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The Strings of Murder

(Frey & McGray #1)

3.90  ·  Rating details ·  3,207 ratings  ·  552 reviews
A spellbinding concoction of crime, history and horror - perfect for fans of Sherlock Holmes and Jonathan Creek.

Edinburgh, 1888. A virtuoso violinist is brutally killed in his home. Black magic symbols cover the walls. The dead man's maid swears she heard three musicians playing before the murder.

But with no way in or out of the locked practice room, the puzzle makes no se
Paperback, 407 pages
Published February 12th 2015 by Penguin
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Christine Blake One of the main characters is an Englishman forced to work in Edinburgh as a detective. He is very anti-Scottish but I have to say (as a Scot) that I …moreOne of the main characters is an Englishman forced to work in Edinburgh as a detective. He is very anti-Scottish but I have to say (as a Scot) that I didn't find it at all offensive - a lot of his remarks are hilariously over the top, he himself is insulted at length by the Scottish characters. I thought it was very funny. But if you are sensitive about that sort of thing then I wouldn't read it (a shame as it's a nice Gothic mystery)(less)
Jen It has some fairly chilling moments, so I'd class this as an adult book, but I'd happily have read this myself at 15. There's no sex or anything of th…moreIt has some fairly chilling moments, so I'd class this as an adult book, but I'd happily have read this myself at 15. There's no sex or anything of that nature, so it just depends how well they deal with the creep factor!(less)

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Magdalena aka A Bookaholic Swede
Feb 14, 2015 rated it really liked it
Shelves: read-2015
Disgraced inspector Ian Frey is sent to Edinburgh to investigate the brutal death of a violinist. The violinist was killed in a locked room and there is no way out or in and the walls are covered with magic symbols.

I wish more books were like this; fast-paced, interesting and with short chapters. With short chapters, I'm like "OK, just one more chapter"...and 1-2 hours later 1/3 of the book is done. Anyway, the mystery in this book was interesting and I like that the main characters Ian Frey and
Sep 15, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: fans of Sherlock Holmes, mystery-lovers
4,5/5 stars for a brilliant mystery thriller that Sherlock Holmes & Edgar A. Poe-fans will love.

Do you like a good murder mystery? I certainly do, mainly because murder mysteries are like Westerns: you know how they work and what you can expect, and if the writer does great things with the standard crime-elements, than you know you’re reading a good story. But starting author Oscar de Muriel does something even better: he wrote a damn good murder mystery about an intriguing paranormal crime ca
Alice Lippart
Sep 07, 2020 rated it really liked it
Shelves: read-in-2020
Incredibly entertaining!
Apr 11, 2018 rated it liked it
Shelves: criminal-mystery
This was a good, if gruesome criminal mystery, that took place in Scotland during Victorian times. I was in the mood for solving a challenging murder case along with the detectives, and I had one here. But I wasn't prepared for a grisly string of murders to take place, no pun intended. So I ignored the gore and, as usual, I concentrated on the main characters which I found engaging, both separately and even more so when thrown together.

It begins in London in 1888 when Jack the Ripper is on the
I am totally guilty of judging a book by its cover. I picked this up randomly at the bookstore because it just looked super freaking cool. Violins, Scotland, black magic, Scotland, locked-room mystery, lunatic asylums and SCOTLAND?! Sold, sold, sold! Besides, I had a quiet weekend ahead, which generally means I will find a comfy spot, fix myself a cocktail and read; no further excuses needed.

I didn’t expect much, I confess it. But the book proceeded to completely blow my mind! I loves me some Go
Jon Recluse
Apr 19, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: mystery
Victorian mystery meets the X Files in this extremely entertaining novel introducing the detective team of London based Inspector Ian Frey and Edinburgh detective Adolphus 'Nine-Nails' McGray.

A brutal locked room murder that hints of Satanic ritual and supernatural forces....what more can you ask for?

But wait, there's more!

The most entertaining dysfunctional duo to grace mystery fiction in some time.....realized upon the page with intriguing depth and humanity......and their verbal sparring is f
May 29, 2015 rated it it was amazing
The author’s love of, and passion for, Victorian crime fiction comes shining through the book, garnered by his childhood reading, growing up in Mexico, of Sherlock Holmes. He recreates with ease all the sights, smells and atmosphere of London and Edinburgh, as the story pivots between the slums and gentrified locales of both cities during this period. Indeed, sometimes the writing is realistic enough of the lowdown dirty streets, to make your nose wrinkle, as our indomitable detectives, Frey and ...more
Nov 27, 2014 rated it really liked it
Shelves: crime-thrillers
The Strings of Murder – A Great Read

The Strings of Murder is the brilliant crime debut of Oscar De Muriel who has written a brilliant mixture of crime historical noir mixed with a touch of horror. It would be easy to say this is for a particular fan of historical crime fiction but it offers fans of all crime fiction a great mixture of noir and horror while being firmly set in Victorian Edinburgh.

