Gallows Court Reviews
““A dark, stylish crime thriller set in 1930s London...a subversive twist on the genre...Ingenious and pacey, Gallows Court keeps you guessing right to the end.”
Antonia Senior, The Times
“Martin Edwards is a fine writer of contemporary crime novels and a scholarly expert on the classic crime fiction of the 1920s and 1930. For the first time he has written a novel set during that golden age...Far more unconventional and psychologically disturbing than most crime fiction of the period, this novel brings that low, dishonest decade to life with mesmerising skill.”
Jake Kerridge, Sunday Express
"An intriguing change of direction, paying homage to the legacy of vintage thrillers but introducing an urgency and sense of dark menace that is notably contemporary...Packed with evocative period detail, twists and turns and a fascinatingly enigmatic anti-heroine."
"This dark thriller set in the 1930s — crime's "Golden Age" — is the first novel for three years by the leading expert in classic crime fiction. With its edgily modern take on the era, masterful and playful nods to the genre's tropes, sumptuous period detail and a terrifying heroine, this is no country-house cosy.”
Sunday Times Crime Club Newsletter
"A fabulous melodrama, atmospheric and entertaining."
Mat Coward, Morning Star
"Exceptional...The labyrinthine plot is one of Edwards’s best, and he does a masterly job of maintaining suspense, besides getting the reader to invest in the fate of the two main characters."
Publishers' Weekly (starred review)
"This is highly atmospheric, spine-tingling fun. The 1930s setting is to die for, including many evocative details...Best of all, the way that Edwards keeps deepening the creepiness of this mystery
until the very end is utterly stunning."
Connie Fletcher, Booklist (starred review)
"Elegant prose..There's atmosphere aplenty in this book, sinister undertones slither throughout...Martin Edwards crafts vivid descriptions of both character and setting that embed the reader into the scene in a way few writers can achieve."
C.C. Harrison, New York Journal of Books
“As always, Edwards writes a book that grips you from page one. Immediately, you have a strange scenario where you question what exactly is going on. Is the guilty party really guilty? Are others involved to cover their tracks or are they really pillars of justice? Gallows Court is no pastiche, but a homage to the glittering Golden Era. It felt as though Edwards was channelling Christie and Sayers as if these two giants had collaborated on a novel together...Gallows Court is a brilliant read with an enigmatic heroine… or is she really so heroic???”
“Done with brio...Edwards’ plot is precision engineered while also evoking the city and bringing its past to life with sharp atmospherics. A varied cast of characters ranging from the glamorous and romantic to the decidedly shady populate the pages as they weave their way through a fast-moving patchwork puzzle that will satisfy both traditional crime readers and more modern ones who enjoy a drop of moral complexity and darkness in their brew.”
Maxim Jakubowski, Crime Time
“Imagine a modern thriller – of the Deaver genre, rather than the unreliable-narrator-which-man-in-my-life-is-trying-to-kill-me genre – wrapped up in a Golden Age detective novel. That would give you the most basic idea of the shape of the book. What it adds to both aspects of that genre is some very strong atmosphere and character work... There are several cracking twists...and the overall book is one of the most satisfying reads I’ve experienced for a long time. As you may be able to tell, Gallows Court comes with my Highest Recommendation.”
In Search of the Classic Mystery
“What a treat it is!...Unputdownable...a rich, dark, atmospheric tale written in the style of the Golden Age of Crime novels. The plot is complex and labyrinthine...nothing is quite as it seems. I am actually quite breathless at the breadth of plotting that Mr Edwards has produced. It’s quite remarkable. The book also has a cast of characters that all play their part and the development is so skilful. I can’t think of a comparable work with so many characters so well drawn jumping off the page...It’s so authentic that you feel it’s not just set in the 1930s but written then too. The language, the historical detail, the police procedures – wonderful...I commend this book to crime lovers everywhere.”
