Wednesday, June 4, 2008

Martin Edwards' "Waterloo Sunset"

The first of Martin Edwards' eight Liverpool novels, All the Lonely People, introduced lawyer Harry Devlin. It went on to be nominated for the CWA's John Creasey Memorial Dagger.

Edwards applied the “Page 99 Test” to the eighth and latest novel in the series, Waterloo Sunset, and reported the following:
On page 99 of the US edition of Waterloo Sunset, published by Poisoned Pen Press, lawyer Harry Devlin is talking to Carmel Sutcliffe about the murders of two young women in Liverpool. Carmel works for the Liverpool Police Authority and has plenty of contacts in the local police force. Harry wants to find out what she knows about the case. His curiosity is insatiable anyway, but he has met a friend of one of the murder victims, and knowing a little about the dead girl, Lee Welch, makes him all the more desperate to understand what is going on.

On page 99, Harry learns a crucial fact about the victims, and also figures out the murder method, which the police have been keeping secret. The clue was given to him by an enigmatic character called Barney Eagleson, who embalmed the body of one of the dead girls.

So page 99 advances the plot considerably – but it is not the main plot of the book. That involves a series of warnings that Harry has received, suggesting that he will die suddenly in a few days’ time, on Midsummer’s Eve. The main plot and the sub-plot are closely interwoven and reviewers on both sides of the Atlantic have commented on the complexity of the story-line. This was deliberate; my aim was to offer whodunit fans a couple of elaborate mysteries to solve, but to add to the mix a range of interesting characters, plenty of humour, and an up-to-the-minute portrayal of a city which is in the throes of change, just as Harry’s own life is in a state of transition. There’s more about Liverpool’s status as European Capital of Culture 2008 on my blog, 'Do You Write Under Your Own Name?'.

Waterloo Sunset is the eighth book in the Devlin series, but the first to have been published for nine years. Returning to the character after such a long break was enormous fun. And, although the book has a dark and serious side, I like to think that the light, jokey dialogue on page 99 is in tune with the book’s purpose – to provide rewarding entertainment for lovers of the complex contemporary mystery.
Learn more about the author and his books at Martin Edwards' website and his blog, 'Do You Write Under Your Own Name?'.

--Marshal Zeringue