Blackstone Fell

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Pub Date 01 Sep 2022 | Archive Date 01 Sep 2022
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Description

Rachel Savernake investigates a bizarre locked-room puzzle in this delicious Gothic mystery from the winner of the CWA Diamond Dagger.

1930. Nell Fagan is a journalist on the trail of a intriguing and bizarre mystery: in 1606, a man vanished from a locked gatehouse in a remote Yorkshire village, and 300 years later, it happened again. Nell confides in the best sleuth she knows, judge's daughter Rachel Savernake. Thank goodness she did, because barely a week later Nell disappears, and Rachel is left to put together the pieces of the puzzle.

Looking for answers, Rachel travels to lonely Blackstone Fell in Yorkshire, with its eerie moor and sinister tower. With help from her friend Jacob Flint – who's determined to expose a fraudulent clairvoyant – Rachel will risk her life to bring an end to the disappearances and bring the truth to light.

A dazzling mystery peopled by clerics and medics; journalists and judges, Blackstone Fell explores the shadowy borderlands between spiritual and scientific; between sanity and madness; and between virtue and deadly sin.

Praise for Martin Edwards:

'Martin Edwards celebrates and satirises the genre with wit and affection... He leaves you wanting more.' The Times
'A pitch-perfect blend of Golden Age charm and sinister modern suspense.' Lee Child
'Edwards has managed, brilliantly, to combine a Golden Age setting with a pace that is bang up-to-date.' Peter James

Rachel Savernake investigates a bizarre locked-room puzzle in this delicious Gothic mystery from the winner of the CWA Diamond Dagger.

1930. Nell Fagan is a journalist on the trail of a intriguing and...


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ISBN 9781801100236
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PAGES 416

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Average rating from 33 members


Featured Reviews

This is the latest in Martin Edwards engaging historical crime series, with its echoes of the golden age of crime and strong elements of the gothic, featuring the strong willed and reclusive Judge's daughter, Rachel Savernake, with her strong sense of justice and remarkable gift for untangling mysteries. It is 1930, Nell Fagan is a journalist with a chequered career, she is on the trail of a dangerous mystery, in 1606, Edmund Mellor vanished from a locked gatehouse, 3 centuries later, it happens again with the disappearance of Alfred Lejeune. Nell is the new tenant of the 'cursed gatehouse', located in the remote Yorkshire village of Blackstone Fell, with its eerie and sinister landscape of moors, deadly bogs and caves, and an isolated cutting edge Sanatorium run by Professor Sambrook and his 2 children, Denzil and the scarred Daphne.

Nell, knowing there is someone intent on killing her, returns to London, deciding to tell Rachel of the mystery and the death of a Ursula Baker at the Sanatorium and the suspicions of her frightened son. An intrigued Rachel simply cannot resist investigating as she arrives in Blackstone Fell, despite the inherent dangers, there is a whiff of far too many 'accidental deaths'. She is helped by Clarion reporter Jacob Flint, working on exposing successful fraudulent spiritualist, Ottilie Curle, her close and loyal household of Clifford, Martha and Hetty, and, of course, Scotland Yard's Inspector Philip Oakes. There are secrets and deceptions galore below the surface of a seemingly idyllic village and its widely disparate residents, that include a Dr Carrodus and a still grieving Major Huckerby, as Rachel pieces together all the intricate parts of the most complex of puzzles.

One of the highlights for me is the denouement scenario organised near the end by Rachel, it is hugely fun and entertaining. The author skilfully pulls together the most compulsive and atmospheric of mysteries with a number of threads, and at the end he utilises 'cluefinders', often used by golden age of crime writers, here he identifes all the clues littered throughout the narrative, something which I think many readers will greatly appreciate. I adored this latest addition to this historical mystery series, it was a gripping read, with Rachel developing into a formidable sleuth to be reckoned with, I cannot imagine much slipping past her. I look forward with great anticipation to the next in the series. Many thanks to the publisher for an ARC.

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Blackstone Fell by Martin Edwards

Martin has done it again with Blackstone Fell .
A fabulous read that leaves you wanting more.
In the description of the moors of Yorkshire , the eerie , oppressive , keep looking over your shoulder feeling comes to you and the plot just adds to the atmosphere of it all.
I love the way most of his books are set in the wilds of the UK and are at the very heart of the story as a main character. Genius.

