Constable 7th March (Hardback)
How do you find a killer when you’re surrounded by madness?
1935. As Europe prepares itself for a calamitous war, six homicidal lunatics – the so called ‘Devil’s Six’ – are confined in a remote castle asylum in rural Czechoslovakia. Each patient has their own dark story to tell and Dr Viktor Kosarek, a young psychiatrist using revolutionary techniques, is tasked with unlocking their murderous secrets.
At the same time, a terrifying killer known as ‘Leather Apron’ is butchering victims across Prague. Successfully eluding capture, it would seem his depraved crimes are committed by the Devil himself. What links him with the insane inmates of the Castle of the Eagles?
Only the Devil knows. And it is up to Viktor to find out.
Inspired by the folklore of Eastern Europe and set in the shadows of Nazi darkness erupting just beyond the Czech border, this stylishly written, twisted, richly imagined novel is impossible to put down.
A dark and intriguing novel which proved to be a gripping and compelling read for me, hard to put down with short enough chapters to tempt me into reading just one more.
While a serial killer terrorises Prague, violent in nature drawing comparisons to Jack the Ripper, the fiend that had haunted the streets of London’s East End some half a century previously, Psychiatrist Dr Viktor Kosarek is trialling a revolutionary treatment in Czechoslovakia’s most notorious asylum.
This is one dark novel on a number of levels. Set in pre war central Europe, the Nazis are on the rise and the notion of ethnic cleansing is gaining popularity. Within the asylum Dr Viktor is using unconventional methods to grapple with the unconscious minds of some of Europe’s most violent and insane criminals – known publicly as the ‘Devil’s Six’. With a serial killer in Prague committing heinous crimes against women the darkness is complete! But on every level this novel wins – for readers who don’t mind some gruesome gore I might add!
For me the themes of this novel appealed to me – the treatment of what we would now call forensic patients; the criminally insane, the drives of the unconscious and the supernatural – the devil and folklore, mythology and stories. Seriously, how could this not appeal?
The two subplots are told concurrently, that is chapters set in the asylum detailing the work of Dr Kosarek and his notorious patients, and chapters set in Prague as we follow the criminal investigation led by Kapitan Lukas Smolak into the serial killer known as ‘Leather Apron’. Needless to say these two stories cross and merge as the book progresses. Told in the third person throughout from the perspective of the two aforementioned characters. My personal preference was the parts of the story set in the asylum but the murder in Prague captured the ‘supernatural’ element which was a theme for all of the six patients and guided the reader in the direction the story was taking.
A successful piece of crime / horror fiction which kept my attention, concluded very well and certainly kept me guessing throughout.
A dark, dark read but if that doesn’t worry you then I would definitely recommend you read this book!
Thank you to Clara Diaz at Little Brown for inviting me to be involved in this blog tour and providing me with a copy of the book. This is a blogtour so please do check out what others are saying about this book and please share across Social Media!
About the Author
Craig Russell’s novels have been published in twenty-five languages; four have been made into major films in Germany, in one of which he has a cameo role as a detective. He has won the CWA Dagger in the Library and the McIivanney Prize (for which he has been shortlisted another twice), and has previously been shortlisted for the CWA Golden Dagger, the Ellis Peters Historical Dagger and the SNCF Prix Polar in France. A former police officer, Craig Russell is the only non-German to have been awarded the Polizeistern – the Hamburg Police’s Police Star.
When not writing Craig Russell paints, cooks and reads, but not simultaneously.