Blackstone Fell. A gust of wind rattled the tripod on which her camera perched precariously. It was a Vest Pocket Kodak in a vivid shade known as Redbreast. To be on the safe side, she unscrewed the camera from the tripod.
A sudden cacophony shattered the silence, deafening enough to make her bones rattle. She glanced up. A huge lump of rock was thundering down the jagged slope, heading straight for her. Throwing herself backwards, she lost her balance. She collapsed in a heap and the camera slipped from her hand. The boulder missed her head by inches and smashed the tripod to smithereens.
[ Bio ]
Martin Edwards has won the Edgar, Agatha, H.R.F. Keating, Macavity, Poirot and Dagger Awards as well as being shortlisted for the Theakston’s Prize. He is President of the Detection Club. In 2020 he was awarded the Diamond Dagger for his outstanding contribution to crime fiction. Martin is the consultant to the British Library’s bestselling crime classics, which has total UK sales of about 750,000 to date.
He has been the Chair of the Crime Writers’ Association and is the award-winning author of The Golden Age of Murder.
Twitter ~ @medwardsbooks