Welcome to Murder by the Book's blog about what we've read recently. You can find our website at www.mbtb.com.

Saturday, July 25, 2009

Waterloo Sunset, by Martin Edwards (hardcover, $22.95)

Although we have the privilege of being able to read Martin Edwards' Lake District mysteries, his Harry Devlin books, of which there are eight, are largely unavailable in the United States. I know I can't be the first to say how unfortunate we are. Poisoned Pen Press has this ninth Harry Devlin available in hardcover and large print paperback. And that's it.

Harry is a magnet for lost causes. He does criminal defense and divorce work as a solicitor in Liverpool. His clients are sometimes unhappy with the result of his work, so it's no surprise when Harry receives the cryptic message, "In Memory, Harry Devlin, Died suddenly, Liverpool, Midsummer's Eve." Midsummer's Eve is only a few days away, and even though Harry pooh-poohs the note as a prank, the author of the note isn't done with him.

Not that it takes Harry's mind off the upcoming deadline, but a serial killer is attacking women in Liverpool. Through his many connections, Harry learns more than he wants to about the cases. When one of the women is someone Harry knows and likes, someone whom he is trying to help when she is murdered, and when Harry's law partner is attacked and lies on the brink of death, Harry's involvement becomes personal. With the help of a female coroner, whom he hopes will become more than a friend, and a former lover, the ex-wife of a powerful criminal lord, Harry seeks unconventional ways to find both the killer and the person who is taunting him.

Martin Edwards is himself a solicitor in Liverpool, but his book is not about the legal system. It is very much about human frailty and about a man who is seeking to re-anchor himself in life. While I was entertained by Waterloo Sunset, I admit that I enjoy the Lake District series more. Edwards writes it with a kinder touch. Liverpool is a big city and life there is nastier. Edwards' language and plot reflect that.

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