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An unaffectedly good man, Stroop attracts love and loyalty. So does Gray’s book...this book’s true delight is the fond, playfully elegant and effortlessly seductive ‘action style’...”

 Daily Telegraph

Whilbert Stroop is a character in the historical crime series created by Clio Gray, set in the era of the Napoloeonic Wars. His cases include the solving of murders, puzzles, missing people, manuscripts and relics, and are securely grounded in the history of the times.

Missing Persons Finder Whilbert Stroop’s work has taken him far abroad from his native London, to places as exotic as Astonishment Hall – the eccentric museum collection founded by the infamous explorer Halliday Weeems – and as strange as the island of Hiiuuma in the Estonian Bay, with its tree-chapel groves and the huge erratic boulder known as the Ancestral Stone, on which are carved the names of all those who have died on the island. There are many other places he has been, or has had connections to in his work, including the mammoth-like hangars of the Printworks at Painswick, Groot Keller’s famous Shot Tower on the Isle of Thanet, and the marvellous walled city of Lucca in Tuscany.

If you are familiar with Gray’s narratives of Stroop’s detectival activities, then you will also be familiar with some of the characters Stroop has met on his way, and of their ordinary, and not so ordinary, lives; lives that seem to go on well beyond the pages of Gray’s books, sparking the curiosity of her readers to find out more about the times they live in.

There is Jeremiah Pytchley and his involvement in the Mysorean Wars in India, and Halliday Weeems and his travels right across the world, from the islands of Kiribati in the South to Greenland, Iceland and the Faroes in the North, from which he brought back the weird and wonderful artefacts that comprise the giant Cabinet of Curiosities that is Astonishment Hall.

There's Uwe Dvoshka who witnessed the building of the city of Odessa in the Crimea, and tried to create a locust-scaring machine; and Augustus Wedders and Etta Smallwell, who set off across war-torn Europe to retrieve the hoard of Medici Manuscripts that was the legacy of the Brotherhood of Five.

There is so much to explore and experience in these wonderful books, and we haven’t even mentioned yet Stroop’s own magnum opus, his Sense Map of London, and all the strange working practices and curious codes of craft he uncovers during its composition.

Stroop is a collector of minutiae, a hoarder of interesting facts and figures. For instance he once read that the famous philosopher and mathematician, Pythagoras, was killed by the angry mob that was hot on his heels only because he got chased into a field of fava beans, to whose pollen he had such a strong allergy that he soon stumbled and fell.

This information was in a book Violena Sedge sent him from Weeems’ extensive library at Astonishment Hall, and it went on to tell him that the same physiological anomaly that brought about this allergy in Pythagoras was also the cause of the mathematician’s increased resistance to malaria, a resistance Augustus Wedders would have envied, given the spread of malarial infection in his village in Thanet, which led to them all being called Lookers, owing to the yellow hue of their skin.

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
(Of Guardians of the Key)

Guardians of the Key...A first novel from Clio Gray and an astonishingly assured one.
 Yorkshire Post

Clio Gray is an uncommonly interesting writer. One wonders, expectantly, what she will do next...
 The Scotsman

The Brotherhood of Five transports the reader to a different time and place thanks to Gray’s magical inner eye.
Alex Gray, Author

An unaffectedly good man, Stroop attracts love and loyalty. So does Gray’s book...this book’s true delight is the fond, playfully elegant and effortlessly seductive ‘action style’..
Daily Telegraph


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