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The Darker Arts

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Madame Katerina, Detective 'Nine Nails' McGray's most trusted clairvoyant, hosts a séance for three of Edinburgh's wealthiest families.The following morning everyone is found dead, with Madame Katerina being the only survivor. When questioned she alleges a tormented spirit killed the families for revenge.McGray, even though he believes her, must find a rational explanation that holds up in court, elrevenge.McGray,families.The Madame Katerina, Detective 'Nine Nails' McGray's most trusted clairvoyant, hosts a séance for three of Edinburgh's wealthiest families.The following morning everyone is found dead, with Madame Katerina being the only survivor. When questioned she alleges a tormented spirit killed the families for revenge.McGray, even though he believes her, must find a rational explanation that holds up in court, else Katerina will be sentenced to death.Inspector Ian Frey is summoned to help, which turns out to be difficult as he is still dealing with the loss of his uncle, and has developed a form of post-traumatic stress (not yet identified in the 19th century).This seems an impossible puzzle. Either something truly supernatural has occurred - or a fiendishly clever plot is covering a killer's tracks...


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Madame Katerina, Detective 'Nine Nails' McGray's most trusted clairvoyant, hosts a séance for three of Edinburgh's wealthiest families.The following morning everyone is found dead, with Madame Katerina being the only survivor. When questioned she alleges a tormented spirit killed the families for revenge.McGray, even though he believes her, must find a rational explanation that holds up in court, elrevenge.McGray,families.The Madame Katerina, Detective 'Nine Nails' McGray's most trusted clairvoyant, hosts a séance for three of Edinburgh's wealthiest families.The following morning everyone is found dead, with Madame Katerina being the only survivor. When questioned she alleges a tormented spirit killed the families for revenge.McGray, even though he believes her, must find a rational explanation that holds up in court, else Katerina will be sentenced to death.Inspector Ian Frey is summoned to help, which turns out to be difficult as he is still dealing with the loss of his uncle, and has developed a form of post-traumatic stress (not yet identified in the 19th century).This seems an impossible puzzle. Either something truly supernatural has occurred - or a fiendishly clever plot is covering a killer's tracks...

30 review for The Darker Arts

  1. 4 out of 5

    Thebooktrail

    Visit the locations For reasons unknown even to me, I wanted to read this at night. I'm not sleeping that well anyway at the moment so thought this would at least keep me entertained in the twilight hours. Can I just say - this WILL keep you entertained in those quiet hours and it's a brilliant time to enhance the spooky feel of the story (not that it needs it - Oscar's writing stands on its own!) Full review to come. 5 stars! Ever been interested in participating in a seance? well, that’s what you do in this book. There’s one h Visit the locations For reasons unknown even to me, I wanted to read this at night. I'm not sleeping that well anyway at the moment so thought this would at least keep me entertained in the twilight hours. Can I just say - this WILL keep you entertained in those quiet hours and it's a brilliant time to enhance the spooky feel of the story (not that it needs it - Oscar's writing stands on its own!) Full review to come. 5 stars! Ever been interested in participating in a seance? well, that’s what you do in this book. There’s one held at the start for a rich Edinburgh family and they want answers from the dead… A medium is employed for the dark task, and the evening is set up. Table, candles and an offering to give to the dead person. Then they begin. In the morning, all but one of the people in the room are dead – the medium. So, a clear and cut case, right? Not so fast…. A sceance. Six guests and the medium. The next day only the medium is alive and she states that she is innocent and woke up to a scene of carnage. No one believes her but it’s up to Frey and McGray to sort it all out. And they do – from the investigation to the trial to the denouement, they race around Edinburgh and further afield to sort out what appears to be a matter of the dark arts, the occult and a confession that a dark hand appeared to float above the table just before the lights went out. The chill factor is there from the start as is the confusion of the locked room mystery. There seems to be no suspects or clues as to what could have happened. The scene of the crime, the house of the victims, the home of someone far away from the city – the author evokes all locations and the atmosphere really well and I’m sure as I turned each page, a little puff of mist wafted in the air.. A suitably creepy read in the vein of the best locked room Christie style mysteries. The ending and denouement is interesting! Don’t read the author note at the end of the book before the story whatever you do! Spoilers galore of course. And the best bit? Frey and McGray’s banter and annoyance with each other. I just can’t enough of these two and their working relationship. There’s some very funny scenes when one drags the other from their bed and gapes at the many suitcases he has. Then there’s the trying to outdo each other, the snide remarks about the medium and the seance, the love of food and drink and the general Scottish vernacular and sense of humour. Oh a joy in other words. All in all, I was immersed inside a world of the dark arts, witchery goings on and the locked room mystery with a twist!

