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Publisher's Summary

A mysterious woman pleads for the help of Inspectors Frey and 'Nine-Nails' McGray. Her son, illegitimate scion of the Koloman family, has received an anonymous death threat - right after learning he is to inherit the best part of a vast wine-producing estate. 

In exchange for their protection, she offers McGray the ultimate cure for his sister, who has been locked in an insane asylum after brutally murdering their parents: the miraculous waters that spring in a small island in the remote Loch Maree. The island has been a sacred burial ground since the time of the druids, but the legends around it will turn out to be much darker than McGray could have expected. 

Death and increasingly bizarre happenings will intermingle throughout this trip to the Highlands, before Frey and McGray learn a terrible truth. 

©2018 Oscar de Muriel (P)2018 Penguin Random House UK

Critic Reviews

"A hugely entertaining Victorian mystery." (New York Times)

 "I enjoyed this - properly creepy and Gothic." (Ian Rankin)

What members say

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  • Overall
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  • mollyeyre
  • 06-14-18

Not one of his best

This is still worth a listen, but I didn't think it was the best of the series. Things got just a little too silly, and some of the detail at the end seemed a trifle spurious. Nevertheless, I still enjoyed the book overall, and Andy Secombe was very good, as usual.
The main characters seems to be mellowing and are starting to show a little fondness for each other, this would be understanding in a long working relationship, but it lessens the vitriolic barbs that were very funny.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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  • Gregory
  • 07-25-18

Another cracker

I love these books Frey and Nine Nails are the perfect duo for spooky dealings.

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  • Anonymous User
  • 07-08-18

Awesome!

Andy Secombe really brings the characters to life. Great stories and plots. Love these books.

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  • F. Shaw
  • 07-05-18

A great follow up to an excellent series of books

A family curse, the desire to cure this curse, and to keep this cure from others, is our main storyline in this book. Treachery, family secrets, double crossing, misdirection, taboos, and murder. Everything you could want in a crime novel.

I should make it clear that my review is based on the unabridged audiobook, so some of my comments might not be relevant to the paperback or Kindle version. However, the only comment on the narrator is that you can clearly tell when one day’s recording ends and the next begins – his voice drops an octave or so over the day. Then when he starts the next day’s recording his voice is much higher and fresher. His range of accents and emphasis is excellent.

Like most of the Frey & McGray books The Loch of the Dead feels just ever slightly too slow to get going, we spend longer than is necessary setting up storylines before we get to the action of the main plot. Whilst it is fun that the story is set outside of Edinburgh it loses a little something in the process too, it feels slightly more dislocated than the preceding books. By only having the manor and islands to use as the backdrop some of the atmosphere is lost, particularly with the constant use of shadows and darkness in the house. This is an interesting motif, but gets a little tiresome after a while, there are only so many ways you can describe darkness.

The use of piano playing to set the mood is a clever idea that I enjoyed, it became as if the book had its own soundtrack built in, playing only in your mind. Oscar’s love and knowledge of music is again clear. It is however a shame there are none of the usual background characters who add some of the extra flavour, like Madame Katerina. We do meet Frey’s uncle but he seems rather one-dimensional, besides one revelation that is interesting but adds nothing to Frey’s overall backstory.

There are spoilers from this point on.

The family is suffering from a ‘curse’ that can only be cured by drinking human blood. It’s a fabulous storyline that flows excellently. A curse that follows families down through history, driving them mad, ruining their bodies, and leaving them in never ending pain. Those who also enjoy medical books may be spotting that this is in reality the inherited condition Porphyria, first discovered and described in the period The Loch of the Dead is set in – McGray certainly learned a lot in his very short time at medical school. Porphyria can indeed be alleviated (although never cured) by being injected with Haematin, a compound made by synthesising haemoglobin found in blood.

This is a brilliant move by Oscar de Muriel, and his symptoms fit; burning in sunlight, mental illness, stomach or abdominal pain, seizures, and weak bodies that look like the undead (some believe Porphyria was the original cause of the vampire myth).

Also, whilst Benjamin’s storyline is interesting it does feel slightly underdeveloped, as does McGray’s sister’s storyline. The only other negative is that the ending is slightly too long, it drags out for a few more chapters than is needed.

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  • Rosie
  • 06-25-18

Brilliant

I loved this book immensely. The series ours getting better and better with each new book and I'm becoming more fond of the characters with each one. Brilliantly written and brilliantly read.

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  • Nicky
  • 06-24-18

Beat one yet.

This has got to have been the best story yet. Each book gets better and better and more intriguing. Love the characters and the relationship between Fray and Mcgrane. I didn’t want it to end. Can’t reccomend enough.

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  • CAROL
  • 06-15-18

The best yet!

This is a an amazing series and the latest episode is simply brilliant. Can't wait for the next one.

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    4 out of 5 stars
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  • Joan Byrne
  • 06-09-18

great audio

love this series
waiting for the next.
knew who the baddies were but the story kept changing so I doubted myself. love the humour too

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  • D. Atherton
  • 06-07-18

Great characters, story & narration

very entertaining and as well researched as the previous stories. undercurrent of dark humour ever present and well narrated.

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  • sukie
  • 06-06-18

This book is the best of the series.

The character development and the narration alternating between both characters works well.
A compelling story.