The Infidel Stain by M J Carter

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The Infidel Stain by M J Carter

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Category: Crime (Historical)
Rating: 4/5
Reviewer: Luke Marlowe
Reviewed by Luke Marlowe
Summary: A thrilling exploration of a dark and dangerous world, The Infidel Stain is a crime mystery with a detective duo who are reminiscent of Holmes and Watson, yet fantastic characters in their own right. A gripping read for an evening in front of the fire.
Buy? Yes Borrow? Yes
Pages: 368 Date: April 2015
Publisher: Fig Tree
External links: Author's website
ISBN: 978-0241146255

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London, 1841. Newly returned from India, Jeremiah Blake and William Avery find life back in Victorian England difficult to settle into, having left a disconnected country travelled by pony and trap, and returned to one in the grip of railway mania. When a series of murders occur, all connected to the press, Avery and Blake find themselves back in action. But with connections between the murdered and those seeking revolution, it is a race against time to find the killer before he strikes again.

Victorian crime dramas are nothing new – Sherlock Holmes was not the first, and he certainly won’t be the last! It is rare to find one that captures the murky, dangerous world quite as well as The Infidel Stain does though. This London is dirty and dangerous, and it is depicted and written about in such an eloquent way that it feels vivid and alive, with killers lurking on every corner, beggars in the street, and a public who are growing increasingly frustrated with the world around them. Pure escapism, this is a book to escape away to for an hour or two, immersing yourself in an earlier, turbulent time.

Much like a Sherlock Holmes book, we follow a detective duo through their investigation. And whilst one is the more sensible of the pair, and the other an eccentric master of disguise, these are not carbon copies of Watson and Holmes, but brilliant characters in their own right. Whilst I have yet to read The Strangler Vine, the bookwhich begins this series, it is easy to enjoy Blake and Avery’s complicated and intriguing relationship, and the two are likeable and intelligent protagonists. They lead the reader through a plot that grows more complicated with every turn of the page – from murders to social reform, slums to the Strand, and printers to parliament. The twisting plot is dealt with deftly, and never becomes hard to follow – in fact I found myself being gripped harder and harder as more and more is uncovered. I often find that no matter how hard a crime book grips, the conclusion is often rather disappointing – an anti-climax to the breathless pace previously built. No such problem here – the climax is astounding and had me staying up far later than I should on a work night!

Whilst a fantastic fiction novel, The Infidel Stain also illuminates parts of history that are less known – the chartists and the corn laws are things I knew little about, but author M J Carter lights this period well. A rollicking good read, and a fantastically evocative and gripping drama – I’m excited for the next in the series. Many thanks to the publishers for the copy.

For further reading, Close to Holmes: A Look at the Connections Between Historical London, Sherlock Holmes and Sir Arthur Conan Doyle by Alistair Duncan illuminates the real historical connections around the stories, and also explores the social and political situation of the time – much like The Infidel Stain.

Buy The Infidel Stain by M J Carter at Amazon You can read more book reviews or buy The Infidel Stain by M J Carter at

Buy The Infidel Stain by M J Carter at Amazon You can read more book reviews or buy The Infidel Stain by M J Carter at


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