City of Dreadful Night (The Brighton Trilogy)

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9781847512765: City of Dreadful Night (The Brighton Trilogy)
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First gripping mystery in the Brighton Trilogy - July 1934.  A woman’s torso is found in a trunk at Brighton railway station’s left luggage office. Her identity is never established, her killer never caught. But someone is keeping a diary . . . July 2009. Ambitious radio journalist Kate Simpson hopes to solve the notorious Brighton Trunk Murder, and she enlists the help of ex-Chief Constable Robert Watts, whose role in the recent botched armed-police operation in Milldean, Brighton’s notorious no-go area, cost him his job. But it’s only a matter of time before past and present collide . . .

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From the Author:

There is a folder of photographs in the English National Archives, within a bigger folder of documents. If you're not careful you don't realise they are photographs - but you need to be careful. For when you open them you get a horrible shock. Depending on the order the last person has left them in you're going to see a pair of legs hacked off at the top of the thigh standing to unwieldy attention against a white tile wall.You're going to see a naked female torso in medium shot, lying on a dissecting table with the same legs laid out below them but separated from them so that you can see they are a match but no longer connected.
You're going to see that torso, without legs, arms or head in terrible and shameful and pitiless close-up from every possible angle.
The victim of the Brighton Trunk murderer, exposed for all to see in Sir Bernard Spilsbury's pathology laboratory in London, June 1934.
Her murderer was never exposed because never found.
That murder is one half of City of Dreadful Night. (Title courtesy of a suitably gloomy Victorian poem and a Rudyard Kipling story.)
The other half is modern policing from the top down. A Chief Constable defending his officers who have messed up big time in a contemporary armed operation. His police authority and a devious government spin doctor (actually, that "devious" makes that phrase a tautology, doesn't it?) force his resignation, with a little bit of black ops' scandal thrown in.
Brighton, Brighton - so seedy yet so swish they had to name it twice. Okay, strictly speaking they named it Brighton and Hove but that somehow doesn't quite work. But, in writer terms, so big you have to give it a trilogy. 
So City became the first of three. Last King of Brighton comes out in February 2011. God's Lonely Man in August 2011. It's a twisting story. The sequels extend it and revisit both the Trunk murder and the contemporary story. They can be read in any order but City first is best. The plotting was inspired by that of Lawrence Durrell's Alexandria Quartet, in which everything shifts with each successive novel in the series. Hope readers stay with it.

About the Author:

Peter Guttridge is the Observer s crime fiction critic, and a longstanding fiction prize judge and chair at a wide range of literature festivals and events. He lives in Brighton, Sussex, where this novel is set.

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