Sherlock Holmes meets the X-Files in de Muriel’s standout debut, a creepy and atmospheric whodunit set in 1888. Scotland Yarder Ian Frey’s career appears to be over when his mentor, Commissioner Sir Charles Warren, is forced from office by Lord Salisbury, the British prime minister, after Frey’s failure to apprehend Jack the Ripper. Then Frey gets an unexpected reprieve from Salisbury, who appears in his rooms and asks him to travel to Edinburgh to probe the murder of Guilleum Fontaine, a virtuoso violinist. The prime minister is concerned that Fontaine’s death will spark fears that the Ripper has inspired imitators poised to strike all over Great Britain. Frey’s presence in Scotland is to be explained by his ostensible assignment to a special police unit that investigates ghosts and goblins, headed by the eccentric Inspector McGray, known as Nine-Nails. Frey and McGray quickly develop an uncomfortable working relationship, premised on trading insults, as they look into the grisly and puzzling murder. Fontaine was eviscerated in a locked room the same day he was heard playing an eerie melody popularly attributed to the devil. De Muriel matches the intricate mystery with a clever solution. (May)
"Well-written with colorful characters and relatable developments. Recommended without hesitation."
"A hugely entertaining Victorian mystery."
The New York Times Book Review
"This is wonderful. A brilliant, moving, clever, lyrical book?. I loved it. Oscar de Muriel is going to be a name to watch."
"The numerous plot twists are likely to keep readers turning the pages. Entertaining and briskly paced."
Historical Novels Society
"Detailed historical context, spine-tingling occult overtones, and witty characterization create a gripping story. Fans of Alec Grecian's and Will Thomas’ gritty Victorian tales will want to see more of Frey."
"I enjoyed this—properly creepy and Gothic."
"The relationship between the two detectives and Oscar de Muriel's sparkling dialogue really elevate this murder mystery. Great wit and humor are on display as the cops gradually learn to appreciate each other's skills and intelligence, all the while sparring with great gusto. With such a colorful background, intriguing characters and a satisfyingly twisting plot, The Strings of Murder is a pleasure to read."
"A great Victorian gothic romp. This should build into a lovely series."
A hugely entertaining Victorian mystery.
Marilyn Stasio - The New York Times Book Review
The numerous plot twists are likely to keep readers turning the pages. Entertaining and briskly paced.
The Historical Novel Society
Detailed historical context, spine-tingling occult overtones, and witty characterization create a gripping story. Fans of Alec Grecian's and Will Thomas’ gritty Victorian tales will want to see more of Frey.
A great Victorian gothic romp. This should build into a lovely series.
One of the best debutsso far this year. A brilliantmix of horror, history, and humour.Genuinely riveting withplenty of twists, this will keep you turning pages. It'sclever, occasionallyfrightening andsuperbly written. The Strings Of Murderiseverything you need in a mystery thriller.”
As Jack the Ripper plies his sanguinary trade in 1888 Whitechapel, Inspector Ian Frey, his boss and patron ousted from Scotland Yard, is dispatched to Edinburgh to help solve what turns out to be an equally gruesome series of murders. The death of violinist Guilleum Fontaine, stabbed and disemboweled, was so grisly that the authorities would think it Jack's own handiwork if the notorious Ripper hadn't presented a fresh victim in London only a few hours later. Was Fontaine's killing the work of a copycat? Frey and Inspector Adolphus McCray, whom he's been detailed to assist, don't agree on much of anything—McCray's idea of detecting, for instance, is to set the scraps of physical evidence before that renowned clairvoyant Madame Katerin —but they soon come to agree that the Edinburgh killer has a distinct program of his own, one that seems to strike down everyone who dares to play one of the storied violins Fontaine's left behind. Theodore Wood, the conscientious, untalented conservatory student who inherited "the Maledetto," his Amati, had better watch himself. So had Alistair Ardglass, the dean of the conservatory, even though he didn't inherit Fontaine's Stradivarius himself. Maybe even Elgie, Frey's youngest brother, who's come to Edinburgh to play first violin for Sir Arthur Sullivan's latest opera. Will the salt-and-pepper cops interrupt the florid bickering in which they're both seriously overinvested long enough to put together the pieces and identify a killer who seems to have flown in from the dark side of the moon? De Muriel's debut offers nonviolinists ghostly, ghastly apparitions, unappealing accounts of unspeakable pub meals, and a steady drip of Had-I-But-Known foreshadowing and backshadowing. A series seems inevitable.