Monday, January 14, 2008

A New Book: Waterloo Sunset

by Martin Edwards, guest blogger
After three Lake District mysteries, I’m going back to my first series, set in Liverpool, for my next novel. Waterloo Sunset features the return of lawyer Harry Devlin, who appeared in seven books in the 1990s. All the novels, like this one, take their titles from 1960s pop songs - and in case you’re wondering, Waterloo happens to be a waterfront suburb of Liverpool, which currently features the eerie and unforgettable Antony Gormley statues known as ‘Another Place’.

I’ve always had a lot of affection for the character of Harry Devlin, although his life (I too work by day as a lawyer in Liverpool) is very different from mine – thank goodness. His doggedness, integrity and passion for justice seem to me to be admirable qualities. They are certainly much needed in this latest book, which opens with his receipt of a mock-obituary recording his death on Midsummer’s Eve – which happens to be in seven days’ time. The story charts his attempt to discover the truth about his unknown enemy, as well as his unwitting involvement in a series of murders of women in the city.

Because several years have passed since the last Devlin book, I wanted to use the gap in time positively, to show how his life had moved on in the interim – and also how the city had developed. In 2008, Liverpool is European Capital of Culture – a fitting celebration of a place that is as charismatic and exciting as any I know. Liverpool was once the second city of the British Empire, but over the last fifty years (despite the Beatles and the great pop music era of the Mersey Sound in the 60s) its glories have faded. Now, however, it is enjoying a renaissance; the creation of a mini-Manhattan type skyline along the famous waterfront is only a part of the change that is taking place. I’m aiming to give people who don’t know the city an idea of its amazing character by including not only photos but possibly also some interesting video, on my website and my blog during the course of the year.

I wanted this latest story to play a key part in the series as a whole, charting the city’s fall and rise. This seems to me to be one of the great attractions of a series – over the years, the main characters change and grow, and so does the society in which they live and work. This is the first Devlin mystery to be published around the same time in the US as in the UK, and the Poisoned Pen Press edition is due out in April. The Devlin books did very well in Britain and (for reasons I’ve never quite figured out) in Italy, but so far, the Lake District Mysteries have tended to be more popular in the States. I’m hoping that the new book will interest more American readers in the character of Harry, and the city where, in Waterloo Sunset, he faces a fight for his very survival.


Sofie Kelly said...

As soon as I read Liverpool you had me--my mother's British. Tell me a little more about Harry.

Martin Edwards said...

Hi Darlene. Harry's estranged wife Liz is murdered in the first book in the series, 'All the Lonely People', and he has to clear himself from suspicion as well as avenge her. He's a rather down at heel lawyer, a native Liverpudlian, and not very successful either in law or in love. But he is dogged and likeable and he has a passion for justice and these qualities see him through. Usually...

Julia Buckley said...

It does sound like a good novel, Martin. I'm heading to the library at the end of the week, so I'll make sure to tell them to order your books!