Reviews: Craig Russell, Scottish Historical Gothic mystery, and a twist on Stevenson’s Hyde (without Jekyll)

el

By Olga Nuñez

Hi all:

I bring you a book that will be published in a couple of days by a writer whose previous book I enjoyed. Recommended to readers of historical fiction who love a touch of the Gothic/horror.

Cover of the book Hyde by Craig Russell with a Celtic design, of three spirals in Gold, the triskelion, on a green and black background.
Hyde by Craig Russell

Hyde: A thrilling Gothic masterpiece from the internationally bestselling author by Craig Russell

When it comes to Gothic crime, Craig Russell is peerless. Absolutely stunning.’ – M W Craven
From international bestselling author Craig Russell comes a modern Gothic masterpiece.

Edward Hyde has a strange gift-or a curse-he keeps secret from all but his physician. He experiences two realities, one real, the other a dreamworld state brought on by a neurological condition.

When murders in Victorian Edinburgh echo the ancient Celtic threefold death ritual, Captain Edward Hyde hunts for those responsible. In the process he becomes entangled in a web of Celticist occultism and dark scheming by powerful figures. The answers are there to be found, not just in the real world but in the sinister symbolism of Edward Hyde’s otherworld.

He must find the killer, or lose his mind.

A dark tale. One that inspires Hyde’s friend . . . Robert Louis Stevenson.

Praise for Hyde:

‘Stephen King meets Robert Louis Stevenson… an imaginative gothic tale guaranteed to send a shiver down your spine the next time you walk a dark Edinburgh night.’ – David Hewson, author of The Garden Of Angels

‘Russell delivers a brooding, stunningly atmospheric tale set in Stevenson’s Edinburgh – multi-layered and intricately plotted, this is a Gothic thriller from the hands of a master.’ – Margaret Kirk, author of Shadow Man

‘A deliciously dark reimagining of a timeless character and a wonderful recreation of a gothic Edinburgh . . . Another winner for a consummate storyteller.’ – Douglas Skelton

‘Gloriously diabolical. A terrifying thrill ride through the hidden chasms of the human soul.’ – Chris Brookmyre, author of Black Widow

I absolutely adored it. Intense, harrowing and hugely entertaining. Craig Russell conjures the kind of spine-tingling tale that kept me reading through the night. Spectacular. – Chris Whittaker

‘The story is a thrilling ride through the murky depths of madness and horror, written with all Craig’s trademark skill and style. Definitely five stars from me’ James Oswald
‘A Gothic masterpiece which will lead you so far into the darkness that you won’t know who to trust. Another splendid offering from a writer who is top of his game. ‘ – Theresa Talbot

Praise for Craig Russell

‘A masterclass in suspenseful, character-driven prose fiction. Simply exceptional’
Frank Darabont, writer and director of The Shawshank Redemption and The Green Mile

Author Craig Russell
Author Craig Russell

About the author:

Award-winning author Craig Russell’s novels have been translated into twenty-five languages worldwide. Film rights to his forthcoming novel, THE DEVIL ASPECT, have been acquired by Sony Pictures/Columbia Pictures. The LENNOX series has been acquired by BAFTA award-winning Synchronicity Films for adaptation into a returning TV series. The first television adaptation in Germany, by Tivoli Films, of a Jan Fabel novel attracted an audience of six million viewers. Four further novels have been made into films (in one of which Craig Russell makes a cameo appearance as a German detective).

Craig Russell:
* won the 2015 Crime Book of the Year (McIlvanney Prize) for ‘The Ghosts of Altona’
* was a finalist for the 2019 Wilbur Smith Adventure Writing Award
* was a finalist for the 2017 McIlvanney Prize for ‘The Quiet Death of Thomas Quaid’, the latest in the Lennox series;
* was a finalist for the 2012 inaugural Bloody Scotland Crime Book of the year;
* was a finalist for the 2013 Ellis Peters Historical Dagger;
* was a finalist for the 2012 Crime Book of the Year (McIlvanney Prize);
* won the 2008 CWA Dagger in the Library for the Fabel series;
* was a finalist for the 2007 CWA Duncan Lawrie Golden Dagger;
* was a finalist for the 2007 SNCF Prix Polar in France;
* is the only non-German to be awarded the highly prestigious Polizeistern by the Polizei
Hamburg.

Official website: http://www.craigrussell.com

Facebook Fanpage: https://www.facebook.com/craigrussellbooks

Twitter: https://twitter.com/thecraigrussell

https://www.instagram.com/craigrussellauthor

My review:

Thanks to Clara Diaz from Little, Brown Book Group UK and to NetGalley for providing me an ARC copy of this novel, which I freely chose to review.

I read and reviewed Russell’s novel The Devil Aspect (you can read my review here) and enjoyed the historical detail, the emphasis on psychological factors, and the Gothic/horror elements of the story, and there are many features I recognise here, although the setting is Scotland, Edinburgh to be more specific, the myths this time are Celtic, and the historical period is the Victorian era, at a time when Scotland has become a part of the United Kingdom, but not everybody is in agreement with that and/or with the imperialist drive of the British government. As was the case with the other novel, it is difficult to talk about the plot without revealing too much and spoiling some of the surprises —and there are plenty— to come, because the story is constructed as a mystery-cum-police procedural, combined with psychological/supernatural/dark Gothic-horror elements. The whole narrative is framed by a conversation between writer Robert Louis Stevenson and his friend Edward Hyde, where Stevenson tells Hyde that he is obsessed by the subject of the duality of the spirit, the fact that we all have a dark side that is hidden but might manifest itself in certain circumstances, but he feels unable to write about it. Hyde decides to tell him a relevant story, and the rest of the novel is the story which we are to assume managed to inspire Stevenson to write one of his most famous novels.

