The Darker Arts by Oscar De Muriel (Frey & McGray: Book 5)

Posted on May 13, 2020

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The Storyline

The Darker Arts by Oscar De Muriel (Frey & McGray book 5) courtesy of Amazon.co.uk


It begins mere weeks after we left our heroes dejected and broken, from their last adventure in Loch Maree up in the Highlands. Frey, suffering a huge loss, is back in England in the beautiful county of Gloucestershire, whilst McGray is in Edinburgh, equally at a loss after recent events.

But soon, they will be back together again, as their acquaintance and friend respectively, Madame Katerina, is the main suspect in the murder of six people during a seance. With no witnesses, only the hangman’s noose stands between them and justice, and of course, things otherworldly…

The Review

Now, in my last review of Oscar’s Loch of the Dead, I said it was the best so far in the series. Well, knock me down with a feather, he’s only gone and bettered it, and that took some beating.

This, the fifth in the series of the Frey & McGray mysteries, brings our two heroes closer together, in a case that baffles them more than any previously in their careers, and tests their whole being to its limits. You simply wonder how much more these two can take before saying, ‘sod it, I’m off.’ But they are both driven by a desire to keep going and to seek justice and answers to many questions in life. This is why I love these two characters. I would hate to see them killed off one day, for they’d be great as gentleman detectives in their old age, and it’d be interesting to see them like that.

After the incidents of the last book, Frey is a truly broken man, and McGray knows it, for he has been in a similar situation himself. But whilst one seeks answers through supernatural means, the other looks to science and intellect, to solve the crimes.

Both men almost seem to be melding into one now, but with still many differences, for Frey is becoming weary of the system you feel, and humanity as well; something I understand all too well at times. This case is a classic locked room mystery, and the answer to the crime at the end didn’t occur to me in part, although I suspected a small section of it.

There were also a few resolutions to certain characters situations, or at least something that’s leading to them, and you know it’s going to be sad when you’ve invested your time in reading their journeys through life. Imagine what it must be for a writer who sometimes lives and breathes their creations. I know I have similar with mine, although I’ve barely done anything with them yet…

Calton Jail – from the back of Shakespeare Square – courtesy of edinphoto.org.uk


I remember buying this book at the book signing with my mad American friend Jenny, at the Ensign Ewart, where Frey & McGray drink, and chatting to Oscar over a wee dram or two last August during the Fringe. I got all my books signed and also met E.S Thompson (Elaine), the author of the Jem Lockhart series of crime thrillers. They were both lovely people (I only got to speak to Elaine for a few moments or so) and Oscar is a brilliant musician, a man of many talents. It was a lovely evening and I left a happy man, especially with all my signed copies, but also because it was nice company too.

So, for now, this is the last one until August, when the next one comes out in the series, entitled A Dance of Serpents. It goes without saying I’ll definitely be wanting that for the collection. There is however, a story in poetic form (I’ve done similar ages ago, but not sent them out to publishers yet) called The Falling Shroud, and also a short story called The Hunt, both of which I have read. These are available on download which you can click on the links provided. As ever, I’ll put the reviews up here when I have time, but until then, if you’ve not read any of Oscar’s books yet, why not? Start now and be transported back to 19th century Edinburgh…

As ever, support your local library, and please buy from book shops, especially independent ones if you can, otherwise this is available from all good retailers everywhere.

Buy, Read and Enjoy

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