Mortmain Hall by Martin Edwards
Mortmain Hall by Martin Edwards is the latest mystery novel from the CWA 2020 Diamond Dagger Award winner, published by Head of Zeus. In 2015, Martin followed in the footsteps of Agatha Christie, G.K. Chesterton and Dorothy L. Sayers by being elected President of the Detection Club, the world’s oldest social network of crime writers.
Set in 1930, Mortmain Hall follows the rich heiress Rachel Saversnake as she attempts to uncover injustices and save the innocent.
Three separate crimes draw a troop of ‘innocent’ people together; a murder on London’s Necropolis Railways, a man found innocent of setting fire to his own car with a vagrant inside, a murder at a seaside bungalow, and a tragic drowning in a frozen lake. Rachel, and others connected to these crimes, are invited to a house party held by female criminologist Leonora Dobell.
Rachel has her own suspicions that the crimes are all connected somehow and can’t resist the invitation to meet the ‘innocent’ guests, as well as get to know Leonora better. But why has Leonora invited such an unusual collection of people to her quiet home in the middle of nowhere? What will happen at Mortmain Hall?
Mortain Hall instantly grabbed my attention with its inclusion of the Necropolis Railway. The railway was opened in 1854 as a reaction to severe overcrowding in London’s existing graveyards and cemeteries. It transported the deceased and their families to Brookwood Cemetry, which is the largest cemetery in the UK. I lived in nearby Woking for years and have wandered the stunning cemetery, so this immediately brought the story to life in my mind.
After that, I was drawn in by the colourful cast of characters and the classic charm of this historical mystery. Every chapter hints at new clues, and as the book progresses, they start to end on cliffhangers you just can’t put down. Martin Edwards takes the unusual approach of scattering crime stories throughout the first few chapters and pulling the threads together to create a wonderful web of a finale. Instead of the classic trope where all the suspects of one crime are drawn together at the end, he expands on that idea, giving the reader even more to sink their teeth into and making it even harder to predict.
If you’re a fan of classic mystery writers like Ruth Rendell and Georgette Heyer, you’ll adore Mortmain Hall. With it’s classic Golden Age style and a boost of extra twists, it’s sure to keep readers gripped until the final pages.
Keep reading after these final pages and you’ll discover the Cluefinder. This is a great addition to the book where Martin reveals all the hints to the big reveal that he’s dropped throughout the novel.
If you like Mortmain Hall by Martin Edwards, you’ll love The Psychology of Time Travel by Kate Mascarenhas.
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