Four Thousand Days

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Pub Date 01 Feb 2022 | Archive Date 31 Jan 2022

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Introducing turn-of-the-century archaeologist-sleuth Margaret Murray in the first of a brilliant new historical mystery series.

October, 1900. University College, London. When the spreadeagled body of one of her students is discovered in her rented room shortly after attending one of her lectures, Dr Margaret Murray is disinclined to accept the official verdict of suicide and determines to find out how and why the girl really died.

As an archaeologist, Dr Murray is used to examining ancient remains, but she’s never before had to investigate the circumstances surrounding a newly-dead corpse. However, of one thing Margaret is certain: if you want to know how and why a person died, you need to understand how they lived. And it soon becomes clear that the dead girl had been keeping a number of secrets. As Margaret uncovers evidence that Helen Richardson had knowledge of a truly extraordinary archaeological find, the body of a second young woman is discovered on a windswept Kent beach – and the case takes a disturbing new twist …
Introducing turn-of-the-century archaeologist-sleuth Margaret Murray in the first of a brilliant new historical mystery series.

October, 1900. University College, London. When the spreadeagled...

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ISBN 9781780291345
PRICE $28.99 (USD)

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Featured Reviews

Bursting With Atmospherics… The first in the Margaret Murray series of mysteries finds archaeologist and sometime amateur sleuth, Margaret, with a body to contend with. Set 1900, London, at University College, this mystery is bursting with atmospherics, a credible cast and an intriguing storyline. Clearly well researched the author has done a super job in bringing the cast to life. Witty, dry humour laces the plot and seals the deal. Very enjoyable reading.

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Four Thousand Days is set at the beginning of the 20th century in and around University College London; but it isn't dry and dusty. There are plenty of academic jokes (I like the Jeremy Bentham ones), but they don't take away from the story if they're not to your taste. (Honorary) Dr Margaret Murray is the main character: an archaeology lecturer, clever, unconventional, small in size but big in character. She's concerned when a student of hers is murdered and enlists the likeable Constable Crawford to help her solve the mystery. Then retired detective Edmund Reid gets involved. Who's killing people involved in a Roman dig, and why? There's a fine sense of place, with period details bringing 1900s London alive. Flashes of delightful dry humour enliven the authorial voice, especially when describing the workings of Margaret's mind.. And I enjoy this version of Edmund Reid, short, bearded, balding, most unlike the Ripper St Reid. So far so good. But there are minus points. The opening is confusing, which is not the best start.. Who are these people? When is it set? I had to trust that it would improve, and it did, but flicking through this book in a library or bookshop I'm not sure I'd have bothered to go on. The pacing is patchy. It can gallop along, with plenty of surprises and the momentum to keep the reader eager to find out what happens next. But there are too many ''humorous' scenes with students talking to one another, which slow things down, distract, aren't funny, and don't seem to add anything to the plot. (And I got fed up with so many women students giving up their studies.) It's the ending that lets it down most, for me. Why just drop in the fact that the character who turns out to be the murderer has killed before as a throwaway snippet of reported thought? Maybe it was flagged enough for other people to tell, but not for me. It's far too tell-y and, frankly, feels like cheating. Though Margaret's sang-froid at the time is a treat to read. And her decision at the end is deeply unsatisfactory, though I understand why it had to be that way (there will be more books in this series). It doesn't seem in character. It also explains the otherwise obscure title. In spite of these drawbacks, I did enjoy the book. Will I read the next one? Probably. But I hope these are glitches that will be ironed out by book two.

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A thoroughly entertaining mystery story. Margaret Murray is a lecturer in archeology at University College, London in 1900. When one of her students is found dead, she sets out to find the truth, aided by a young police constable, a retired detective inspector, the owner of the local café and some of her students As usual M J Trow writes an easy to read narrative backed with a gentle humour. The characters are distinctive and very likeable. A delightful read and I look forward to reading the next in the series.