  2. 5 out of 5

    Lieselot Mauroo

    Another brilliant Frey & McGray story, captivating from start to finish. This one was a classic who done it mystery with a gothic twist and oh so intriguing to read. Again, very different from the previous books, but outstanding in its own way; holding my attention throughout the novel, keeping me on the edge of my seat at all times. I really have not much more to add than that Oscar de Muriel is a very gifted, talented and brilliant writer; in my opinion, one of the bes Another brilliant Frey & McGray story, captivating from start to finish. This one was a classic who done it mystery with a gothic twist and oh so intriguing to read. Again, very different from the previous books, but outstanding in its own way; holding my attention throughout the novel, keeping me on the edge of my seat at all times. I really have not much more to add than that Oscar de Muriel is a very gifted, talented and brilliant writer; in my opinion, one of the best writers out there at the moment. Also, the very final chapter of this book has gotten me incredibly exited for the next book, which I hope will follow soon.

  3. 4 out of 5

    AdiTurbo

    This series just gets better and better. Frey and McGray are wonderful characters who keep evolving. So are minor characters such as Mary and Katarina in this case. The plot was so suspenseful it kept me up reading at night, turning page after page frantically (until the solution finally dawned on me a few pages before the big reveal, I must admit, but it was still fun to read it). The background of dreary Scotland is somewhat less dominant this time, not an actual character like in previous nov This series just gets better and better. Frey and McGray are wonderful characters who keep evolving. So are minor characters such as Mary and Katarina in this case. The plot was so suspenseful it kept me up reading at night, turning page after page frantically (until the solution finally dawned on me a few pages before the big reveal, I must admit, but it was still fun to read it). The background of dreary Scotland is somewhat less dominant this time, not an actual character like in previous novels of the series, but still added atmosphere. In short, I will read anything this guy writes - he is a master of storytelling.

  4. 4 out of 5

    Kate

    This is an excellent series and I think this one might even be my favourite. It's one of those closed room mysteries (which I always enjoy) with a Victorian twist. Seven people take part in a seance and only the medium leaves the room alive. Inspectors Frey and McGray (Nine Nails) are such favourites of mine and it's good to see them again as we return to the darkly colourful and witty world of Edinburgh in the 1880s. Oscar de Muriel's writing, as always, is an absolute joy to read. Review to fo This is an excellent series and I think this one might even be my favourite. It's one of those closed room mysteries (which I always enjoy) with a Victorian twist. Seven people take part in a seance and only the medium leaves the room alive. Inspectors Frey and McGray (Nine Nails) are such favourites of mine and it's good to see them again as we return to the darkly colourful and witty world of Edinburgh in the 1880s. Oscar de Muriel's writing, as always, is an absolute joy to read. Review to follow shortly on For Winter Nights.

  5. 4 out of 5

    Connie

    Book number five in the Frey and McGray series. In this book, 'Nine Nails' McGray's trusted friend and Clairvoyant Madame Katerina hosts a seance for one of Edinburgh's wealthiest families. But the following morning the six who attended are found dead by the family's valet. Madame Katerina is the only survivor and is accused of the murders. As the whole of Edinburgh is baying for blood, the witch hunt begins. Frey and McGray are tasked with the impossible duty to ascertain what really happe Book number five in the Frey and McGray series. In this book, 'Nine Nails' McGray's trusted friend and Clairvoyant Madame Katerina hosts a seance for one of Edinburgh's wealthiest families. But the following morning the six who attended are found dead by the family's valet. Madame Katerina is the only survivor and is accused of the murders. As the whole of Edinburgh is baying for blood, the witch hunt begins. Frey and McGray are tasked with the impossible duty to ascertain what really happened at the seance - was it a malevolent spirit or a devious plot to commit murder? This is one of my favourite series, Mr De Muriel knows how to get you right in the feels one minute then laughing out loud the next. I've loved watching the relationship between Frey and McGray grow over the series and look forward to the next.