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This is new author and series to me and I have to say I loved it. It's a wonderfully atmospheric murder mystery in the era of the best Golden Age mysteries. Although I prefer an earlier era normally this attracted me because I read murder mysteries from various era's and being from Yorkshire I always love how it's portrayed as so dark gothic and brooding because that's obviously not how it is in the current age, I will be going back and getting the other two mysteries. To catch up and see if I can learn more about Rachel as she seems equally mysterious. I received an advance review copy for free, and I am leaving this review voluntarily.

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The third in the Rachel Savernake investigations is perfect for those who love a locked-room mystery. In 1606 a man vanishes from a locked gatehouse and three hundred years later, it happens again. Fast forward to 1930 and journalist Nell Fagan knows that Rachel is the best person to solve this issue. It’s pertinent of Nell, as just a week later, she disappears while looking into a series of unexplained accidental deaths at Blackstone Sanatorium. Compelled to find the truth, Rachel visits Blackstone Fell and it is the perfectly described setting for eyrie goings on. Rachel is aided by reporter Jacob Flint, who’s got his own reasons for being there (think fraudulent spiritualists and you’re on the money) and her loyal household. Cue a lot of puzzles and conundrums that Rachel must figure out before discovering the truth. It has a wonderful golden age of crime feel to it which many readers will appreciate.

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Blackstone Fell is the third book in Martin Edwards’ excellent Rachel Savernake mysteries. I still don’t feel like I really know the enigmatic Rachel, but I thoroughly enjoy her sleuthing with her household staff and friends.

Blackstone Fell is full of brooding Yorkshire landscape, fraudulent mediums, a sinister sanatorium and a high body count. The story moves along at a nice pace and the denouement is satisfying. An easy five stars from me.

I look forward to the next book in the series coming in 2023.

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I love escape rooms so this really intrigued me right from the start. IT was a gripping read that had a tense and sinister atmosphere. I couldn't put it down.

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Thanks to Netgalley/Head of Zeus for the opportunity to read an advance copy of the latest in the 'Rachel Savernake' series.

I loved the first two in the series, and this one tops the lot.

It's a wonderfully atmospheric murder mystery, evocative of the best in Golden Age mysteries.

Rachel Savernake is a great literary creation, incredibly intelligent, physically able, with a spine of steel, wrapped in the body of a petite, beautiful young woman.

She uses all of her attributes, some more subtly than others, to solve the various mysteries of Blackstone Fell.

I love the way the various story threads wrap together, and just when you think you know what's going on, the story twists again, but all the time, the clues are staring you in the face.

The denouement at the seance is great, a classic set up, but new at the same time, no easy feat for any writer.

So, another great adventure for Miss Savernake, and number four, 'Sepulchre Street' is out in May next year. Can't wait.

An easy 5 stars from me.

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Blackstone Fell

Rachel Savernake investigates a bizarre locked-room puzzle in this delicious Gothic mystery from the winner of the CWA Diamond Dagger.

1930. Nell Fagan is a journalist on the trail of a intriguing and bizarre mystery: in 1606, a man vanished from a locked gatehouse in a remote Yorkshire village, and 300 years later, it happened again. Nell confides in the best sleuth she knows, judge's daughter Rachel Savernake. Thank goodness she did, because barely a week later Nell disappears, and Rachel is left to put together the pieces of the puzzle. Looking for answers, Rachel travels to lonely Blackstone Fell in Yorkshire, with its eerie moor and sinister tower. With help from her friend Jacob Flint – who's determined to expose a fraudulent clairvoyant – Rachel will risk her life to bring an end to the disappearances and bring the truth to light.
A dazzling mystery peopled by clerics and medics; journalists and judges, Blackstone Fell explores the shadowy borderlands between spiritual and scientific; between sanity and madness; and between virtue and deadly sin.

It was the female characters that drew me into this interesting mystery that travels from London to the village of Blackstone Fell. Three particular women caught my eye through the novel: Cornelia ‘Nell’ Fagan, Rachel Savernake, and the minor character of Ottilie Curle. All three women are very different from the usual heroines of Gothic Literature, and from their own Victorian parents. In fact when I compared them with other women in the novel they don’t conform to the average respectable middle class lady. - the best bit! Nell drew me into the story first, perhaps because she’s best described as ‘a bit of a character’. Everyone in Fleet Street knows her and she’s a regular in all the hang outs including the pub. Nell smokes cheroots, drinks like a fish, earns a living as a journalist, is a bit loose with the truth and loved to tell a story. Recently she’s lost her steady job and has been scouting around for stories that might enable her to start freelance work. She stumbles on the mystery of Blackstone Fell and there’s nothing better than a locked room puzzle to get the cogs turning. She bravely decides to undertake research on the ground and where better to stay than the very gatehouse where the men disappeared. She soon gets the message that there are people still living in the village who don’t want this story investigated. Realising it’s more than she can manage alone she begrudgingly asks for the help of Rachel Savernake. Can they solve the mystery together?

