Today is my stop on the blog tour for The Amber Maze by Christopher Bowden.
While staying in a Dorset cottage, Hugh Mullion finds a mysterious key down the side of an antique chair. No one can say how long the key has been there or what it opens.
Hugh’s search for answers will unlock the secrets of the troubled life of a talented artist, destined to be hailed a neglected genius fifty years too late. And no secret is darker than that of The Amber Maze, from whose malign influence he never escaped.
The trail takes Hugh from Edwardian Oxfordshire to 1960s Camden Town, where the ghosts of the past are finally laid to rest.
Delicately crafted noir fiction at its best.
As someone with a keen interest in stately homes and the family secrets hidden within their walls, this book was right up my street. With a power-hungry heir, cover ups of near tragedies, and a secret society, this had everything that I hope to find whenever I step through the door of a National Trust house.
Christopher Bowden’s skill for weaving a sense of intrigue is apparent from the moment of the arrival of a mysterious chair in the holiday home being rented by our hero, Hugh Mullion. He almost seems to assign the chair a personality all of its own, as it swallows Hugh’s change, making him fight for its return, and luring him to the key that triggers Hugh’s investigation. This skill is further evident in the pace of the writing as Hugh enters the maze for the first time, which makes his fear almost palpable. As someone who is not a fan of mazes, I could feel my heart starting to race, and feelings of claustrophobia setting in as he struggled to find his way to the centre, and the exit.
Despite the fact that this is a relatively short book, it never feels rushed, and the author creates a cast of memorable characters, from relatable Hugh, an investigator after my own heart, to irrepressible Hester and her wild clothing choices.
Although this book works perfectly as a standalone, it is a sequel of sorts to The Blue Book, and references to characters that appeared in that book make me want to go back and read the rest of the author’s works.
MEET THE AUTHOR:
Christopher Bowden lives in south London. The Amber Maze is the sixth of his colour-themed novels, which have been praised variously by Andrew Marr, Julian Fellowes, Sir Derek Jacobi, and Shena Mackay.
Many thanks to Christopher and to Rachel’s Random Resources for inviting me to take part in this blog tour, and for providing me with my copy of the book. Details of the other blogs taking part in the tour are as follows.