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224 pages 5 stars Constable Adam Crawford is settling a dispute in front of a tenement in the middle of the night when it is decided to visit the young woman who is the source of all the fuss. Crawford finds her dead body in the residence. DI Athlegar Blunt who has a superior attitude immediately dismisses the young woman’s death as suicide. He goes on to say that she was a prostitute - without any evidence. But Constable Adam Crawford who found the body believes otherwise. The young woman’s name was Helen Richardson (a/k/a Helen Groves). and she was an archeology student in Margaret Murray’s section. When Margaret hears of her death, she feels duty bound to look into it. She, like Constable Crawford, doesn’t believe it was a suicide. Margaret begins her investigation with the help of some unlikely people, including retired Inspector Edmund Reid. Then another woman archeology student is found murdered on the beach. She apparently was “on the game” as well as Helen. When a professor at the college is murdered in his office, Margaret finds him. DI Blunt answers the call, but fortunately Inspector Reid shows up and wrests the case from the bumbling Blunt. (Perfect name for the idiot, if you ask me.) When Blunt arrests the wrong man for the crimes, Margaret, Crawford, Reid and the others are in a race to save him. The murderer turns out to be a surprise - at least for me. The reason for the murders is explosive. This is a delightful little novel. It is well written and plotted. It reads in a linear fashion and the transitions are flawless. I thoroughly enjoyed this book. I liked Margaret a great deal (and her owl), and Reid. They’re made for each other in my opinion. Mr. Trow writes non-fiction as well and they are those that I have previously read. This is my first work of fiction of his. I surely hope to read more about Margaret Murray. I was very surprised and pleased to learn that she was a real person. I want to thank NetGalley and Severn House for forwarding to me a copy of this great book for me to read, enjoy and review. The opinions expressed here are solely my own.

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Indiana Jones in a skirt. That's M.J. Trow's latest protagonist, Margaret Murray. The only female lecturer in the archaeology department at University College, London in 1900, Murray pulls out the magnifying glass when one of her students is murdered. Murray actually was an archaeology lecturer and many of the people she asks for help are real too: The investigator in the Jack the Ripper case, Rudyard Kipling, William Flinders Petrie, Jeremy Bentham. She even visits the founder of the Salvation Army to research prostitution. Trow's Murray is liberated, forthright, witty and brilliant. Her investigation turns up an artifact that leads to a shocking, satisfying conclusion. Bring on book two!

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1900, London, archaeologist, university, professor, ex-cop, murder, murder-investigation, historical-fiction, historical-figures, historical-research, history-and-culture, historical-setting, amateur-sleuth, sly-humor, class-consciousness, private-investigators***** Professor Margaret Murray and Egyptologist Flinders-Petrie were real as is University College, London. The problems of class distinction and severe bias against women mitigated a little since then. The story is good whodunit fiction. The publisher's blurb is a good hook, and I don't do spoilers, but I loved this fun read that has so many things that interest me (law enforcement, amateur sleuths, archaeology, sleuthing with due diligence) and even has a little romance going on between a university student and a constable. Awaiting the next in series! I requested and received a free e-book copy from Severn House via NetGalley. Thank you!

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Constable Adam Crawford doesn't believe that Helen committed suicide so he approaches Dr Margaret Murray (a real person!) to help figure out what truly happened to her student. Turns out Helen had secrets and that her murder is only the start of an unusual case involving archeological finds and academic rivalries. It's an interesting and atmospheric read. I did a little more research on Murray- what a fascinating woman. Thanks to Netgalley for the ARC. I'm looking forward to the next one.

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The real Margaret Murray was an archeologist, folklore scholar and anthropologist. In Four Thousand Days, M. J. Trow sets her loose at University College, London amidst a group of young students and murder. The characters are interesting, the setting is wonderful, and the mystery full of red herrings and real clues. The fictional Margaret Murray is a great addition to the amateur detective ranks, and I hope we get to read more about her. I voluntarily read and reviewed an advanced copy of this book. All thoughts and opinions are my own.

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