"In a word, terrific...The period detail is beautifully observed but this story could only have happened when it did - so the setting is no mere decorative device...this is a tremendous read...an exciting new departure by a wonderful storyteller."
Nigel Simeone, Dorothy L. Sayers Society Bulletin
"A true tour de force, Gallows Court is a homage to gothic suspense, written by a master of his craft. Meticulous in its attention to detail, fiendishly clever plotting populated with convincing characters, and with enough grisly murders to satisfy the most lurid of readers, it is destined to become a true classic, and deservedly so.
“A fabulously ripping yarn, with no time to draw breath as Edwards zips us through his evocative world. This is a novel plotted to perfection. Clever, clever. Loved it.”
"Martin Edwards is as close to the King of Golden Age Mysteries as one can get...The deliciously twisted turns through these murders are spun by a master storyteller...There are characters who are clearly on one side or the other, but there are characters who will surprise the reader. In short, it is a fascinating cast on a turning stage of events. The twists in the story are gasp worthy, exceeding any Golden Age mystery, but essential to this powerful story. Edwards weaves his knowledge of the Golden Age tropes throughout the tale to satisfy any reader who expects desires those. It is a brilliant example of writing within a period but somehow updating it to appeal to all readers. Gallows Court should be on the reading list of every reader who loves the best of crime/mystery fiction. I count it as one of my favorite all-time books, hitting all the right notes for me."
Kathy Boone Reel, The Reading Room
“Whilst Rachel is very much centre stage, the other characters in this book are also very well–crafted, all making significant contributions to the final narrative, Jacob Flint in particular and the story does come at the plot from different angles and other characters’ perspectives. Martin certainly chose his narrative point of view very carefully and therefore very well... As to the ending? All I will say are three things:
• It’s an emotional rollercoaster.
• Gripping is an understatement. I’m surprised I didn’t get a paper cut in the last 80 pages, turning the pages that fast.
• I spent a lot of time mentally thinking: ‘blooming heck’.
... The bar has definitely been raised and I have no idea what book to read next, without it paling into comparison against this one.”
“I was floored by the novel’s riveting blend of action and intrigue, terrific pacing and compelling characters, particularly the unforgettable Rachel Savernake.”
The Venetian Vase
"A very dark thriller, in fact so dark, it is obsidian, with sharp edges that make one think deeply about those that surround us...The power of this novel should come as no surprise as its author is a multiple award-winning writer...little can prepare the reader for the dark revelations contained within Gallows Court...a thought-provoking and violent crime-fiction narrative that explores [with a contemporary eye], the dark-side of human nature; but trapped within an evocatively realised historical thriller."
Ali Karim, Shots Magazine
“Knock-out good... There are many things to love about the book: one is the fabulous women characters – the good, the bad and the uncertain. There are frequent changes of POV, and this is beautifully handled: never confusing or annoying or misleading.
Although of course we want to be misled somewhat in a crime book – and of course Martin does that superbly too. It is, I think, a simple fact that people who read a lot of crime books are alert to plot twists and turns. When we read of a new book advertised as having ‘killer twists’, we really WANT that to be true, there’s nothing we like better. But actually – usually we can see it coming a mile off. When you’ve read a lot of crime books, it just isn’t that difficult. So another great thing about Martin’s book is that he fools us, over and over.
As a devoted crime reader himself, he knows how we think, and how to use our perceptions against us. Can’t really say more for fear of spoilers, but the book was full of surprises, and kept me guessing right till the end. And it is a very complex plot, with plenty of proper investigation and glimpses of other lives. It is not a pastiche, it’s not someone pretending that he is writing a book that might have appeared in the 1930s: it’s a historical novel, he knows when he is writing and who he is writing for.”
Clothes in Books
"Gallows Court is the first novel by Martin Edwards that is set in the 1930s and it clearly demonstrates the author’s mastery of the period, with many fascinating details of the music and entertainment of the time. The plot is complex but satisfying. Jacob Flint is an engaging and likeable protagonist, and Rachel Savernake is an intriguing one. Gallows Court is an enjoyable book that brings the 1930s to life and looks at that restless, inter-war decade in a new and fascinating way. It is a book well worth reading and which I would recommend."
