blog tour, books, reviews

Blog Tour: Death in the Last Reel – Paula Harmon

‘Stop standing in the way of bullets.’

‘I will if you will.’

Does the camera ever lie?

1911: After the violent murder of three policemen in the line of duty, tensions between London constabulary and Whitechapel anarchists simmer. Meanwhile accusations and counter accusations of espionage further weaken relations between Germany and Britain. Can Margaret Demeray and Fox find out which potential enemy is behind a threat to the capital before it’s too late?

In the shadow of violence in the East End, just as Dr Margaret Demeray starts to gain recognition for her pathology work, a personal decision puts her career at the hospital under threat. Needing to explore alternative options, she tries working with another female doctor in Glassmakers Lane. But in that genteel street, a new moving-picture studio is the only thing of any interest, and Margaret’s boredom and frustration lead to an obsessive interest in the natural death of a young woman in a town far away. 

Meanwhile intelligence agent Fox is trying to establish whether rumours of a major threat to London are linked to known anarchist gangs or someone outside Britain with a different agenda. When another mission fails and he asks Margaret to help find out who provided the false intelligence that led him in the wrong direction, she can’t wait to assist. 

But enquiries in wealthy Hampstead and then assaults in poverty-stricken Whitechapel lead unexpectedly back to Glassmakers Lane. How can such a quiet place be important? And is the dead young woman Margaret a critical link or a coincidental irrelevance?

Margaret and Fox need to work together; but both of them are independent, private and stubborn, and have yet to negotiate the terms of their relationship. 

How can Margaret persuade Fox to stop protecting her so that she can ask the questions he can’t? And even if she does, how can they discover is behind the threat to London when it’s not entirely clear what the threat actually is?

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Paula Harmon was born in North London to parents of English, Scottish and Irish descent. Perhaps feeling the need to add a Welsh connection, her father relocated the family every two years from country town to country town moving slowly westwards until they settled in South Wales when Paula was eight. She later graduated from Chichester University before making her home in Gloucestershire and then Dorset where she has lived since 2005. She is a civil servant, married with two adult children. Paula has several writing projects underway and wonders where the housework fairies are, because the house is a mess and she can’t think why.

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My thoughts: I really enjoyed this book, Margaret and Fox’s relationship is strong and their bickering made me laugh. Both are determined to solve the mysteries around them – from Norah’s terrible death to the yellow wrapped book and the dead men in Whitechapel.

Fox is also after anarchists or possibly German spies, there’s a few red herrings along the way, and Margaret is deeply suspicious of the rather unfeeling Dr Fernsby, and the couple who own the film company across the street.

But it’s all connected and it’s only by piecing it together carefully that they’ll get the answers to all of the terrible events and the evil plot being hatched in Soho.

The book was well written and the characters felt true to their time but also quite modern, not like the fusty Edwardians you might imagine. Margaret is forging her own path as a doctor, despite all the miserable old men looking down their noses at her. Fox doesn’t expect her to stay home and do nothing, but he would rather she was out of the line of fire. And I really liked Elinor – aka Miss Hedgehog!

*I was kindly gifted a copy of this book in exchange for taking part in the blog tour but all opinions remain my own.

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