Monday, April 25, 2011
Unearthed: A Blackpool Mystery, by Jordan Gray--Review
This is apparently the fourth of four books, the adventures of Michael Graham, an English videogame designer, and his American wife Molly, in the small English coastal town of Blackpool. The backstory includes Molly having successfully campaigned to get redevelopment funds for Blackpool, and she's managing the project much more closely than she'd hoped to. They've also, unintentionally and not entirely happily, gotten involved in investigating some crime related to a local mystery, the missing treasure supposedly hidden somewhere in the area by Charles Crowe, a local businessman and illegal slave trader of the early 19th century. This has involved them with the local head of the police, Chief Inspector Paddington--and also, unfortunately, brought them to the attention of a very rough and violent gypsy clan currently in the area, the Draghicis, as well as Aleister Crowe, descendant of Charles, current owner of the Crowe estate, the Crowe's Nest, and quite a formidable and dangerous character in his own right.
As Unearthed opens, Michael is standing watch over the hospital bedside of his friend Rohan Wallace, who broke into the Crowe's Nest for unknown reasons, and was shot by Aleister. Molly has gone to pick up Rohan's grandmother, Nanny Myrie, who is coming in by float plane.
This is a moment of peace and reflection compared to what will happen over the next few days.
A stranger turns up and tries to talk to the unconscious Rohan, and when Michael pursues him through the hospital parking lot to try to question him, a sniper shoots the stranger dead. The gypsy Dragheci clan, convinced that Charles Crowe stole their ancestors' gold, threaten Molly and Michael in an attempt to force them to help recover it. Nanny Myrie has brought with her the journal of one of her ancestors, with a trove of information about Charles Crowe and his slave trading and smuggling, as well as sketches of West African artifacts stolen by Crowe. As Michael puzzles over the model of Blackpool that folds into a secret map of the tunnels under the town and scours Youtube for more information on the dead stranger, and Paddington pursues a more conventional investigation, Molly and Aleister's sister are kidnapped by the Draghicis, and tension ramps up to the breaking point.
This is an exciting mystery with engaging characters, and enough background detail included that the longer story arc encompassing the three previous books is not an obstacle to enjoying this one.
I received a free electronic galley of this book from the publisher via NetGalley.