Tangled Web UK Review July 2000
The First Cut is the Deepest by
pbk out June 00
Another mystery from the very able pen of Martin Edwards, a Liverpool solicitor, who writes about Harry Devlin - a Liverpool solictor. His serial hero is a slightly dishevelled lawyer on Merseyside, who seems more successful in pulling the ladies than at actually labouring at the law. I suspect that the author, whose bio-data inside the cover indicates that he is the ultra-respectable head of Employment Law at a posh firm of solicitors, uses Harry Devlin as his alter ego, projecting on to him his own hidden desire to be more of a tear-away - but maybe that's just my hopelessly-adrift amateur psychology.
In this yarn, Harry is having an affair with the wife of a local super-villian, risking at least his knee-caps if he is found out. Whilst he is pleasuring the lady, their next-door neighbour, a senior member of the local Crown Prosecution Service, is found beheaded (more wishful thinking?) and the plot becomes more tortuous with every page. A crooked partnership is at the root of the problem, but there are many intriguing sidelines, such as the lady prosecutor who worked her way through law school by working as Miss Whiplash in a Manchester torture chamber!
The attraction of Martin Edward's books is in the writing, which is delightful, being humourous, quirky and so easy to read. He also has a wealth of interesting topographical details about Liverpool and the Wirral - I never knew there was a network of underground passages beneath Merseyside, called Williamson's Tunnels.
Each part of the book is prefaced by extracts from Bram Stoker's Dracula, which justifies a previous review of his work as having 'a darker noir sensibility'.
This is not quite my favorite amongst Martin Edward's books, but even his worst are very, very good.
- Author of the highly acclaimed Crowner John series set in Medieval Devon)