Rachel is another independent woman, financially independent and fiercely intelligent. She loves to solve mysteries especially those involving murders. She’s incredibly observant and perceptive, knowing immediately when Nell is spinning a yarn or lying by omission. She has certain standards for those who work alongside her, expecting loyalty and complete honesty. When these standards aren’t met she is ruthless in her decision to dispense with people. There’s a ruthlessness about her too. When she finds information or solves a mystery, she doesn’t just hand over what she knows to the police. Sometimes that’s the right thing to do, sometimes she knows of a better way to dispense justice, whatever form that might take. One character suggests she plays God and there is an element of that in her personality; a certain arrogance that she’s right combined with a belief that only she knows the best way someone should pay for their actions. I was also fascinated by Tilly, the medium consulted by Nell who reappears in the story. She’s from a background of poverty, using the only gift she has to make a living. I was interested in the way her appearance is used in the novel. Like Martha, who looks after Rachel, Tilly is a marked woman. Martha has a scarred face from a burn, whereas Tilly has a scarred neck from a thyroid condition. Marked women have quite a history in Victorian fiction and they are often used to make a point, like Rosa Dartle in Dickens’s David Copperfield. Martha’s scars are a contrast, enhancing the beauty of the rest of her face. Tilly’s scars and her obesity are used more like a smoke screen. People’s prejudices around women who are marked or deemed unattractive, can throw them off the truth about a person. The fact that her servant is a ‘Moor’, is another aspect that’s unconventional. I thought Tilly might be well aware of how people see her and how she lives. What could she hide behind their assumptions?

I loved the novel’s setting. Blackstone Fell couldn’t be more gothic. Not only does the village have a creepy gate lodge where two men have disappeared: there’s a tower that looks more like a folly rather than a practical home; the river with it’s beautiful, but dangerous fall, where one wrong step could mean being dragged into the water and dashed to death on the rocks below; the endless fog and boggy ground of the moor has its own dangers. Then there’s the sanatorium, with it’s isolated location and mysterious residents, plus a vicarage where the fire and brimstone vicar seems to have a disintegrating relationship with his much younger and highly strung wife. Phew! It’s a lot to keep straight in my head.

The historical background is fascinating too. We’re between two world wars where so much change has occurred both for individuals and society. The social order has changed, with more upward mobility and more freedom and improved rights for women. I loved the power dynamics at play and the sense that these years are an inbetween space. The vicar and his wife illustrate that old Victorian tradition of women’s lot in life as compared to the independent paths that Rachel, Nell and even Tilly have carved out for themselves. Tilly’s success as a medium would partly be fuelled by the loss of loved ones, both in WW1 and due to Spanish Influenza. Through the medical men in the story, the author touches on the rise of Eugenics Theory at this time. The idea that there were weaker or lesser races, or hereditary disabilities that needed to be eradicated. Perhaps a way to rid oneself of an unstable wife or an old uncle with dementia, but also the gateway to Hitler’s Final Solution. The plot itself is an interesting puzzle, although at times I did flounder a bit to remember all the aspects or keep characters in order. I’m willing to accept this might be my brain at fault, so I really welcomed the clue finder at the end of the book that helpfully showed me where the clues were for every thread. There were twists right up to the final page so I defy anyone to work it all out, before Rachel explains her reasoning and unmasks the villains. This was an intelligent mystery, historically interesting, with solid female characters and a very unsettling backdrop to the action.

Appearing as part of the blog tour

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Blackstone Fell is the third book in Martin Edwards’s Rachel Savernake series. Although it helps to have read the earlier books in the series, I don’t think it’s essential. Rachel is a rich young woman who craves excitement and loves solving puzzles, especially those involving murder. Martha, Hetty and Cliff are her devoted staff and Jacob Flint is a journalist who she has befriended.

