My thanks to the lovely Florence at ‘Head Of Zeus‘ publishing and NetGalley respectively, for organising my spot on this concise Blog Tour and making the download so hassle free.
As we are about half way through the tour, there are sure to have been plenty of great features, Guest Posts and author interviews, hosted by previous Blog Tour participants, so why not check out a few!
Sooty, sulphurous, and malign: no woman should be out on a night like this. A spate of violent deaths – the details too foul to print – has horrified the capital and the smog-bound streets are deserted. But Rachel Savernake – the enigmatic daughter of a notorious hanging judge – is no ordinary woman. To Scotland Yard’s embarrassment, she solved the Chorus Girl Murder, and now she’s on the trail of another killer.
Jacob Flint, a young newspaperman temporarily manning The Clarion’s crime desk, is looking for the scoop that will make his name. He’s certain there is more to the Miss Savernake’s amateur sleuthing than meets the eye. He’s not the only one. His predecessor on the crime desk was of a similar mind – not that Mr Betts is ever expected to regain consciousness after that unfortunate accident…
Flint’s pursuit of Rachel Savernake will draw him ever-deeper into a labyrinth of deception and corruption. Murder-by-murder, he’ll be swept ever-closer to its dark heart – to that ancient place of execution, where it all began and where it will finally end: Gallows Court.
He trained as a solicitor in Leeds and moved to Liverpool on qualifying. He published his first legal article at the age of 25 and his first book, about legal aspects of buying a business computer at 27, before a career as an equity partner of a law firm, where he is now a consultant.
Over the years, Martin has earned just about every distinction in all areas of the crime-fiction field.
A member of the Murder Squad, collective of crime writers, Martin is Chair of the Crime Writers’ Association and in 2015 he was elected eighth President of the Detection Club. He is also Archivist of the CWA and of the Detection Club.
He is married to Helena, has two children and lives in Lymm, Cheshire.
Keep up with all the latest news at Martin’s website
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Check out the complete listing of all Martin’s books
As my contribution to the Blog Tour, ‘Head Of Zeus’ and Martin Edwards, have requested that I share this extract from the opening pages of ‘Gallows Court’ …
JULIET BRENTANO’S JOURNAL
30 January 1919
My parents died yesterday.
Henrietta has just broken the news. Tears filled her eyes, and she put a hand on my arm. I didn’t speak, and I didn’t cry. The gale sweeping over the island from the Irish Sea howled for me.
Henrietta says Harold Brown sent Judge Savernake a telegram from London. My parents caught the Spanish flu, he said, like thousands before them. It was all over very quickly, and they passed away peacefully in each other’s arms.
It’s a fairy story. The emptiness in her voice told me she doesn’t believe a word of it.
Neither do I. My mother and father were murdered, I’m sure of it.
And Rachel Savernake is responsible.
‘Jacob Flint is watching the house again.’ The housekeeper’s voice rose. ‘Do you think he knows about…?’
‘How could he?’ Rachel Savernake said. ‘Don’t worry, I’ll deal with him.’
‘You can’t!’ the older woman protested. ‘You don’t have time.’
Rachel adjusted her cloche hat in front of the looking glass. A demure face returned her gaze. Nobody would guess her nerve-ends were tingling. Was this how the Judge felt, when he put on his black cap?
‘There’s time enough. The car isn’t due for five minutes.’
She slid on her evening gloves. Mrs Trueman handed her the bag, and opened the front door. A voice crooned from the drawing room. Martha was listening to the Dorsey Brothers on the new automatic gramophone. Rachel danced down the short flight of steps in her Pompadour heels, humming Cole Porter’s song, ‘Let’s Do It’.
Fog was slithering over the square, and cold January air nibbled her cheeks. She was glad of her sable coat. The lamp-lights tinged the dirty greyness with an eerie yellow hue. Long years spent on a small island had accustomed her to sea frets. She felt a strange affection for the winter mists drifting in from the water, rippling like gauze curtains, draping the damp landscape. A London particular was a different beast – sooty, sulphurous, and malign, as capable of choking you as a Limehouse ruffian. The greasy air made her eyes smart, and its acrid taste burned her throat. Yet the foul and muddy swirl troubled her no more than pitch darkness frightens a blind man. Tonight she felt invincible.
A figure detached itself from the shadows. Peering through the gloom, she made out a tall, skinny man in coat and trilby. A long woollen scarf, loosely tied, hung from his shoulders. His gait was energetic yet awkward. She guessed he’d been plucking up courage to ring the doorbell.
‘Miss Savernake! Sorry to bother you on a Sunday evening!’ He sounded young, eager, and utterly unapologetic. ‘My name is—’
‘I know who you are.’
‘But we haven’t been introduced.’ Unruly strands of fair hair sneaked from under the trilby, and a pompous clearing of the throat couldn’t disguise his gaucherie. At twenty-four, he had the fresh, scrubbed features of a schoolboy. ‘I happen to be—’
‘Jacob Flint, a reporter with the Clarion. You must know that I never speak to the press.’
‘I’ve done my homework.’ He glanced to left and right. ‘What I do know is that it’s unsafe for a lady to be out while a brutal killer prowls the London streets.’
‘Perhaps I’m not really a lady.’
His eyes fastened on the diamond clip in her hat. ‘You look every inch—’
‘Appearances can be deceptive.’
He leaned towards her. His skin smelled of coal-tar soap. ‘If you’re not really a lady, all the more reason for you to take care.’
‘It is unwise to threaten me, Mr Flint.’
He took a step back. ‘I’m desperate to talk to you. You recall the note I left with your housekeeper?’
Of course she did. She’d watched from the window as he delivered it. He’d fiddled nervously with his tie while waiting on the step. Surely he wasn’t stupid enough to believe she’d answer the door herself?
‘My car will arrive presently, and I don’t intend to conduct an interview anywhere, let alone on a pavement in the fog.’
‘You can trust me, Miss Savernake.’
‘Don’t be absurd. You’re a journalist.’
‘Honestly, we have something in common.’
‘What, exactly?’ She ticked points off on her gloved hand.
‘You learned your trade as a reporter in Yorkshire before arriving in London last autumn. You lodge in Amwell Street, and you worry that your landlady’s daughter seeks to trade her body for marriage. Ambition drove you to join the muckrakers on the Clarion rather than a respectable newspaper. The editor admires your persistence, but frets about your rashness.’
He gulped. ‘How…?’
‘You have a morbid interest in crime, and regard Thomas Betts’ recent accident as both a misfortune and an opportunity. With the Clarion’s chief crime reporter on his death bed, you scent a chance to make your name.’ She took a breath. ‘Be careful what you wish for. If Wall Street can crumble, so can anything. How unfortunate if your promising career were cut short, like his.’
He flinched, as if she’d slapped his face. When he spoke, his voice was hoarse.
‘No wonder you solved the Chorus Girl Murder. You’re quite a detective; you put the boys in blue to shame.’
‘When you sent me a note, did you expect me to do nothing?’
‘I’m flattered that you took the trouble to investigate me.’ He ventured a grin, showing crooked teeth. ‘Or are you brilliant enough to deduce all that from the careless knotting of my scarf, and the fact my shoes need a shine?’
‘Find someone else to write about, Mr Flint.’