Inspector Ian Frey is summoned to meet the Metropolitan Police Commissioner in St Paul’s Cathedral wh
Dec 23, 2014 rated it really liked it
The Strings of Murder is Muriel’s opening novel to what I can see as the author’s outstanding career in writing. The story opens in London and moves to Victorian Edinburgh. I must say I don’t believe I have read a crime thriller that is set in Edinburgh during the era mentioned. I was truly captivated by the atmosphere the author sets. Not only that…but the author’s command of different personalities. You can say…wonderful character development and a truly wonderful study of the human condition ...more
Jayaprakash Satyamurthy
Jul 14, 2015 rated it it was amazing
Surely a dream debut for Oscar de Muriel. One that I hope will give the impetus for a whole series to follow. Set in the late 19th century, this story follows a snobbish London homicide detective to Edinburgh, where he has to find the perpetrator of a series of macabre murders. His partner is an irascible, eccentric Scots detective named McGray. It's one of those pairings of opposites that immediately sparkles with chemistry.

The mystery itself is original and complex, and at its heart lies a se
Trigger warnings: murder, gore, death of an infant, poisoning.

3.5 stars.

I picked up the fourth book in this series when I was in Edinburgh and was immediately sold. Until I realised it was the fourth book in a series, obviously, at which point I put it back on the shelf and bought this on my Kindle instead.

I loved that this is set in Edinburgh, that our protagonist just wants to be back in London working on solving the Ripper Murders but is instead dispatched to Edinburgh to help work on a case
Dec 07, 2014 rated it did not like it
Inspector Ian Frey of Scotland Yard is sent to Edinburgh to help with the investigations into what may be a copycat basing his murders on those of Jack the Ripper. Frey has many reasons for wanting to be away from London, but really doesn’t want to be in Scotland. He must join a new police department run by Detective ‘Nine-Nails’ McGray who believes in psychics and supernatural sources for crime, and who has sorrows of his own. Together these two very different men must investigate a series of g ...more
Oct 13, 2014 marked it as dnf-arcs  ·  review of another edition
February 2015
This blurb of this debut historical crime novel reeled me in by describing it as 'Jonathan Strange & Mr. Norrell meets Jonathan Creek’, which sounds like just about the most exciting thing of all time. Perhaps if that hadn’t pushed my expectations sky-high, I wouldn’t have been quite so disappointed when it turned out to be clumsily written and not a bit compelling.
Jan 02, 2016 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: my-books, 2016-reads
The following review is also available on my blog and on Amazon under nickname brienneselwyn.

The 346 pages of the book are divided into 35 consecutively numbered chapters which are framed by an prologue and an epilogue.
The story is told in the first person by Inspector Ian Frey of Magdeburg which means he belongs to nobility. I come back to that soon.

London, 1888.
Jack the Ripper spreads terror. Police and government are under pressure from Crown and public. The fear of uproar is palpable.

Jayne Catherine pinkett
Aug 16, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Oh you MUST read this. Its a cross between Sherlock Holmes and The Phantom of the Opera!!!!! Historical fiction set in Victorian times. One of my favourite eras.
This is book 1 of Inspector Fry from London CID working with Inspector McGray of Edinburgh. The characterisations are so good. I feel that even though its book 1 I know them so well. Very different personalities and they don't particularly like each other, but that is part of the charm. Very good plot. Its a little bit dark and scary but
Aug 20, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: favorites
the plot twists were astounding and it blew my mind. I bought this because of the author's surname and he has entertained me the whole road through the novel.
Sep 11, 2020 rated it really liked it
Really enjoyed the two main characters as they were totally different from each other and resented each other from the beginning.
It was good to learn about McGray's family history and why he acted as he did
Frey certainly annoyed me at first as he found it hard to relate to the poorer side of society but McGray soon opened his eyes to that.
The plot was certainly different as there was quite a lot relating to superstition and devilry.
I couldn't give it a 5 as I don't particularly enjoy humour with
Jan 20, 2015 rated it really liked it
I could tell you that I wanted to read Oscar de Muriel’s debut novel „The Strings of Murder“ because it’s set in my two favorite cities London (although this only applies for the first few chapters) and Edinburgh, or because the story takes place in 1888 which to me is by far the most exciting year in crime history due to the mysterious serial killer Jack the Ripper, or because I just can’t get enough of thrillers that deal with the Victorian era, and all these reasons would be true – but let’s ...more
May 31, 2016 rated it really liked it
Shelves: mysteries
In the 1930s-40s, John Dickson Carr was regarded as the master of the locked room mystery. He had imitators, though none surpassed him in coming up with complicated (sometimes unrealistic) means of committing his crimes. The theme is not so common today.
But Oscar de Muriel revives it in an outstanding manner in this novel.
A violinist is brutally murdered in his music studio, which is locked from the inside. The only other access is via a window, two-stories up and also padlocked from the inside,
Elaine Tomasso
Feb 08, 2016 rated it it was amazing
I have only recently started to read historical crime fiction on a regular basis so I'm always on the lookout for interesting reads. The Strings Of Murder was recommended by so I thought I'd give it a go and I wasn't disappointed.
Ian Frey is a detective at Scotland Yard but in the fallout of the Ripper murders he is on the wrong side politically and faces a stark choice - the sack or a secondment to Edinburgh to look into a potential Ripper copycat where success could mean
Jul 31, 2015 rated it liked it
An assistant inspector at Scotland Yard, Ian Frey, who has close ties to the head of police, finds himself relegated to Edinburgh (or as the character's father calls it, "Edin-bloody-burgh!"), when the head is forced to resign.

