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MOTV review at 'The Bookeaters'

 

London in the grip of the dark valley of the 1930s is the setting for Phil Lecomber’s debut novel, Mask of the Verdoy. Deep in the murk and smog of the seedier side of London, George Harley, WWI veteran and private detective, encounters a young rent boy on the wrong end of a vicious beating. He rescues him, shelters him and ultimately vows to find his killer when the boy is murdered in George’s home. His investigations soon lead him to uncover corruption in the Metropolitan Police, scandal in the upper classes and a potential Fascist coup… no, this is not an ordinary murder mystery!

It was with some trepidation that I began this book; described as a crime thriller/ historical fiction, this book had the power to either delight or enrage me. As those who know me can attest, my view is that if you’re going to describe a novel as historical fiction, it had better be well researched and accurate!

And I need not have worried… Mask of the Verdoy is rich in accurate and atmospheric detail. A complex plot and fully realised characters, some of whom are clearly inspired by real-life politicians, join intense storytelling to create a very enjoyable read.

George Harley is an engaging protagonist; complex and full of real emotions and flaws, he has a very distinct voice and was very believable. The secondary characters were just as diverse and rich, enhancing the story with their inclusion- even those with a passing mention.

Much is made in other reviews of Lecomber’s decision to include dialogue formed of meticulously researched historical slang. This was actually quite off putting to start with and I wasn’t sure if I wanted to continue the book, particularly when combined with the very detailed descriptions of the scenes. However, before I could consciously make the decision to stop I was suddenly engrossed and lost in the pages!
I read an interview online with the author and when asked about this and the London-centric plot,  he replied “I understand there’s a gamble there – especially with the use of slang – but I’d like to think that once you’re past chapter two the plot will have caught you in its grasp, and there’ll be no turning back.”
I wholeheartedly agree with him here. Get through the first chapter and you will be hooked.

 

RACHEL BRAZIL

 

Reviewed at: The Bookeaters

 

 

 

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