If you haven’t yet discovered the most extraordinary crime fiction series of the last ten years, now’s your chance, with the publication of the first three Denton novels as an electronic ‘boxed set’ for only £2.99.
In these novels, London in the 1900s is brought to life with stunning clarity – and it’s a fascinating place. We are perhaps overfamiliar with the gaslit streets of late Victorian London, but with the turn of the new century the old rookeries are being torn down and the modern world is rushing in – not just buildings but new ideas, inventions, political movements.
It’s the London of bohemian artists thronging the Café Royal while they explore the boundaries of sexual behaviour; of Russian anarchists turning the East End into a hotbed of intrigue and violence; of doctors bringing the new ideas of Sigmund Freud to bear on the darker corners of the human psyche. But beneath the exhilarating surface, madness and murder continue their age-old dance.
Then there’s Denton, an American writer escaping from a troubled past, but who cannot seem to shrug off his demons. His brief notoriety as a lawman in the West prompts desperate souls to seek his help, and a writer’s fascination with the dark side of human nature does the rest. Murder seems to follow in his footsteps wherever he goes, leading him into the very heart of London’s dark underbelly.
And each story reveals a new layer of the metropolis. In The Frightened Man Denton is drawn into the sordid world of London’s brothels as he investigates the murder of a young woman, and uncovers the shocking reality of London’s sex trade. Then in The Bohemian Girl he enters London’s artistic demi-monde, with the disappearance of an artist’s model, and has to confront not only some shocking truths about genius and madness, but also the monsters lurking in his own subconscious.
And finally, in The Second Woman, a woman found with her neck broken in his own back garden leads Denton reluctantly into the murky world of Britain’s fledgling intelligence service, and the horrors of the first war on terror.
If you like your crime fiction safe, predictable and cosy, these novels are not for you. But if you’re looking for a fresh voice – fiercely intelligent, unconventional and sometimes shocking – and a window into a fascinating time and place, take a chance on the Denton novels.
Bill Massey, Editor