1930, London. An enigmatic heiress, a family secret and the thirst for justice. A headless corpse; an apparent suicide in a locked room; a man burned alive during an illusionist’s show in front of thousands of people. Scotland Yard is baffled by the sequence of ghastly murders unfolding across the city and at the centre of it all is mysterious heiress Rachel Savernake. Daughter of a grand judge, Rachel is as glamorous as she is elusive.
Jacob Flint, a tenacious young journalist eager to cover the gruesome crimes, is drawn into Rachel’s glittering world of wealth and power. But as the body count continues to rise, Jacob is convinced Rachel is harbouring a dark secret and he soon becomes part of a dangerous game that could leave him dancing at the end of the hangman’s rope if he pursues the truth.
Gallows Court is a mystery novel that reminds us of classic detective stories. Only this one is much more twisty and full of despicable characters. What I loved more about this book at first is that it gets interesting as soon as it starts. You’re the witness of a conversation you don’t really know what’s about and you read about a crime that’s not your traditional one. And then there’s Rachel, of course. The woman at the centre of it all, as the blurb appropriately says.
Jacob Flint is the hero of this book, our dear main character and the victim of a conspiracy that seems too big to understand at first. He’s likable, he’s fun to be around and he’s tenacious, he will never stop trying to find out what’s really going on. When he becomes obsessed with Rachel, we know he’s determined to uncover her secret, even if it seems impossible at first.
I found Rachel’s character to be completely fascinating. It’s one of those situations where you don’t really know if a person’s pure evil or there are actually good reasons behind their actions. But you can’t wait to find out. But Rachel’s not the only female character I loved here. I really appreciate how Martin Edwards has created such multi-layered female characters in Elaine and Sara as well. Even if it’s the 1930’s, women also have things to say. This is one of the details that made me appreciate the book even more.
Although I did guess part of the mystery, the story was incredibly twisty and full of surprises. If you enjoy traditional mysteries with compelling characters and a dose of psychological suspense, then Gallows Court is perfect for you!
Martin Edwards is internationally recognised as an expert on crime fiction and has won the Edgar, Agatha, H.R.F. Keating, and Dagger Macavity awards as well as being shortlisted for the Theakston’s prize and the CWA John Creasey Dagger. He is President of the Detection Club, Chair of the CWA and consultant to the British Library’s bestselling classic crime series.