  6. 4 out of 5

    Yuthika

    I only realised it was the fifth book in the series after a few chapters - but by then, it was too late. I was really getting into the story! I liked the duo Frey & McGray. The contrasting personalities worked well together. The writing flows beautifully throughout the book. I may have noted a few inconsistencies while reading, but I cannot remember them now. I l also appreciated the ambiguities towards the last few chapters and how they all tied in together. Highly recommended!

  7. 5 out of 5

    Jayne Catherine pinkett

    I received a finished copy of this book from the publisher for my independent honest review. Thank you 3.5* I love this series and after the magnificence of Loch of the Dead I found this to be a little bland. I was so looking forward to the story focusing on Madame Katerina and I did enjoy it but my least favourite so far. The essence of Victorian Scotland is still captured very well, however the convoluted family tree of those involved in the seance disjointed the plot and my reading exper I received a finished copy of this book from the publisher for my independent honest review. Thank you 3.5* I love this series and after the magnificence of Loch of the Dead I found this to be a little bland. I was so looking forward to the story focusing on Madame Katerina and I did enjoy it but my least favourite so far. The essence of Victorian Scotland is still captured very well, however the convoluted family tree of those involved in the seance disjointed the plot and my reading experience somewhat as I had to keep referring back to the family tree diagram to fully understand it. I feel that McGray's character is getting more and more uncouth,more violent and unbalanced which I hope doesn't get any worse as in my opinion this would unravel the partnership between Frey and McGray which I've always loved. I enjoyed the continuation of this great series, however I didn't love it like I usually do. Looking forward to the next installment and so sorry Oscar this was a little disappointing.

  8. 4 out of 5

    TheManOfLetters

    Another well-crafted Victorian mystery by Oscar de Muriel. While still keeping with the usual hints at a possible supernatural connection, mainly by superstitious McGray, this is probably the most classical police investigation Frey & McGray have conducted so far. McGray's trusted clairvoyant Madame Katerina is accused of having murdered six people during a seance and the odd detective duo has a hard time trying to prove her innocence. Surprisingly enough, the lion's share of the investigati Another well-crafted Victorian mystery by Oscar de Muriel. While still keeping with the usual hints at a possible supernatural connection, mainly by superstitious McGray, this is probably the most classical police investigation Frey & McGray have conducted so far. McGray's trusted clairvoyant Madame Katerina is accused of having murdered six people during a seance and the odd detective duo has a hard time trying to prove her innocence. Surprisingly enough, the lion's share of the investigation is lead by Frey, who never exactly liked Katerina and still believes her to be a fraud. McGray actually takes a bit of a backseat, mainly because even he is aware that his usual antics and theories won't hold up in the court of law, at least for most of the time. From time to time, it's a bit hard to follow the investigation because of all the family entanglements and a relatively large number of involved characters. The legal proceedings also take up quite a large portion of first two thirds of the story and have a couple of lenghts, but the pacing is generally alright and keeps you interested. During the last third of the book, things start to unravel pretty quickly, the suspense multiplies and the "The Darker Arts" goes from "pretty good" to "great". On another note, I like how Frey and McGray have evolved throughout the series, including their relationship. Both have become very layered and wonderfully complex characters. While Frey outwardly still is an insufferable snob on many occasions, he also displays a huge capacity for compassion and empathy. He has also become more willing to think outside the box, which has arguably made him a better detective than McGray. McGray on the other hand still is his loud, foul-mouthed, sarcastic and sometimes grumpy self. All those character traits may manifest in very different ways and to different effect. Sometimes his outbursts are hilarious, sometimes they are outright scary and while his intentions are usually good, he is willing to use some questionable methods. But he has also become a bit more patient and is willing to not immediately jump to the most outlandish conclusions. And while they still treat each other quite roughly and with little obvious respect for each other, they somehow seem to have become friends and trusted allies, although both would probably deny it.

