A Splendid Read: Martin Edwards Sepulchre Street
‘I want you to solve my murder,’ said the woman in white.
Rachel Savernake gave a sardonic smile. ‘Quite a challenge.
‘Rumour has it you seldom refuse a dare.’
Sepulchre Street is the fourth in the Rachel Savernake series and I think it is the best so far. It grips from the start. It is 1930s London and Rachel is attending the exhibition of Damaris Gethin’s latest works featuring live models posing as famous killers, when she is button-holed by the artist. She accepts Demaris’s challenge, but she doesn’t expect to be called on it immediately. Indeed everyone assumes that it is part of the performance when Damaris goes on stage and puts her head in a guillotine. But she dies and Rachel is left asking whether this really is the suicide that it seems or is it the murder that the artist foretold. And if it was suicide, what drove her to it?
I loved the nods to Golden Age crime fiction, the cluefinder, the map. A lot of the fun of the novel lies in the period details and the way in which the 1930s are lovingly evoked: the clothes, the nightclubs, the songs (some invented, but very much in the spirit of the time). Cocktails were all the rage and their appearance is something of a running joke. I like the sound of One Exciting Night (French and Italian Vermouth, Plymouth Gin and a dash of orange juice), but I don’t think I’ll be ordering a Bosom Caresser (grenadine, curacoa, brandy and egg white) anytime soon. Both, it turns out, were real drinks of the period.
The search for answers leads Rachel to Rye and the bleak Romney Marsh. As with the earlier entries in the series crime reporter Jacob Flint assists her. His impetuous behaviour puts him in jeopardy on more than one occasion and Rachel has to come to the rescue. There were times when I felt like giving him a good shake and I hope he will up his game on their next outing. And that next outing can’t come soon enough for me. I romped though the novel far too quickly and didn’t want it to end. All in all a splendid read.