Nell Fagan is a journalist whose career is in decline. She’s desperate for a big story and thinks that she will get one by investigating a mystery in the hamlet of Blackstone Fell. A man went into Blackstone Lodge in 1606 and disappeared. The same thing happened in 1914; Alfred Lejeune, the owner, was seen entering the Lodge. He locked the door behind himself and was never seen again.

Nell tells Rachel that she went to Blackstone Fell to solve a murder. This must have rattled someone because a huge rock rolled down the mountain, nearly crushing Nell – it surely can’t have been an accident. Rachel declines to help Nell unless Nell tells her everything, holding nothing back. Unfortunately, Nell is secretive and mendacious and alienates Rachel. Then Nell returns to Blackstone Fell and disappears.

This is a superb book and repays very careful reading. The book is set in the 1920s – the Golden Age of Detection – when Agatha Christie, Dorothy L Sayers and others were flourishing. The author respects the traditions of the GAD, such as ensuring readers can solve the mystery by seeing / hearing the same clues. (Oh, and there’s a denouement with all the suspects gathered together!) At the end of the book, Martin Edwards (no relation to me, as far as I know) has given the reader a Cluefinder that tells us what clues he’s offered on which pages. I’m too embarrassed to admit how many I missed. After the opening pages, the book is mostly dialogue. Martin Edwards is very good indeed at each character’s “voice” – their pace of speech; their vocabulary; etc.. The book has various sub-plots: the disappearances from the Lodge; a medium who exploits vulnerable clients; the behaviour of the Fell’s residents; the deaths of patients at the local sanatorium. As one might expect, these strands are all resolved by the end of the book, but not how the reader might anticipate.

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Blackstone Fell is the third of Martin Edwards gripping historical crime novels and was one I thoroughly enjoyed. In 1930 Rachel Savernake investigates a bizarre locked-room puzzle while following the trail of her journalist friend Nell Fagan. Having stumbled upon an intriguing mystery and case of history repeating itself Nell is investigating the disappearance of a man from a locked gatehouse, the very same mystery that happened in 1606. Barely a week after Nell started her investigation she disappeared and Rachel is left to piece together the puzzle herself.

With a case to solve and a friend to find Rachel travels to Blackstone Fell in Yorkshire. The perfect gothic setting with its eerier and lonely moors and a sinister tower. With the help of her friend Jacob Flint, Rachel intends to bring an end to the disappearances and the truth to light no matter the cost.

I honestly felt this book had everything I could want from an historical mystery fiction. A story rich with character and imagination with elements of gothic and potential supernatural all swirled together in a beautifully eerie setting to keep the tense and suspension going. I particularly loved the little parts of the narrative here and there that strongly placed the novel in its time such as the reference to Arthur Conan Doyle in regards to his belief in spiritualism and the views of some of the characters all helped transport the reader back to 1930. On top of this the characters have amazing depth. The mystery was also done in such a way it did keep you guessing and it wasn’t easy to see how it would all end.

All in all Edwards has masterfully woven together a tight crime plot which keeps you guessing and engaged. All this blends together in a beautifully gothic setting that would make the Brontes proud.

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I am not in the least surprised Martin Edwards has won so many awards for his crime writing, as this is a mystery Poirot himself would revel in solving! Or more a string of mysteries which overlap and entwine.

The story is set mainly in the Yorkshire village of Blackstone Fell. Home of not one but several mysteries, unexplained disappearances and possible murders.

Nell Fagan, a London reporter, is approached by a man who believes his mother was murdered at the sanatorium in Blackstone Fell. Under a pseudonym she rents Blackstone lodge, pretending to be a photographer, so she can poke around. She is also interested in the disappearances of two men, spanning 300 years, from the very lodge she is renting. If she can get to the bottom of all of these mysteries she would have some fantastic scoops, and she would regain her standing in Fleet Street.

She is under no illusion that she is not capable of solving the mysteries singlehandedly, so approaches her friend Jacob, who is also a reporter, to ask him to help her persuade Rachel Savernake who has a reputation for solving extraordinary puzzles by playing amateur detective, to assist her in solving the disappearances.

Jacob is tasked by his boss to investigate and uncover the murky world of mediums and spiritualism, and Jacob begins to investigate the top spiritualist of the time, Ottilie Curle.

Yes by the end of the novel these two storylines will overlap.

It did take me a while to get into the book as there are so many characters but once the action and murders began I was consumed and blown away by the detailed plotting.

Brilliantly done and I will be reading more by this author, this being the first I have read.

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