Historical Novels Review
Guardians Of The Key
Lucca, City State for hundreds of years, keeper of secrets and relics, possessor of the Holy Face of Christ, has Napoleon’s army at its gates, the emperor having declared himself King of All Italy. A continent away in Bexleyheath, Mabel Flinchurst gazes down from her window upon the Advent Fair. She doesn’t see the pilgrim walk into the church of St Anthony’s across the square, and slit his own throat. But Lucca and this suicide are strands from the same rope, a rope that is being wound unseen about Mabel, ready to rip her from her cosy world. When Mabel’s friend Toby is kidnapped she enlists the help of compulsive list-maker and missing-persons finder, Whilbert Stroop. Together they are drawn into a mystery that began many centuries ago, and soon find themselves losing a race against time and treachery, as an unknown enemy, and murder, begin to snap at their heels.
"Gray has skilfully crafted a tale…The killings are violent and cold-blooded, and the suspense is maintained right until the end…Gray has an exceptional eye for detail, and her characterisation is superb..."
Historical Novels Review
The Roaring Of The Labyrinth
Astonishment Hall, a country estate in the Pennines full of extraordinary exhibitions, is truly a place of wonder. But when a valuable exhibit is stolen, it is only the first in a series of unpleasant and seemingly unconnected events. A bell tower is burnt to the ground, trapping a young boy inside, an outbreak of thefts plagues the valley, and a man is violently murdered and left to the crows and the snow.
When his own investigations come to a dead end, the owner of Astonishment Hall sends to London for help. And so Whilbert Stroop journeys north to find the answers to both his own search for a missing glass-worker, and the perplexing events at Astonishment Hall. Before long, Stroop finds himself embroiled in one man’s terrifying and warped desire for vengeance against ancient wrongs, and another man’s fight for survival.
“Guardians of the Key...A first novel from Clio Gray and an astonishingly assured one...”
“Clio Gray is an uncommonly interesting writer. One wonders, expectantly, what she will do next...”
Envoy Of The Black Pine
April 1808 and a storm sweeps across the islands of the Baltic Sea and on towards England, destroying the village of Lower Slaughter as it goes.
Into this ruined landscape comes missing-persons finder Whilbert Stroop, on the trail of a lost miniature library and its protector. Almost crossing his path is Griselda Litt, a refugee from Lower Slaughter, carrying her father’s secrets back to the island of her birth. Behind Griselda, in the shadows, a figure follows for a very different reason.
Stroop’s investigation will lead him to the strange island archipelago of Saaremaa in the Baltic Sea. Once there, he must unravel the increasingly tangled strands of past and present that surround the islands, and delve into a mysterious world of hidden tree-chapels, ancient Brotherhoods, insurrection, piracy, and death.
“This book’s true delight is the fond, playfully elegant and effortlessly seductive ‘action style'...”
“Weird and truly wonderful, Envoy of the Black Pine excites, terrifies and amuses. A fantastically different read by a fantastically different writer”
Barbara Nadel, author
The Brotherhood Of The Five
The Isle of Thanet, 1808. One man is pushed into a kiln of molten metal beneath the looming shadow of the Shot Tower, and another is dug up from the sandy bay beyond. Who they were, and why they died so strangely, is no ordinary mystery, even for Missing Persons Finder Whilbert Stroop.
On arrival in this marshy corner of Kent, on the very edge of England, Stroop tries to piece together the puzzle of these deaths, and the significance of the objects each man died trying to protect. It is a conspiracy that began ten years before on the battlefields of Europe, and one that will claim more lives before it is done.
“The Brotherhood of Five transports the reader to a different time and place thanks to Gray’s magical inner eye.”
Alex Gray, Author