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First look: Soot by Andrew Martin

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Andrew Martin has been writing some of the best World War I crime fiction around, with his Jim Stringer series. But the author is never afraid to explore and experiment, and last year he wrote Yellow Diamond, which detailed the lives and crimes of the overprivileged residents of Mayfair. Now he’s back in the historical vibe with a fascinating-looking mystery set in York in 1799, entitled Soot.

If you enjoy mysteries that come with maps, crime scene reports, letters from the villain and other clues, you’ll love what Martin and his publishers have done here. The dead man is Matthew Harvey, stabbed with a pair of scissors. Harvey was a shade painter, a creator of silhouettes which people would keep in lockets or hang on their walls to remind themselves of their loved ones. The scissors were his tools for cutting out the silhouettes of his subjects, as was the fashion back in the day.

So, Harvey is dead, but his son commissions a debtor called Fletcher Rigge to investigate the killing. It’s a strange proposition but if he finds the culprit his debts will be wiped. The clues he has include six shades – silhouettes of the last people Harvey worked for before he was killed. Perhaps one of them was the killer, or knows who did it? Trouble is, there are no records of who they were and, as it cleverly states in the press release, Rigge must enter a world of shadows to find them.

Soot comes out 6 July from Corsair at £14.99 for the hardback, or £7.99 for Kindle. You can pre-order a copy from Amazon below.


Silhouettes of the six suspects – have you seen any of them?


We’re liking the cover design.


Space has been left in the early proof copy where the silhouettes will sit in the text, making for a multimedia mystery experience.


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