I have mentioned duality, and, in fact, multiple dualities and hidden identities are among the most important subjects of the story: Edinburgh (Scottish but also a part of the British empire; old/traditional and at the head of the industrial revolution, modernisation and electrification; prejudiced [against foreigners, sexual diversity, women…] and tolerant); Hyde, the main protagonist (decent and honest, but with a traumatic past, unable to tell the truth about his doubts and fears, and deeply concerned about the darkness within); secret and dark societies hiding behind socially acceptable fronts; moral crusades pretending to protect the public from terrorist risks… There are plenty of historical details about old Edinburgh, its characters, its institutions, its stories, its buildings… I am sure anybody who’s ever visited Edinburgh or who has dreamed of visiting it will be fascinated by this story, and will have plenty of places to add to their list, and they will view some pretty well-known locations under a different light. I was also inspired by the stories from Celtic mythology mentioned to research more on the subject, and there is much that intrigued me and kept me hooked onto the story. As this is a mystery and a historical police procedural, there are crimes, and despite (or because of) their ritualistic nature they are quite gross and gore, so caution is advised to those who prefer milder reads.

The story is narrated in the third person, mostly from Hyde’s point of view (although he is an unreliable narrator, as he experiences some strange visions and dreams, and also periods of blackout and lost time, when he doesn’t know what has happened, so separating the truth from his dreams is not always straight forward), although we also get some chapters or fragments of chapters from other characters’ perspective; like his psychiatrist and friend (who also hides some secrets of his own); Cally Burr, a wonderful female doctor (and my favourite character together with Hyde); Elspeth Lockwood, the daughter of a well-off family, and a pretty strong and determined woman (who is also pretty unreliable as a narrator); Hyde’s collaborators… Some of the other characters we only get to know through their interactions with the rest, like his boss; a mysterious leader/spiritualist and his right-hand man (who is fascinating as well); a man suspected of being a nationalist leader; a photographer who is more involved than he seems at first; relatives of the victims…

The story’s style is Gothic, not only because of the nature of the subject and the setting, but because it does reverberate with the style of the old novels of the period, and that includes the use of old Scottish words and terminology, and a pace that is more leisurely and less concerned with only advancing the story as most modern novels are. There is plenty of telling, including descriptions of locations, people, stories and detailed background of the mythology and the individual characters’ experiences that help create a credible and eerie Gothic atmosphere. But there is also much showing, as we experience some of the events from the point of view of the protagonists, getting to feel their confusion and puzzlement, and not knowing either if what we’re reading is happening or is a dream, or perhaps a state of consciousness somewhere in between. The different narratives alternate, and although it is clear whose perspective we are reading at any given time, it is important to keep one’s attention sharp, as is the case with police procedurals in general. Because there are some dark/Jungian/mythological/paranormal elements, I am not sure this book will work for purists of that genre, but there are plenty of twists, red herrings, false clues, and surprises, and those should keep most readers who love mixed-genres hooked and satisfied. There are also plenty of subjective and introspective moments for those of us who love to explore the recesses of characters’ minds, and although it is not a slow book, it allows readers time to ponder on the beauty of certain passages, and also to think about the deeper meaning of some of the experiences explored in the novel. As I tend to do, and because I want to avoid revealing any important points of the novel, I recommend future readers to check a sample of the book to help them decide if the style works for them.

Was I surprised by the ending? Well, I guessed some aspects of it (no, I won’t go into more detail than that), although quite late into the story, but not all, and yes, I enjoyed it. I would go as far to say that it was quite beautiful. It definitely worked for me.

So, do I recommend it? Yes, to those who are not purists of the police procedural, to readers who love historical fiction with a bit of a twist, who are not afraid of violent crime and dark and horrific subjects, who love unreliable narrators psychologically troubled, and especially those who aren’t looking for a stylistically modern narrative but are able to enjoy descriptions, precious writing, and language appropriate to the historical period. I intend to carry on reading Russell’s novels in the future and wonder where and when he’ll take me next.

Thanks to the publisher and the author for the novel, thanks to all of you for reading, and remember to like, share, comment, click, keep reviewing, smiling, and above all, keep safe!

Un comentario Agrega el tuyo

Deja una respuesta

Introduce tus datos o haz clic en un icono para iniciar sesión:

Logo de WordPress.com

Estás comentando usando tu cuenta de WordPress.com. Salir /  Cambiar )

Google photo

Estás comentando usando tu cuenta de Google. Salir /  Cambiar )

Imagen de Twitter

Estás comentando usando tu cuenta de Twitter. Salir /  Cambiar )

Foto de Facebook

Estás comentando usando tu cuenta de Facebook. Salir /  Cambiar )

Conectando a %s