Review: Edinburgh Twilight by Carole Lawrence

Edinburgh Twilight

Publisher: Thomas & Mercer                                 Genre: Mystery 
Release date: September 5, 2017                            Pages: 446

The setting is 1880s Edinburgh, a city divided into the ‘New Town’ where the city’s wealthy live, and the ‘Old Town,’ populated by the impoverished, the criminals, and others on the edges of society.  As a Detective Inspector in the Edinburgh police force, Ian Hamilton, a member of the ‘New Town’ population, often finds himself face to face with all of the criminality and depravity the city has to offer. 

Dedicated to tracking down and catching as many criminals as possible, DI Hamilton doggedly investigates the supposed suicide of a man found at the bottom of Arthur’s Seat, finally demonstrating that the man was strangled prior to being thrown off the hill. Not long after establishing that the man was murdered, DI Hamilton is faced with a second murder, which is almost certainly linked to the first.

It soon becomes clear that Edinburgh is being plagued by a serial killer, whose victims seemingly have little to connect them, aside from being murdered by the same individual.

Assisted by a variety of characters, including a street urchin, a reference librarian and an eager to please sergeant, DI Hamilton sets his sites on hunting down a killer who is slowly moving closer to his own circle of acquaintances.

Edinburgh Twilight is the first book in what is set to be a series of mystery novels centered on the main character, Detective Inspector Ian Hamilton and his always aiming to please partner, Sergeant Dickerson, as well as a number of strong supporting characters. For an introductory book, and the first I have read by this author, Carole Lawrence hits it out of the park.The writing style was beautiful and believable and the description made me long to be back in Edinburgh. 

Lawrence’s skill at character development drew me in immediately. She skillfully balances description, action, and back story to create believable, well-developed, characters with complete and complex histories. The backstory included is smoothly integrated into the story and left me wanting more of the characters, while never feeling clunky or forced.

Long before the story was finished, DI Hamilton and Sergeant Dickerson had already gained a place on my list of favourite fictional detectives – and this is not a designation I bestow lightly.

A mystery novel with good characters is still nothing without the story itself, and Edinburgh Twilight does not disappoint. The story is gripping from the very first pages, and the fast pace kept me turning pages eagerly to the very end. And, in the mark of a good story, I was far from ready to leave the characters on the last page.

The reader is introduced to the perspective of the killer early on, but his identity and the connection to the cast of characters is kept secret until the last few chapters. Lawrence reveals hints as to the the killer’s identity though out the book, and I found myself suspecting many of the secondary characters as the story developed. Though I did figure out some of the twists as the story went along, at no point did I have plot points figured out too much prior to the official reveal.

One of the aspects of this book that I enjoyed was the juxtaposition of brotherly relationships. I’m not going to get into this too much, as it is so closely related to spoilers. The story contrasts two sets of brothers along with one additional pairing of boys who have a brotherly relationship. The stories of these brothers add to the questions and suspense surrounding the identity of the killer, while also developing Hamilton’s character.

One of my critiques of the book was the lack of ‘page-time’ for well developed female characters. I thought that the female characters that were introduced were well written and diverse, and I found myself wishing that Hamilton’s Aunt Lillian would have been in the story more than she is. Based on the setup in this book, I am hopeful that we will see more of her as the series goes on.

Overall, I loved this book, and I would definitely recommend it to fans of police procedural mystery novels. For mystery fans who generally steer clear of the police procedural sub genre, I would still recommend it, as the story is not bogged down by procedure. The second book cannot come out soon enough for me.

I give this book 4.5 stars.

I received a copy of this book from Thomas & Mercer via Netgalley in exchange for an honest review. 

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