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The Darker Arts

(Frey & McGray #5)

4.44  ·  Rating details ·  122 ratings  ·  18 reviews

Madame Katerina, Detective 'Nine Nails' McGray's most trusted clairvoyant, hosts a séance for three of Edinburgh's wealthiest families.

The following morning everyone is found dead, with Madame Katerina being the only survivor. When questioned she alleges a tormented spirit killed the families for revenge.

McGray, even though he believes her, must find a rational explanation

Kindle Edition, 432 pages
Published August 8th 2019 by Orion
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For reasons unknown even to me, I wanted to read this at night. I'm not sleeping that well anyway at the moment so thought this would at least keep me entertained in the twilight hours. Can I just say - this WILL keep you entertained in those quiet hours and it's a brilliant time to enhance the spooky feel of the story (not that it needs it - Oscar's writing stands on its own!)

Full review to come. 5 stars!

Ever been interested in participating in a seance? well, that’s what you
Lieselot Mauroo
Aug 28, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Another brilliant Frey & McGray story, captivating from start to finish.
This one was a classic who done it mystery with a gothic twist and oh so intriguing to read.
Again, very different from the previous books, but outstanding in its own way; holding my attention throughout the novel, keeping me on the edge of my seat at all times.

I really have not much more to add than that Oscar de Muriel is a very gifted, talented and brilliant writer; in my opinion, one of the best writers out there at
Wulf Krueger
I read one book at a time, always. I simply cannot just “switch” from one book to another anymore. So, if I hit a rotten tomato I tend to actually read less.

I’m typing this on my iPhone. A minute ago, I found myself wondering and thinking, “I usually read at a time like this.” - while I was playing a game. Then it began to dawn on me: ‘How much must you despise a book to fantasise about writing its review on GoodReads while actively trying to avoid reading said book?!‘

The answer in a nutshell:
Sep 19, 2019 rated it it was amazing
This series just gets better and better. Frey and McGray are wonderful characters who keep evolving. So are minor characters such as Mary and Katarina in this case. The plot was so suspenseful it kept me up reading at night, turning page after page frantically (until the solution finally dawned on me a few pages before the big reveal, I must admit, but it was still fun to read it). The background of dreary Scotland is somewhat less dominant this time, not an actual character like in previous ...more
This is an excellent series and I think this one might even be my favourite. It's one of those closed room mysteries (which I always enjoy) with a Victorian twist. Seven people take part in a seance and only the medium leaves the room alive. Inspectors Frey and McGray (Nine Nails) are such favourites of mine and it's good to see them again as we return to the darkly colourful and witty world of Edinburgh in the 1880s. Oscar de Muriel's writing, as always, is an absolute joy to read. Review to ...more
Aug 26, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Book number five in the Frey and McGray series. In this book, 'Nine Nails' McGray's trusted friend and Clairvoyant Madame Katerina hosts a seance for one of Edinburgh's wealthiest families. But the following morning the six who attended are found dead by the family's valet. Madame Katerina is the only survivor and is accused of the murders. As the whole of Edinburgh is baying for blood, the witch hunt begins.
Frey and McGray are tasked with the impossible duty to ascertain what really happened at
Sep 12, 2019 rated it really liked it
I only realised it was the fifth book in the series after a few chapters - but by then, it was too late. I was really getting into the story! I liked the duo Frey & McGray. The contrasting personalities worked well together. The writing flows beautifully throughout the book. I may have noted a few inconsistencies while reading, but I cannot remember them now. I l also appreciated the ambiguities towards the last few chapters and how they all tied in together. Highly recommended!
Jayne Catherine pinkett
I received a finished copy of this book from the publisher for my independent honest review. Thank you
3.5* I love this series and after the magnificence of Loch of the Dead I found this to be a little bland. I was so looking forward to the story focusing on Madame Katerina and I did enjoy it but my least favourite so far. The essence of Victorian Scotland is still captured very well, however the convoluted family tree of those involved in the seance disjointed the plot and my reading experience
Oct 18, 2019 rated it really liked it
Another well-crafted Victorian mystery by Oscar de Muriel. While still keeping with the usual hints at a possible supernatural connection, mainly by superstitious McGray, this is probably the most classical police investigation Frey & McGray have conducted so far. McGray's trusted clairvoyant Madame Katerina is accused of having murdered six people during a seance and the odd detective duo has a hard time trying to prove her innocence. Surprisingly enough, the lion's share of the ...more
Kelly Daniel
Oct 04, 2019 rated it liked it
I am totally a fan of de Muriel and of the refreshingly irreverent McGrey and Fray partnership. In fact, I have given the previous novels rave reviews. I wanted so much to do the same here and I am glad to see that other readers have loved this instalment in the series; I'm sorry that I did not, this time.

The story starts intriguingly enough but more and more the reader is bogged down in legalities, inheritance, deeds and so many false leads that far from an interesting conundrum we are faced
J. Griff
Sep 29, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
As promised my review.

Oscar de Muriel is a amazing mystery writer! Yes I said it. This is his 5th book & he just keeps getting better & I love the character growth he is showing in Ian Frey from the first book "The Strings of Murder". The complexity of the murder was beyond me how anyone could come up with & Oscar tied everything up so neatly by the end. Now the reason for 4 stars & not 5 stars was the epilogue didn't feel quite genuine enough to me & felt slightly trite. I
Nov 21, 2019 rated it really liked it
This Frey and McGray book was particularly good, in this one their friend Madam Katerina is accused of murder after a seance gone wrong. It’s a race against time to find evidence to prove her innocence. It was a particularly poignant book, dealing in part with grief, but it was also rather laugh out loud funny, with the jokes between Frey and McGray plus an unfortunately named and much loathed lawyer called Pratt, being rather good.
Brian Centrone
Aug 25, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I love spending time with these characters. 5 books in and they are like familiar friends you are so fully comfortable with and know so well. As always, the story builds to a heart-palpating finale with twists to spare. Always a satisfying conclusion and a tease for what lies ahead... I can’t wait for book 6!
Shay Zullo
Sep 27, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
What a great story!

I've read all of the other books in this series and I have to say this one was the best. I was hooked from start to finish. I had to find out how it ended. Thank you for writing such an entertaining series of books!
Oct 05, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Not quite as epic as the last book but still great. I love the banter :)
Sep 27, 2019 rated it liked it
Less dark and gory than the previous one, and back in Edinburgh again with plenty of banter and bickering. The ending seemed a bit rushed, with the race to the gallows a bit overdone...
Sep 02, 2019 rated it liked it
I didn't like this novel as much as the last ones. First me the interrogations go on and on, with too few clues to start me trying to guess .while did it.
April Lewis llb
Nov 16, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Fantastic fifth book totally absorbing couldnt put it down.
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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 (5 books)
  • The Strings of Murder (Frey & McGray, #1)
  • A Fever of the Blood (Frey & McGray, #2)
  • A Mask of Shadows (Frey & McGray, #3)
  • The Loch of the Dead (Frey & McGray, #4)