  9. 5 out of 5

    Kelly Daniel

    I am totally a fan of de Muriel and of the refreshingly irreverent McGrey and Fray partnership. In fact, I have given the previous novels rave reviews. I wanted so much to do the same here and I am glad to see that other readers have loved this instalment in the series; I'm sorry that I did not, this time. The story starts intriguingly enough but more and more the reader is bogged down in legalities, inheritance, deeds and so many false leads that far from an interesting conundrum we are faced w I am totally a fan of de Muriel and of the refreshingly irreverent McGrey and Fray partnership. In fact, I have given the previous novels rave reviews. I wanted so much to do the same here and I am glad to see that other readers have loved this instalment in the series; I'm sorry that I did not, this time. The story starts intriguingly enough but more and more the reader is bogged down in legalities, inheritance, deeds and so many false leads that far from an interesting conundrum we are faced with a tedious bird's nest of bureaucracy. Previously, the plots have belted along at a cracking pace; this time, I often felt the itch of my trigger finger on the fast-forward button - my loyalty to the series was the only thing that stopped me. I have noted the many readers preferred the greater 'reality' of this novel. I felt the dearth of the supernatural elements meant a considerable dimming in the excitement. Of course, the previous instalments weren't believable, who said they needed to be? The supernatural is a grey area but Oscar de Muriel's great art was throwing the reader headlong into a willing suspension of disbelief. I will read future instalments in this series but I hope the next one is more boo than bore.

  10. 5 out of 5

    J. Griff

    As promised my review. Oscar de Muriel is a amazing mystery writer! Yes I said it. This is his 5th book & he just keeps getting better & I love the character growth he is showing in Ian Frey from the first book "The Strings of Murder". The complexity of the murder was beyond me how anyone could come up with & Oscar tied everything up so neatly by the end. Now the reason for 4 stars & not 5 stars was the epilogue didn't feel quite genuine enough to me & felt slightl As promised my review. Oscar de Muriel is a amazing mystery writer! Yes I said it. This is his 5th book & he just keeps getting better & I love the character growth he is showing in Ian Frey from the first book "The Strings of Murder". The complexity of the murder was beyond me how anyone could come up with & Oscar tied everything up so neatly by the end. Now the reason for 4 stars & not 5 stars was the epilogue didn't feel quite genuine enough to me & felt slightly trite. I listened to the audio book & it would be wrong to not mention the wonderful performance of the narrator Andy Secombe. If you haven't taken the time to check out this series & love mysteries then pick these up next.

  11. 4 out of 5

    Brian Centrone

    I love spending time with these characters. 5 books in and they are like familiar friends you are so fully comfortable with and know so well. As always, the story builds to a heart-palpating finale with twists to spare. Always a satisfying conclusion and a tease for what lies ahead... I can’t wait for book 6!

  12. 4 out of 5

    Shay Zullo

    What a great story! I've read all of the other books in this series and I have to say this one was the best. I was hooked from start to finish. I had to find out how it ended. Thank you for writing such an entertaining series of books!

  13. 5 out of 5

    Munch

    Not quite as epic as the last book but still great. I love the banter :)

  14. 4 out of 5

    Donald

    Less dark and gory than the previous one, and back in Edinburgh again with plenty of banter and bickering. The ending seemed a bit rushed, with the race to the gallows a bit overdone...

  15. 5 out of 5

    Mariedeleie

    I didn't like this novel as much as the last ones. First me the interrogations go on and on, with too few clues to start me trying to guess .while did it.

  16. 5 out of 5

    Asnipiv

  17. 4 out of 5

    Pat

  18. 5 out of 5

    Liliana Verdugo

  19. 5 out of 5

    Alex

  20. 5 out of 5

    Clara

  21. 5 out of 5

    Tanja Rudnik

  22. 4 out of 5

    Thelma Sullivan

  23. 4 out of 5

    Clovis

  24. 5 out of 5

    Yvonne

  25. 5 out of 5

    Slashbabe

  26. 5 out of 5

    Laura

  27. 5 out of 5

    Crystal

  28. 5 out of 5

    Karen

  29. 5 out of 5

    Melanie (Mel's Bookland Adventures)

  30. 5 out of 5

    Amiee Murgatroyd

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