Carol Westron, Mystery People
“The mysteries all unfold in a satisfactory way, with plenty of twists and surprises - the whole thing is a terrific page turner... There's a moral ambiguity that runs through proceedings that I also really liked, it meant I wasn't entirely sure where my sympathies lay right until the end of the book... I really enjoyed this, and...thoroughly recommend it to anyone looking for a darkly atmospheric thriller.”
“The writing is evocative and brings the time period to life. It’s clear to see the influence that the Golden Age greats have had on the writer and this book is a celebration of that period of writing. There were so many red herrings, so many twists and so many ‘I didn’t see that coming’ moments. This is a fantastic crime read, perfect for those wanting a good mystery with intriguing characters.”
Emma’s Bookish Corner
"A fast-clip work of psychological suspense."
J.Kingston Pierce, Crime Reads
“Historical crime can sometimes suffer from a sentimental view of the period in which it’s set. Edwards deftly avoids this cliché, depicting London as dark, grimy and cowering in the face of killings. It’s difficult throughout the book to decide if Rachel is hero or anti-hero, which greatly adds to the tension, keeping the reader perpetually unsettled. There are hints of Agatha Christie’s And Then There Were None, both in terms of the sense of menace and scenes set on the island of Gaunt where Rachel is raised. I’m sure Edwards’ existing fans will love this change of tone but he should also garner new readers for his excellent fiction.”
“What a treat it is! I read it in a couple of sittings for it really is unputdownable...Gallows Court is a rich, dark, atmospheric tale written in the style of the Golden Age of Crime novels. The plot is complex and labyrinthine and...nothing is quite as it seems. I am actually quite breathless at the breadth of plotting that Mr Edwards has produced. It’s quite remarkable.
The book also has a cast of characters that all play their part and their development is so skilful. I can’t think of a comparable work with so many characters all so well drawn jumping off the page at you...It’s so authentic that you believe it’s not just set in the 1930s but written then too. The language, the historical detail, the police procedures – wonderful...It’s a locked room mystery, a codes and cyphers mystery, an identity mystery. In the hands of some writers this might be get tangled and muddled as there is so much going on and so many pertinent characters who demand our attention. It might be easy for the writer to lose their way. But this doesn’t happen under Mr Edwards’ skilful pen... it is so easy to picture it all.”
Gill Chedgey, Nudge
“The writing as you might expect is brilliant. The plot is complex and depends on those false clues not least what part does Gallows Court play? The fantastic scene setting mentioned earlier has a big part to play, the author using both the dangerous darkness of London and the remoteness of Gaunt to their full advantage. The characters are for the most part wily and definitely not those you should put your trust in and also for the most part are of the higher reaches of society... This book did have the feel of a more modern day thriller with the tension perhaps higher than those solved by our favourite crime detectives from the age. Make no mistake the stakes are high for our characters and no-one is safe until the culprit is found!
I absolutely modestly raise my cloche hat to the ingenuity of Gallows Court. I was totally immersed in trying to solve the puzzle.”
Cleopatra Loves Books
“I found Rachel’s character to be completely fascinating...I really appreciate how Martin Edwards has created such multi-layered female characters in Elaine and Sara as well. Even if it’s the 1930s, women also have things to say....the story was incredibly twisty and full of surprises. If you enjoy traditional mysteries with compelling characters and a dose of psychological suspense, then Gallows Court is perfect for you!”
“The period detail is immaculately created...never in my rather extensive reading of novels written during the period have I encountered such a fast-paced and violent plot as Edwards has created for Gallows Court... This is a thoroughly modern take on the 1930s and none the worse for that...a real page-turner.”
Harriet Devine’s blog
“A richly atmospheric read.”