Welcome to my stop on Rachel’s Random Resources blog tour for The Red Hand Of Fury. We have a guest post, extract and giveaway, but before I hand you over to R.N. Morris, who is going to introduce the main character, here’s a little about the book.
London, June 1914. A young man is mauled to death at London Zoo after deliberately climbing into the bear pit. Shortly afterwards, another young man leaps to his death from the notorious Suicide Bridge. Two seemingly unconnected deaths – and yet there are similarities.
Following a third attempted suicide, Detective Inspector Silas Quinn knows he must uncover the link between the three men if he is to discover what caused them to take their own lives. The one tangible piece of evidence is a card found in each of the victims’ possession, depicting a crudely-drawn red hand. What does it signify? To find the answers, Quinn must revisit his own dark past. But can he keep his sanity in the process …?
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Introducing Silas Quinn
The central character in The Red Hand of Fury is Detective Chief Inspector Silas Quinn. He heads up the Special Crimes Department, a small unit inside New Scotland. Basically, it’s just Silas and two sergeants, Macadam and Inchball. They occupy a cramped room in the attic. Space is tight in there. They often bang their heads if they get up too sharply from their desks.
Silas’s relationship status – it’s complicated.
A long time ago, Silas was a medical student but his father’s death under mysterious circumstances precipitated a breakdown. At the same time, there was also an unpleasant incident with his landlady’s daughter. Silas was in love with her but she preferred another young man. Silas made a bit of a fool of himself, declaring his feelings and working himself up into quite a state. Ever since then he has been awkward around women.
Sex and death.
There’s also the fact that the book is set in 1914, at a time when relations between the sexes were more strained and less natural than today. With his inhibitions and hang-ups, Silas is perhaps nothing more than a man of his time – except maybe a bit more extreme.
Because of his father’s death occurring at the same time as his sexual awakening, Silas has turned out to be one screwed up individual. In the book, you could say he begins to address the issues. But in a fairly dark and dangerous way.
Driven by tension.
I quite enjoying putting Silas in front of various women who are interested in him and watching him squirm. There’s one woman in particular, Miss Latterly, who works as the secretary for the commissioner of the Metropolitan Police Force. She is definitely attracted to Silas, but frustrated by his repressed gaucheness. I think if the relationship is going to move forward, Miss Latterly is going to have to take the initiative.
I got an email recently from a reader who said she hoped that Silas would eventually find love. I suppose that would be nice, but I think the tension caused by his ineptitude provides a certain uncomfortable energy. I can’t imagine what a happy, fulfilled Silas would be like. Perhaps he would lose his motivation to track down killers?
It was the death of his father that caused Silas to become a policeman in the first place. He was determined to get to the bottom of what he sees as the mystery of his father’s death. In fact, the official coroner’s verdict was that his father committed suicide. But Silas has never been able to accept that. In The Red Hand of Fury he comes closer than ever to learning the uncomfortable truth about that tragic incident.
The Red Hand of Fury isn’t the first book in the Silas Quinn series, but I’ve been told by readers that it’s fine if it’s the first one you read. It was certainly my intention writing a series that each book would stand on its own. My plan is that Silas’s character develops over the series, but in each book I make sure that I give enough back story for you to pick up the pieces and work out where you are in that arc. Plus what happens to him in each book is designed to be compelling enough in its own right. But if you do want to start at the beginning, the first book is Summon Up The Blood.
Here’s an extract that shows Silas interacting with Miss Latterly…
Miss Latterly was at her typewriter. She hammered at the keys with an aggressive determination, and did not look up to inform Quinn: ‘He’s with someone.’
Quinn stared disconsolately at Sir Edward Henry’s closed door. ‘I shall come back then.’
‘No. He specifically asked for you to wait. He won’t be long, I’m sure. Do take a seat.’
A weight of disappointment settled on him. The last time they had spoken her tone had been softer, he felt sure. She had expressed a kind of exasperated affection for him, hinting at the possibility of something warmer developing between them. Or had he imagined it? Certainly, he had not acted on whatever encouraging moves she had made, so now of course, her demeanour had reverted to its earlier coldness. Exasperation won over affection. That was inevitable, and he only had himself to blame.
She had given him his chance and he had let it slip through his fingers.
But perhaps it was for the best. Perhaps they would both be happier if they never said another word to one another, other than those required by their duties. And yet that prospect saddened him unspeakably.
He sat down to wait.
Everything that he thought of saying to her sounded like an excuse. I have been very busy . . . a friend died . . . I have not been myself . . . I think I might be coming down with something . . . I’m working on a very difficult case at the moment . . .
Something came out of his mouth. He wasn’t quite sure what.
She heard it. ‘Yes?’
‘The weather has been quite . . .’ He broke off and winced a smile at the difficulty of expressing accurately just how the weather had been. ‘Well, at least it seems to be settling now. It has been stifling in the department.’
Miss Latterly gave vent to a despairing sigh. She might even have shaken her head, but Quinn was afraid to look.
R. N. Morris is the author of eight historical crime novels. His first, A Gentle Axe, was published by Faber and Faber in 2007. Set in St Petersburg in the nineteenth century, it features Porfiry Petrovich, the investigating magistrate from Dostoevsky’s great novel, Crime and Punishment. The book was published in many countries, including Russia. He followed that up with A Vengeful Longing, which was shortlisted for the CWA Gold Dagger. A Razor Wrapped in Silk came next, followed by The Cleansing Flames, which was nominated for the Ellis Peters Historical Novel Dagger. The Silas Quinn series of novels, set in London in 1914, began with Summon Up The Blood, followed by The Mannequin House, The Dark Palace and now The Red Hand of Fury, published on 31 March, 2018.
Taking Comfort is a standalone contemporary novel, written as Roger Morris. He also wrote the libretto to the opera When The Flame Dies, composed by Ed Hughes.