Waterloo sunset – Martin Edwards

I seem to be making a habit of starting series at the wrong end. Martin Edwards’ mystery series starring Liverpool lawyer Harry Devlin has been around for quite some time, but I’ve only just picked up the latest book, Waterloo Sunset. I really only became aware of Martin Edwards when I discovered the Lake District series which I love. I’ve reviewed the fourth book in the series, The Serpent Pool, here. I can’t wait for the next Lake District book but, until then, I thought I should give Harry Devlin a try. I loved Waterloo Sunset. All the books in the series have 60s pop songs as titles even though they’re contemporary novels & I found myself humming Waterloo Sunset as I read & even when I wasn’t reading. Clever marketing ploy or an insidious way to mess with reader’s minds? I’m still undecided on that… Harry is a really appealing character. There’s enough of his history in the book to give you a sense of who Harry is which is useful for a reader coming to the series fresh but it wouldn’t be annoying for someone who has read the whole series. This is something I find fascinating with crime series & I’ve read interviews with authors where it comes up as a dilemma. How much of the hero’s backstory should be rehashed in every book? New readers need some context but does it put off the fans? Sue Grafton is another author who does this really well in her Kinsey Millhone series. Anyway, I very soon came to like Harry Devlin. He & his partner, Joe Crusoe, have just moved into swanky new offices after their previous building was demolished. Liverpool is becoming trendy & Harry doesn’t like it. The building has no character, no soul & the security leaves a lot to be desired which becomes important to the plot. Harry is also uneasy about the fact that his new landlord is Caspar May, a man with his hand in many dodgy projects, & Caspar’s ex-wife Juliet is living in the apartments above the offices in the new building (called John Newton House, named after the slave ship owner who repented, found religion & wrote the hymn Amazing Grace). Harry & Juliet had an affair while she was married to Caspar & that moment of madness continues to disturb Harry. He’s also disturbed by a letter he receives containing his own obituary. The date of his “death”, Midsummer’s Eve, is only a few days away, & Harry can’t shake off the feeling of dread associated with it. When his office is trashed, he begins to think the death threat is connected to one of his cases, but which? He also becomes involved in the investigation into the murder of two young women who had both been working as escorts for an escort agency owned by Caspar May. When a third woman, who had turned to Harry for help with her violent partner, is murdered in the same way, Harry is determined to investigate. I read half of the book in one big gulp & could hardly wait to get home from work last night to finish it. This is a terrific mystery with a plot that kept me guessing. I’d love to read the earlier books in the series.

5 thoughts on “Waterloo sunset – Martin Edwards

  1. Is it possible – without giving anything away with regard to the plot – to explain how he manages to get away with using a pop song about part of London for the title of a novel set in Liverpool? Is it, by any chance, a reference to the Waterloo that is about six miles north of Liverpool, and just around the corner from me?

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  2. David, it is Liverpool's Waterloo that is referred to in the book although Martin Edwards does say in a note that he's rearranged Liverpool a little to suit himself. Harry never leaves Liverpool. Have you read the books? I imagine a Liverpudlian would enjoy knowing the locations.

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  3. Lyn, thanks for letting me know. I'll have to try this series now, and for me that always means going back to the start. I'm one of those who insists on reading series in chronological order. I must get back to Martin Edwards Lake District series too. Whilst I had some reservations about the first one, on balance the positives outweighed the negatives. I was also comparing it against some very tough benchmarks in the form of Stephen Booth's Peak District crime series and Susan Hill's Simon Serailler books.

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  4. David, I think all the earlier Harry Devlin books are out of print. I'd like to read them too. Luckily, my library seems to have them so libraries or secondhand seem to be the way to go. I love Susan Hill's series too. I'm looking forward to the new one coming out soon. I haven't read any Stephen Booth although I'm aware of the series. Do I have room in my life for another crime series? Oh well, I've just added Ann Cleeves so why not?

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