June 1914 and the world is on the eve of war. But in London, a more personal tragedy is about to take place. Three bizarre attempted suicides raise the suspicions of DI Silas Quinn and his team – but Quinn is unwilling to share all of his concerns with his colleagues. The suits that the suicides discarded before jumping bring back memories from a dark part of his life – a life in an asylum.
What is causing the suicides? Is it related to Timon Medway, a psychopath from Quinn’s past, currently a resident at the asylum. And can Quinn keep his own sanity as he searches for the truth?
A good while ago, I read the third Silas Quinn mystery, The Dark Palace, and it was safe to say that I admired it, rather than enjoyed it. It was dark, very well written with a tortured lead, but it felt more like a story about a mystery than a whodunit. Fair enough, that’s the writer’s choice – not everyone has to write books specifically tailored to my choices.
So why come back to the series if it wasn’t quite for me? Pretty simple, I met the author recently at a book launch and had a very interesting chat with him about writing, detective stories and all sorts of things. So I figured I’d give the series another try.
Again, if you are looking for a classic-style mystery, then you should probably look elsewhere. While there is an element of whodunit here, it’s structured more on the lines of a thriller with a twist, and an impressive character piece.
Quinn probably wins some sort of award for most tortured lead in detective fiction – dead family, past insanity, problems with authority – but it does make him an intriguing focus for the story. The asylum scenes are particularly effective, but one has to perhaps questions the lengths he goes to in order to go undercover. Yes, it works, but did he really need to sh.. no, family blog, not going to go there.
Again, it’s a book I admired rather than enjoyed, but it’s an engrossing read. And I’m looking forward to taking a look at the next title in the series, as Quinn finally gets a chink of light in his life. Fingers crossed he doesn’t mess it up…