Saturday, 23rd September 2017
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Author oscar de muriel : Published by penguin : Price 10.10 euro

by Marco Vichi Translated by Stephen Sartarelli Published by Hodder & Stoughton Price €25

This is the third book in a series of novels featuring detectives Nine Nails McGray and Ian Frey who have been specially tasked to investigate crimes with a paranormal aspect to them.

In this particular case they are asked to look into a series of crimes involving a production of Macbeth which seems to be haunted by the presence of a banshee.

To those non-Irish readers who wouldn't have any background knowledge of what or even who a banshee is the whole phenomenon might have some level of mystery about it but for those readers who are Irish and will be fully aware of the legends surrounding banshees then quiet a lot of the book will be a rehash of what you might already know. And that doesn't really make for great reading. What isn't so well known are the large number of characters in this book who existed in real life and the way in which they are connected through their work in the production company that is putting on the play in Edinburgh. Funnily enough the most famous people in the book Ellen Terry and Henry Irving are not so well known now and the least famous person in the novel, Bram Stoker is the most famous today. The fact remains however that the company is being haunted by a banshee who is threatening to derail the plans of the acting troupe to premiere their production of Macbeth. There are two detectives who are tasked to look into what is happening at the company Ian Frey and Nine Nails McGray. The first is the younger and more wary of the two whereas Nine Nails with his own personal experience of the paranormal in his family is always ready to believe in the powers of the other world. This is the third novel in the series and whether it has to do with presence of the banshee in the book, the sheer number of characters all fighting for space or overly convenient plotting this book is the weakest so far. There is an absolutely huge cast in this novel and most of them get more than their fair share.

Also there is the fact that there is some very overly convenient plotting where culprits pop up at the last minute while all the time the evidence in the book is pointing at others. There are some writers who can easily handle a large cast of characters but on this outing de Muriel doesn'tappear to be one of them.

There is so much going on, so many tangents shooting off in all directions that it is hard to keep abreast of what is happening in the novel.

In the first two books there was a lightness of touch when it came to plotting and characterization that is completely missing here. The story is an interesting one but even then not all of it is teased out, such as Bram Stoker's one sided love affair with Henry Irving.

It's a book that you want to really like for the two strong main characters if nothing else but you find that your heart isn't really in it.

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