The Devil's Feast: The Blake and Avery Mystery Series (Book 3) Hardcover – 27 Oct 2016
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Wonderful . . . the whodunit plot takes in celebrity chefs, extraordinary cuisine, international diplomacy and and Victorian political shenanigans. The Devil's Feast proves to be a sumptuous treat. (The Times)
The keynote to this third Blake & Avery outing is enjoyment - in the sharp, clever plot, the telling detail and the author's uncanny ability to summon up the inner sanctum of the Victorian male club, a debtor's prison or Soyer's extraordinary dishes. (Daily Mail)
Few sleuths are as idiosyncratic as Avery and Blake . . . Carter is still an irresistible conduit to crime in the past. (Financial Times)
The Infidel Stain is a richly detailed and smartly plotted novel that firmly establishes Carter as an authentic voice in the world of historical crime. (Observer)
Witty and unfailingly readable...its contemporary resonance [is] all the more effective for being implicit. (Andrew Taylor The Spectator on The Infidel Stain)
The Strangler Vine was a promising and enjoyable debut - plenty of action, rich in historical detail, all crowned with a very clever twist. Carter has proved with The Infidel Stain that it was not a one-off. (The Times)
An entertaining stew of blackmail, murder, cross-dressing and incomprehensible slang ... like Dickens, Carter's righteous anger at Victorian hypocrisy does not prevent her from revelling in it with infectious glee. (Sunday Telegraph)
While the relationship between the dynamic duo Blake and Avery evolves in a nuanced, tender way the real star of the show in this complex, clever novel is London itself. (Evening Standard)
If this series is not bought for film, it would be another mark of the corporate stupidity that lost the BBC Ripper Street. It is, however, far more pleasurable and impressive to read. (Independent on Sunday)
M.J. Carter is a slick storyteller who combines respect for a good murder with cool historical analysis . . . [The Infidel Stain] promises to be an equally pertinent comment, in the year of the Charlie Hebdo massacre, on the price of a free press. (A.N. Wilson, ‘Summer Reads’, Times Literary Supplement)
About the Author
M. J. Carter is a former journalist and the author of the Blake and Avery series, The Strangler Vine, The Printer's Coffin (formerly published as The Infidel Stain) and The Devil's Feast, and two acclaimed works of non-fiction, Anthony Blunt: His Lives and The Three Emperors: Three Cousins, Three Empires and the Road to World War One. M. J. Carter is married with two sons and lives in London.
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In this novel, Avery is asked to assist the board of a London gentleman's club where a poisoning has occurred. Soon he's plunged into both the political intrigues of the club members and the rivalries of the kitchen. There is no shortage of suspects and plenty of twists, turns and red herrings as you'd expect in a good crime novel. The historical setting and elements of political commentary add interest to the main plot. The writing is good, easy to read and engaging, and it zips along at a good pace.
Overall, I find these novels really enjoyable and would highly recommend them to readers looking for a high quality crime novel with a historical setting. Hopefully the fourth in the series is on its way!
Jeremiah Blake is another old India hand - a prickly eccentric with a talent for criminal investigation who haunts the seedier areas of London.
In the two previous novels - The Stranglers Vine and The Infidel Stain - they have worked together to solve murders in both London and India.
This time they are back in London and Avery witnesses the death of a fellow guest at The Reform Club.
What follows is a hunt for the poisoner as we are introduced to the various members of the club. The celebrated and flamboyant French chef Alexis Soyer plays a major role in the story.
Although I enjoyed the story I found it a little bit disappointing as well as I felt that all the research that the author has obviously done slowed the story down.
But what I like most about these books are the two main characters - Blake and Avery. They are both extremely likeable in different ways, and as long as they are present the story is always enjoyable. In this book I think Blake was missing a bit too long at the beginning, and he more than Avery is the sure hand that keeps things ticking. I like the way they complement each other - Avery's naiivety and willingness to believe in good, alongside Blake's realism and sharp wits for the seedier sides of life - not unlike Holmes and Watson.
The story is exciting enough - horrible deaths as a result of poisonings and a desperate hunt for the poisoner before a grand banquet goes ahead. But I like the way the author puts characters and setting ahead of this. So many books these days are so plot driven, that characters are two dimensional and other elements are hardly researched at all - not so in this book. I know that it is harder work to read books that are full of well researched detail, but having put more effort in, the reward is that much richer. I totally disagree with the reviewer who said that it felt like a history essay. I enjoyed the book and finished it in a few days - in fact as with all my favourite books, I am keen to find out what happens to the characters, but loathe to get to the end because then I am at a loss - until I find another good book!
I can't wait for a fourth book - I hope it won't be too long.
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