Book Review: The Red Hand of Fury by R. N. Morris

June, 1914. A young man is mauled to death by a polar bear at London Zoo. Shortly afterwards, another young man leaps to his death from a notorious Suicide Bridge. Two seemingly unconnected deaths – and yet there are similarities.

Following a third attempted suicide, DI Silas Quinn knows he must uncover the link between the three men if he is to discover what caused them to take their own lives. The one tangible piece of evidence is a card found in each of the victims’ possession, depicting a crudely-drawn red hand. What does it signify? To find the answers, Quinn must revisit his own dark past. But can he keep his sanity in the process?

What I Thought:

I was lucky enough to read The Red Hand of Fury as part of a blog tour in the summer. It’s exactly my cup of tea, as I love crime novels and also the period around the First World War. What I am especially drawn to is the ability of the investigating characters to solve crimes without all the modern, CSI-style methods and equipment that are often in modern crime novels and on TV – deduction, brain power and investigation win the day!

Silas Quinn, R. N. Morris’ lead character, is unique in his dedication to solving the apparant suicides of three men, which he does not believe are just chance and unconnected. He gets himself committed to an asylum where the men were treated and we then find out that Quinn might not be such a stranger to mental health struggles.

This is my first experience of Silas Quinn but there are earlier books featuring the detective which have all now made it to my reading list as he is a compelling detective to follow, with his personal difficulties giving an interesting angle to his character. This book in particular has an interesting angle, given that the reader knows that the First World War is not long ahead for these characters.

The mystery of the book is excellent, constantly leaving you guessing and providing loads of twists that even the most avid reader of crime fiction would struggle to spot and the final act is dramatic and satisfying to read.

What I found most interesting to read – and what has fascinated me in my own family history research – is the depiction of an asylum of the time. Read any historical novel featuring mental ill-health and you will be horrified by how mental health patients were treated. Confined like criminals and often subjected to experiments that hoped to cure them, there is none of the empathy or treatment options that exist today. It really is awful to read and, although today’s mental health care is by no means perfect, we can at least be grateful that these horrible conditions no longer exist.

To find out more about R. N. Morris and the Silas Quinn books, you can check out the author’s website.

The Red Hand of Fury is published by Severn House.

Please note: I was sent a copy of this book for review purposes. All opinions are, as ever, my own.

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