Circles of Deceit is the second in the Josiah Ainscough Casebook series and, like the first novel, Children of Fire, is a brilliantly imagined visit to Nineteenth century Northern England, a period rich in drama and social change. This time, the backdrop is the General Strike of 1842 and the struggles of the Chartist movement. Constable Ainscough is caught up in an attempted assassination of the Chartist Leader Fergus O’Connor and comes to the attention of the Manchester police force, an organisation still very much in its infancy. Ainscough is gaining a reputation for fairness and integrity, and as I’d hoped when I read Beatty’s first novel, is back for another case.
This time, Ainscough is pitted against The Sneaker, a shadowy figure with an excellent aim. The reader is allowed an insight into the increasingly febrile mind of Ainscough’s opponent; it becomes clear that events are fuelling the wider political unrest – the Peterloo Massacre is still uppermost in the public consciousness – and that the woman Ainscough is falling in love with is also vulnerable to harm.
This, as with Children of Fire, feels meticulously researched. Beatty has an ear for dialogue – one of my favourite scenes is the ‘Committee of Public Safety’ meeting in which a millowner negotiates for a hiatus in a strike with a group of underground revolutionaries – and a fine eye for nuance and detail. Together with the tense plotting, this makes for a fascinating read.
Catch the rest of the blog tour here:
Murder, conspiracy, radicalism, poverty, riot, violence, capitalism, technology: everything is up for grabs in the early part of Victoria’s reign.
Radical politicians, constitutional activists and trade unionists are being professionally assassinated. When Josiah Ainscough of the Stockport Police thwarts an attempt on the life of the Chartist leader, Feargus O’Connor, he receives public praise, but earns the enmity of the assassin, who vows to kill him.
‘Circles of Deceit’, the second of Paul CW Beatty’s Constable Josiah Ainscough’s historical murder mysteries, gives a superb and electric picture of what it was to live in 1840s England. The novel is set in one of the most turbulent political periods in British history, 1842-1843, when liberties and constitutional change were at the top of the political agenda, pursued using methods fair or foul.
Paul CW Beatty is an unusual combination of a novelist and a research scientist. Having worked for many years in medical research in the UK NHS and Universities, a few years ago he took an MA in Creative Writing at Manchester Metropolitan University emerging with a distinction.
His first novel, Children of Fire, is a Victorian murder mystery set in 1841 at the height of the industrial revolution. It won the Writing Magazine’s Best Novel Award in November 2017 and is published by The Book Guild Ltd.
Paul lives near Manchester in the northwest of England. Children of Fire is set against the hills of the Peak District as well as the canals and other industrial infrastructure of the Cottonopolis know as the City of Manchester.
Social Media Links – Twitter @cw_beatty