Scent of Death Reviews

Category: Reviews

Scent of Death

Earlier this year, we offered two Killer Readers the chance to review Andrew Taylor’s book, Scent of Death. Yesterday, Andrew was awarded the Ellis Peters Historical Dagger for Scent of Death, the third time he has won the award! Let’s see what the reviewers thought…

I confess I am addicted to reading historical thrillers. It is a pure escapism for me. There’s nothing better after a long difficult day than to snuggle in bed with a book and get engrossed in the murder mystery set in the times long past. Having thoroughly enjoyed The American Boy by Andrew Taylor, I was excited to get hold of Taylor’s latest novel The Scent of Death.

If you are a fan of the historical thriller genre, you might have come across some pretty mediocre examples of it, where the plot often does not hold water and the characters seem to be totally implausible.

Andrew Taylor has created a gripping detective story, with a convincing plot and compelling characters.

Taylor has chosen a fascinating period of history: the novel is set during the American War of Independence.

The pace is teasingly slow at the start, the style of writing is exceptionally good.

You get the taste of how good the writing is from the very first lines: “This is the story of a woman and a city. I saw the city first, shimmering from afar like the new Jerusalem in the setting sun. I smelled the sweetness of the land and sensed the nearness of green, growing things after the weeks on the barren ocean… It was Sunday, 2nd August 1778”

The story is narrated by Edward Savill, a London clerk from the American Department. He is assigned to New York to investigate the claims of dispossessed loyalists who are evicted from their lands by the republican rebels. You get the insights into the routine horros of the civil war, injustice, internal contradictions, tough conditions and precariousness of life.

Savill is billetted with the respected Wintour family. The enigmatic Arabella Wintour is the heroine who appears in the first sentence of the book and who would propel the story to its unforgettable end.

Savill is a sympathetic and observant story-teller.

The narrative is visually dramatic and marvellously atmospheric, the darkness hiding the danger and proving treacherous, the light – be it shimmering candles or glowing windows – highlighting the facial features and revealing the mysteries. Flashes of light and darkness are symbols of the human nature, as almost each character in the book has a secret they want to hide.

The title of the novel is quite apt, as the scent of death follows you from the beginning, with the memorable description of the “merman” in the sea, the graphic scene of execution, with more deaths to follow, coming to a very poignant attempt of escape of the ice and the most intense and agonizing dénouement.

You can also read this 10/10 review on the reviewer’s blog.

Time for review #2, from Alison Campbell…

Set in 1778, , during the American War of Independence an English clerk, Edward Savill has been ordered to sail to New York to investigate claims of property that’s been plundered from the Loyalists by rebels. After a long, arduous journey it isn’t long until he is swept up a city shrouded by smoke and underlying violence, and he soon finds himself investigating his first murder. Whilst in New York, Edward lodges with the Wintours, a family with their own troubles and dark secrets, and soon he becomes embroiled in their complicated lives. It isn’t long until realises his own life is in danger but doesn’t know who he can really trust.

This is the first time I’ve read anything by this author, despite it being extremely well written and atmospheric, the author failed to capture my attention until after a couple of hundred pages, and for the first time ever I nearly gave up on a book, but I’m so glad I persevered.

As the narrative continued, I was finally drawn into the story and thoroughly enjoyed the book.

I couldn’t help but compare today’s political, social divides and racial prejudices against those of 1778, and how sadly there’s not much change for the better.

The Scent of Death is a satisfying read deep on many levels, which challenges socio- economic views relevant today.

I would give it 4 stars.

Have you read Scent of Death yet? What did you think? It is published in paperback on Thursday this week! Pick it up at Waterstones or any good book retailer.

Homeland Series 2: a killer reads review

Category: News

This weeks review is brought to you by our very own Laura Deacon


For the next three months we have more to look forward to than ballroom dancing, Z-list popstars and upstairs-downstairs costume drama. Yes, Antiques Roadshow returned last night much to my joy!

But that’s not what I’m here to write about. Last night, nearly 3 million eager viewers tuned in to the return of Homeland. Each week we will write an episode review and we want to know what you think!

Be warned, there are spoilers contained in this review!

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Your reviews of Lucifer's Tears (continued…)

Category: Reviews

luciferstears1In September, we gave four readers a chance to review Lucifer’s Tears by James Thompson, a new name on the scandi-crime scene.

So what did our readers think? Read on to find out…

Helen Lowry writes:

This is a novel featuring Inspector Kari Vaara, set in the freezing snow of Finland. A woman’s body is found tortured and brutally murdered, with her lover lying next to her covered in blood. On the face of it, it looks straightforward, but Vaara isn’t convinced he lover is the murderer, if only due to the fact that both parties had been tasered.

The woman’s arrogant husband, Ivan Filippov, shows very little emotion at his wife’s death and becomes a suspect in Vaara’s eyes. The problem being, he is very well connected in the city and proves to be a more than worthy adversary of the detective. As the story moves on, Vaara discovers that Filippov is heavily into S & M and there are links with many of the city’s great and good, and wealthy. Always good for a potential cover-up and lack of discretion. Be warned, the book does have its share of a brutality, not just with the murder, but with equally brutal sex. The descriptions of S & M are fairly graphic and not for the faint hearted or timid.

As if one brutal murder isn’t enough to solve, Vaara’s boss asks him to investigate allegations regarding one of Finland’s war heroes as a possible war criminal. The problem being that the man in question was in the war with Vaara’s beloved grandfather, who might also have played a part in this. At the same time, his heavily pregnant wife’s brother and sister are over from the States. John, her brother, being a problem all of his own. His new detective partner is also a bit on the reckless side, adding to his problems.

Vaara suffers from excruciating migraines, controlled by pills and drink, and he doesn’t know whether this is down to all the stress he is under or something more sinister. His neurologist brother makes him a swift appointment for an MRI scan.

I thoroughly enjoyed this book, and can quite readily state it has that page turning quality. Apart from the main murder plot, there are plenty of sub-stories to keep the reader’s interest, and to wonder if they all tie in as the book draws to a conclusion. Plus, an interesting aside is an all too brief history of Finland, told as part of the narration.

Well recommended.

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