The Amber Maze by Christopher Bowden

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The Amber Maze by Christopher Bowden

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Category: General Fiction
Rating: 4/5
Reviewer: Jill Murphy
Reviewed by Jill Murphy
Summary: Hugh Mullion's search for the provenance of a mysterious key found down the back of a chair uncovers a fascinating history. Nicely drawn and engaging noirish novel featuring characters from Bowden's other books.
Buy? Yes Borrow? Yes
Pages: 166 Date: September 2018
Publisher: Amolibros
ISBN: 978-1912335053

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Hugh Mullion goes away to Dorset for the weekend and, while waiting for his wife to arrive, finds a mysterious key down the back of an antique chair. The grubby and torn label to which is attached reads...


... it's a mystery.

And if there is one thing that Hugh cannot resist, it's a mystery. What does the key unlock? As his wife Kate knows perfectly well, Hugh won't rest easy until he has found out all there is to know about the key, what it unlocks, and its mysterious owner. His search will take him from Edwardian Oxfordshire to Camden Town in the trendy 1960s. There will be destruction by fire, secret societies run by Oxbridge undergrads and even murder attempts. But the heart of the mystery lies in the life of a forgotten artist, Lionel Pybus, and how these events impacted his life and work.

You'll like Hugh Mullion. He's a quietly determined man and once he has the bit between his teeth, he won't let go. And he has a methodical mind, perfect for unpicking secrets and piecing together fragments of information to reveal the bigger picture. And his unassuming manner invites the confidence of strangers - people are almost keen to share their untold stories and memories with him. As Lionel's story unfolds, you'll be as engaged in it as Hugh is.

All of Christopher Bowden's novels have a colour in the title and that colour subtly informs the themes of the book. Here, the amber maze appears in the book as both a physical location and the connected cipher of a secret society. But the reader is asked to consider a colour - is this orange the danger of fire? The mystery of the old and oft forgotten past? And how does Lionel's art reflect this? The books are all set in the same world too - this is the second mystery that Hugh Mullion has set out to solve and you will find minor characters from other novels call in from time to time. I like this and I think most readers will too: it makes these novels more intimate somehow.

I thoroughly enjoyed The Amber Maze. It's cleverly plotted and paced and is full of clever little touches. It delves into serious events including arson and murder attempts, but it's a gentle and elegant dissection, delicately done. It's not the sort of mystery that makes you afraid to fall asleep alone: it's a mystery that unlocks the secrets of the past by illuminating and revealing real people with real trials and tribulations.

I hope Hugh Mullion finds another secret to unravel soon.

You might also enjoy The Purple Shadow, also by Bowden. It also features art and artists and you'll recognise a minor character or two from The Amber Maze.

Bookinterviews.jpg Christopher Bowden was kind enough to be interviewed by Bookbag.

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Buy The Amber Maze by Christopher Bowden at Amazon You can read more book reviews or buy The Amber Maze by Christopher Bowden at


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