Thursday, 8 June 2017

Book Review: The Printer's Coffin (aka The Infidel Stain) by M.J. Carter



Book: The Printer's Coffin/ The Infidel Stain

Author: M.J. Carter

Pages: 384

Publisher: Penguin 

Read on: Kindle 

Read in: 5-6 hours over 2 days 

Plot Summary: London, 1841. Mr Jeremiah Blake and Captain William Avery, recently returned from India, are invited by Viscount Allington to examine the particulars of a grisly pair of murders. 

Two printers from the seditious gutter presses have been brutally dispatched in distinct but similar circumstances. Fearing the deaths will stoke the fires of Chartism sweeping the capital, Allington hopes Blake and Avery's determination to uncover the truth will solve these crimes and help restore civic order. But there are others who seem equally determined that the pair shall fail. 

General Thoughts: I read The Strangler Vine by M.J. Carter in 2014 and really enjoyed the book and the writing. I loved the attention paid to historical authenticity and details of the period in which the book was set. The combination of crime + historical fiction is my total sweet spot. Click here for book reviews and recommendations for this particular sub-genre. 

Things I Liked:

1. A serial killer operating in 1841 London! Read that sentence again and if you know anything about the kind of crime fiction I enjoy, you will know why I picked up this book! 

2. This book has a lot of great historical contextualising about England in the mid-19th century- the beginning of the Chartist movement, the demand for better living conditions for factory workers everywhere in England and this context has been beautifully woven in the book.

3. It was good to get re-acquainted with Blake and Avery. Both have been back in the Old Blighty for a while and neither is adjusting particularly well. Blake is living amongst the poor and downtrodden in the poor parts of London, where he is working as an Inquiry Agent (a detective of sorts) for an MP while Avery is living in his country home, where he is bored stiff of the country life and his annoying wife. 

4. The book is fairly fast-paced in spite of all the historical detailing and context setting, something which I always prefer in crime fiction. The moment the pace starts slacking, I lose interest. 

5. The crimes themselves are quite gory and there are some decent red herrings thrown in for good measure. There is also an interesting thread that connects all victims and we get to see yet another aspect of life in England in the early 19th century. 

6. There are also some nice, well-crafted characters in this book- ones you root for and grow to like over the pages. 

7. This book is a great read for those of you who enjoy their mystery books with a touch of historical fiction. The narrative moves pretty fast and the killer is not guessable that easily, which is always a good thing!

Rating: 4/5 

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