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George Mann

Titan Books
12 September 2017 / ISBN 9781783294091
Contemporary British Mystery

Reviewed by Rachel A Hyde


Elspeth’s childhood home backs onto the mysterious Wychwood, an ancient area of woodland in the Oxfordshire village of Wilsby-under-Wychwood. Following the break-up with her partner and the loss of her job in London she comes home to her mother to work things out, and walks straight into a murder. A young woman has been found dead just outside her house, and the body has been arranged to mirror that of an old legend. The story of the Carrion King, a local magician who held court here back in the 9th century has been enjoying a revival thanks to a play, but now it looks as though somebody is taking it further. Journalist Elspeth is keen to investigate for herself.

The sub-genre of modern mysteries having roots in the past has become popular of late, and if you are a fan of Kate Ellis, Elly Griffiths and Sarah Rayne this new novel ought to appeal. It has all the ingredients that make such a story entertaining – a setting steeped in its past, a spooky legend, weird murders and a pair of engaging sleuths. Elspeth freelances for a local paper and meets up with childhood friend Peter who has become a policeman; together the pair help solve the case. I am not sure how much the police would relish having an amateur along and Elspeth manages to see just about all the bodies (quite a pile of these) but it does make for a lively tale. I do hope that this is going to be the first in a series as it holds its head up with the other novels of this type and ticks all the relevant boxes. Highly readable with a wonderful “legend” that would make for a good book in itself; don’t miss this treat.

Reviews of other titles in this series

Wychwood #1
Hollowdene #2

UK Reviewer: Rachel Hyde's work can be found in The Bead Magazine, Making Jewellery and

Reviewed 2017