He is asked to help solve a locked-room mystery involving the brutal murder of violinist. Frey is forced to live with and work under a Scot who is the exact opposite of Frey and outside of trying to solve the case, they spend all of their time trading insults.

The book cap
Jan 23, 2018 rated it it was ok

I really wanted to like this book but the characters were stereotypically silly with the Scottish detective wearing head-to-toe tartan and all his dialogue litterer with ‘Aye, Ken, Ye, Och’ just incase you forgot he is supposed to be Scottish. The upper class English detective is a snob, always fussing over his clothes and saying ‘bloody hell’ and ‘Jesus christ’. I couldn’t say if they were likeable or unlikable characters because they were not fleshed out enough to feel like real people.
Nov 01, 2014 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I found this a bit slow to start with, it laboured through the introduction and characterisation, only really finding it's feet about a third of the way through. Then it got really good! I was impressed with how the storyline zipped along, twisting all over the shot without giving the reader any inkling on how it was going to be resolved.

Will definitely read the the next one.
Sep 17, 2017 rated it it was amazing
This mystery was well written and hit all the right buttons for me. The Mystery was well thought out and the characters were likeable in their own way. I quite enjoyed the interaction amongst the characters and enjoyed the chuckles they provided. I recommend this mystery.
Laura Andersen
It's been a long time since I've read a book in one day. Thank you, snow storm :) I especially loved the depictions of Edinburgh--I always knew where the were! I will definitely read more of this series.
Having foolishly read two 800+ page books in a row (ughhhh), I turned to the Strings of Murder in the hope of something light, engaging, easy to follow, and funny that I could read in just a couple of days. Normally, whenever I find myself in a reading slump, historical fiction is just the thing to cure it, and I assumed that this book with its absolutely gorgeous cover design would be no different. Alas, I was wrong. This book is... bad. Not terrible exactly; I can fully understand why other pe ...more
Barbara Heckendorn
Mar 23, 2019 rated it really liked it
What a great way to get started with the A Case for Frey & McGray series. Inspector Ian Frey is no longer welcome at Scotland Yard. But since he comes from a well-known wealthy home, you can not just put him on the street. So he's relocated to Edinburgh to help his new boss, Inspector McGrey. Having arrived in Edinburgh, Frey does not fit in and he's eager to get the case down as quickly as possible so he can go back to London. This is wishful thinking. McGrey picks him up at his house. The chem ...more
Freya Smeets
Oct 05, 2019 rated it really liked it
4.5 stars - thoroughly enjoyed and I look forward to finding out what Frey & McGray get up to in the next book ...more
Theunis Snyman
Jun 18, 2020 rated it really liked it
Except for the prologue the first 15 % or so of this book, is totally superfluous. The book should have started when the detective arrives in Edinburgh with just a short mention, not more than a page, of why he went there. But once the detection starts the excitement builds up in an ever increasing way to a terrific and emotional climax. There is mystery and horror galore. The locked room murder has an unusual, but totally reasonable, explanation. And then there is the violin that is cursed. And ...more
Robyn Marshall
Jan 31, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Thoroughly enjoyed this book!
Thanks to Carys and Freya for buying it for me x
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Oscar de Muriel was born in Mexico City in 1983 and moved to the UK to complete his PhD. He is a chemist, translator and violinist who now lives and works in Manchester. The Loch of the Dead is his fourth novel, following A Mask of Shadows, A Fever of the Blood and The Strings of Murder.

Other books in the series

Frey & McGray (6 books)
  • A Fever of the Blood (Frey & McGray, #2)
  • A Mask of Shadows (Frey & McGray, #3)
  • The Loch of the Dead (Frey & McGray, #4)
  • The Darker Arts (Frey & McGray, #5)
  • The Dance of the Serpents (Frey & McGray, #6)

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You know the saying: There's no time like the present...unless you're looking for a distraction from the current moment. In that case, we can't...
50 likes · 20 comments
“Paganini tuvo muchas, muchas amiguitas, y varias de sus mujeres murieron en circunstancias sospechosas a lo largo de los años. Los rumores se volvieron leyenda: Paganini asesinando a sus mujeres, atrapando sus almas en su violín y luego usando sus entrañas para fabricar sus cuerdas. (McGray a Frey sobre Paganini)” 0 likes
“No puedo dedscribir el horror que me invadió, pues ante mis ojos estaba el espectáculo más macabro que jamás haya visto: una jungla de intestinos humanos colgando de ganchos clavados al techo y meciéndose como cadáveres pendiendo de una horca.” 0 likes
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