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‘An enticing and clever book, inside and out’ Book Of The MonthThe Times

York, 1799.

In August, an artist is found murdered in his home – stabbed with a pair of scissors. Matthew Harvey’s death is much discussed in the city. The scissors are among the tools of his trade – for Harvey is a renowned cutter and painter of shades, or silhouettes, the latest fashion in portraiture. It soon becomes clear that the murderer must be one of the artist’s last sitters, and the people depicted in the final six shades made by him become the key suspects. But who are they? And where are they to be found?

Later, in November, a clever but impoverished young gentleman called Fletcher Rigge languishes in the debtor’s prison, until a letter arrives containing a bizarre proposition from the son of the murdered man. Rigge is to be released for one month, but in that time, he must find the killer. If he fails, he will be incarcerated again, possibly for life.

And so, with everything at stake, and equipped only with copies of the distinctive silhouettes, Fletcher Rigge begins his search across the snow-covered city, and enters a world of shadows…

Reviews

Drier than a cream cracker; northern not only in vernacular but saturninity which envelops like a quilt giving off cigar smoke and port; memorable characters who vie for oddity or unpleasantness . . . Andrew Martin's splendidly drawn snow-smothered York is a perfect foil for his sooty 18th-century gubbins and goings on, in which little turns out to be precisely black - or precisely white.
Evening Standard
'The book's many voices are written with skill, and York's parallel worlds of fashion and poverty are vividly created. The physical book itself is stunning - the front of the hardback is swirled with soot, and the pages are black-edged. An enticing and clever book, inside and out'. Book Of The Month.
The Times
A literary thriller of great ingenuity and originality
Sunday Times
A fascinating read
Catholic Herald
In a cunningly constructed narrative made up of letters, diaries and other documents, the mystery is unravelled with a nod to the 18th-century novel while remaining bang up-to-date . . . Strong characters, humour and a dash of the picaresque flesh out a sophisticated, confident and intriguing treat.
Daily Mail
Exquisitely written . . . Soot is a well-made whodunnit, an artful pastiche and an atmospheric recreation of Georgian England . . . Comic but never arch, it is an artfully sophisticated entertainment
Irish Times
This witty novel brings the fashions and sins of Georgian York and London to life.
Sunday Express
A quirky, atmospheric tale . . . an intriguing page-turner with a realistically fallible protagonist
Independent i paper
As well as being a skilfully constructed whodunnit, Soot is an impeccably researched and wonderfully atmospheric evocation of Georgian England . . . Vivid and pungent, with plenty of grotesquery and dry humour, it's a virtuoso performance from a master of historical crime fiction.
the Guardian