I have long been an advocate of the Frey & McGray novels although I have read them all back to front. Despite reading the second and third books already, I have only just read book number 1 The Strings of Murder.
Obviously, I knew I was in for a treat having read the other two but it was pleasing to see that the first novel was just as good as the second and third.
The Strings of Murder is the beginning for Frey and McGray, Frey is sacked from Scotland Yard in London at the same time as his fiancée deserts him for another man. Feeling dejected he agrees to be sent to Edinburgh and be teamed up with the notorious ‘nine nails’ McGray who heads up a police subdivision which focuses on the occult.
What really makes this series great is the characters. Don’t get me wrong the plot is excellent, the twists fantastic, the historical accuracy on point (to the best of my knowledge) and the plot line is always intriguing making the stories unputdownable. But the relationship between Frey and McGray make it for me. The banter between them has me laughing out loud, from McGray’s insistence on referring to Frey as a ‘lassie’ to Frey’s disgust at everything McGray eats, wears, says or does. It’s just fantastic. If you haven’t read this series already then I suggest you do so as soon as possible!
‘Yer may nae. Do as I said, else I’ll punch yer snooty face.’
Welcome back to the notorious ‘Nine Nails’ McGray and his eloquent language when interviewing a potential witness. I fell in love with McGray when I read A Fever of the Blood last year and I was really pleased to be granted an ARC of A Mask of Shadows the third book in the series.
Once more we see the beguiling if slightly eccentric McGray, along with his partner Ian Frey thrown into a mysterious entanglement of murder, mystery and the supernatural. This time there’s a banshee haunting Henry Irving’s performance of ‘The Scottish Play’.
I love that Bram Stoker is one of the main characters in this book, it reminded me a little bit of the mini TV series Houdini & Doyle with the two men searching, one for supernatural causes (Doyle = McGray) and one for the reasonable explanation (Houdini = Frey). It has the same wonderfully entertaining banter between the two. I love that McGray treats Frey so badly calling him everything from a ‘pansy’ to ‘Percy’ after he finds out his middle name. Yet despite the good ribbing he constantly gives him, you can tell the two have a great connection and that McGray would miss Frey should he be sent back to London.
I also really liked how the character of Frey was developed in this novel. Usually he is the one trying to rein in McGray but this time he has a good Pop at people himself and it’s really great to see him get a pair of his own and I’m not talking tartan trousers!
The novel features a ton of famous characters from actors Henry Irving and Ellen Terry to the aforementioned Bram Stoker and even a cameo from Oscar Wilde and mentions of friendships with Lewis Carroll.
It is engaging from start to finish and I really didn’t have a clue who was behind everything. Nothing was clear as every time the author threw a red herring that’s all it seemed it be. Everyone stood a chance of being guilty and that is the truly clever skill of Oscar De Muriel that he is able to convince us that it might just be a supernatural explanation after all….