πŸ“š4πŸ“šThe Dance of the Serpents by Oscar de Muriel

My reading has been so sloppy so far in 2021, which is terrible considering how many books I have to read at the moment. I think my life is just more busy than it was in 2019 when I was able to read 130 books in the year. I have more commitments at the moment and am being pulled in too many direction – all of which are my own creation – and as a result reading has suffered.

December, 1889.

There have been many bad days in Edinburgh police’s secret subdivision ‘The Commission for the Elucidation of Unsolved Cases Presumably Related to the Odd and Ghostly’.

But today is surely the worst.

Because the exiled English Inspector Ian Frey, and his Scottish boss ‘Nine-Nails’ McGray are summoned to a meeting in the middle of the night with the Prime Minister himself.

And he tells them that Queen Victoria – the most powerful person in the world – wants them both dead.

To be pardoned they must embark on a mission so dangerous that they might be saving Her Majesty the job of executing them. Because this case ties together the dark history of the Pendle witches, with the tragic case of McGray own sister, to a conspiracy within the highest office in the land…

I’ve been waiting to read this book for a long while. I waited patiently for the paperback to come out. I didn’t want to get it in hardback when the rest of my collection is in paperback. The wait was HARD but worth it. I read this in-between napping and a run to Tesco’s. To me, that was a well spend day.

I enjoyed this book. I enjoyed the overall vibe of the story and the way in which the plot ushered the characters. It was interesting to see them return to a previously talked about setting, rather than see them delve into something new. The comradery and banter between McGray and Frey, it is something that I have enjoyed throughout the series because realistically, these two men wouldn’t work as colleagues or friends, but in the realm of books, they fit together perfectly. The characters evolve with each book and that is something I am greatly attracted to, I enjoy seeing a character evolve and develop through the course of a series. As a reader, it makes me feel more in touch with the story and I feel like I learn more of the base plot through the eyes of a changing character.

Oscar de Muriel’s books are effortlessly easy to get into. It’s a clean swipe to break away from reality and fall head first into one of his books. I find the book series in general fascinating because there is that blurred line between detective work and the world of the supernatural. It’s a fun fit, but I’ve learned it isn’t everyone’s cup of tea!

This book brings in the tantalising element of Queen Victoria and whatever you’re expecting her role to be – think again! This was a masterful stroke because it brought in something new while projecting points that had previously been left as unanswered questions. Also, with how despised the department that McGray and Frey work in, it was about time for Queen Victoria to show her face in the continuing storyline.

There is also more of Lord Salisbury, the Prime Minister, and we get to see more of his character as well. It is an interesting scope of character that come into play in this novel and there is a lot of ducking and weaving to get to the heart of the problem.

Some people love a good cliffhanger while some people hate it. To be honest, I’m partial to a cliffhanger if it is done right but the line of what I consider right is very flimsy at best. This book does contain a type of cliffhanger ending and I’m sure I’m in the minority when I say that this irritated me greatly.

There has been, in this series, an underlying mystery that has been present throughout. If you’ve read the books than you’ll know what I’m talking about. It’s a mystery that has always flitted between the background and the foreground and it is one of the only mysteries that has been left a secret. With this book, and the way the blurb was set out, I expected that I would at last find out the secret of the mystery. The ending provided more questions and answers and here’s why I was irritated.

This book, ‘The Dance of the Serpents’, is book 6 in the series, for 6 books I have been questioning and speculating but I wonder how long this mystery is going to be kept as so and whether, when it does come to light, I’m no longer interested in the answer. The thing about mysteries is that they can be all consuming, they can be curious and they can drive the reader onwards, but just like a drawn out TV series, an elusive mystery can loose its spark.

I suppose some would argue with me on the ending and whether the cliffhanger exposes or intensifies the mystery. I just feel like I’ve waited long enough to know the ending of the mystery in question.

The series remains one of my favourite and this book was a great addition to the series. I am hooked enough to continue with the series. I just worry slightly about the points I have made above. I think sometimes that authors get so hung up on keeping the mystery alive that they forget that at some point they do actually need to reveal said mystery.

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