Meet Tessa Kilpatrick; heiress and war-time covert operations agent.
Finding her husband – the feckless James – with another woman at a 1920s country house party, she demands a divorce. But when his body is discovered in a lonely stone bothy the next morning, Inspector Hamish Rasmussen sees Tessa as his only suspect.
Back in Edinburgh, links to another murder convince Rasmussen of her innocence. He enlists her help and together they set off on a pursuit that will bring Tessa once again face to face with the brutality of war as well as revealing to her the lengths that desperate people will go to in order to protect those they love.
Will Tessa be able to prevent a final murder or will she become the killer’s latest victim?
I absolutely loved this very readable debut from Vanessa Robertson and I am so excited to be kicking off the blogtour with my fabulous fellow #BookBloggingBelle Joanne – otherwise known as @portybelle. Make sure you head over to her blog later on today to find out what she thought of Death Will Find Me too.
As soon as I received the email, describing it to me from the lovely Kelly at LoveBooksGroup, I knew that I wanted to read it – it sounded perfect reading for a weekend break in Edinburgh and I couldn’t have chosen a better or more atmospheric novel to keep me company in my city hideaway…
If you read my blog, you’ll know that I love both a historical read and a book with a strong female lead that I can identify with and feel like I’ve time-travelled into their life for a few hours whilst reading it. When a historically based novel is well done, it’s my favourite kind of book – but it can be notoriously difficult to pull off effectively. Often, I’ve been left disappointed by a character who really feels ‘out of time’ or displays attitudes and ideas that are totally removed from that time period – or I’d feel unconvinced by their relationships and conversations as just feeling, well, way too modern…
Death Will Find Me is fortunately not one of those books: this first adventure of the indomitable Tessa Kilpatrick is fantastically realised slice of the 1920s– whether we are with Tessa at that fateful country house party or following the trail of a killer with the fantastically named Hamish Rasmussen in the New Town of Edinburgh I found myself equally engaged and enjoyed the way that these two very different characters and settings complemented and chimed with one another. The fact that I was in Edinburgh whilst I was reading it added another layer of enjoyment for me as I imagined walking the same imposing streets as the characters in the novel as I strolled down Howe Street to Circus place, lost in the atmosphere of the fabulous 1920s.
Another part of the New Town that I love is our portrait gallery and in my research after finishing Vanessa Robertson’s book, I discovered that there is a matching portrait to the the Rupert Brooke poem that opens the book:
Oh! Death will find me, long before I tire
Of watching you; and swing me suddenly
Into the shade and loneliness and mire
which you can admire right here
There are many ways to apply this snatch of poetry to the way that Tessa and Hamish find their lives unfolding in this novel. After the fateful night when James dies and Tess finds herself in the frame for his murder, she definitely finds herself in the shade and loneliness and mire where she feels compelled to start asking questions about what really happened that night, determined to get to the bottom of the mystery, and clear her name – whilst the idea of death finding her is also a pertinent one.
Tess feels alone and isolated in the early part of this novel, and her determination to get to the bottom of this mystery, whilst not falling a victim herself drives the narrative forward as we, just like Tess want to find out how all the strands of this story connect. The painting itself has both a melancholy and mysterious air and I found myself thinking about the shadowy figures in this novel that Tessa finds herself surrounded by as I looked at the painting and thought about how I could connect it with the feeling of this book.
Hamish Rasmussen is a compelling character too; the parts of the novel that describe his sleuthing with Tess in 1920s Edinburgh were among my favourite parts of this book; I really found it such a satisfying read. If you are a fan of the fantastic Sara Sheridan – which I definitely am, you’ll enjoy the atmosphere here. There is that same period detail with a compelling female lead that I really enjoy and I can see this series gathering admirers as the doughty Mirabelle Bevan has.
You don’t have to be a fan of historical fiction to fall for with this book either, and I feel like the readability of Vanessa Robertson’s novel could convert the staunchest of contemporary fiction fans. I thoroughly recommend Death Will Find Me to anyone looking for a book that will allow them to drop right into a fictional world and feel what it might be like to live there.
Tessa is a fabulous character and I am conscious of not saying too much as I’d love you to meet her for yourself. Suffice to say her somewhat mysterious back-story as a covert operations agent means that she isn’t your average ‘Bright Young Thing’ and – perhaps because of this – does not always find it easy to navigate the restrictive social niceties of the time or restrict herself to the kind of activities or opinions that other ‘nice gels’ of her time might be expected to – and she is all the more compelling a character because of this. I found this fabulous portrait online and it really made me wish I could go back in time and meet her
Having spent so many years selling books in The Edinburgh Bookshop, Vanessa Robertson clearly has a very real understanding of what readers look for in a great read and this comes across very clearly in her debut novel. Her story of winning Bloody Scotland’s Pitch Perfect is a fantastic one and it must be wonderful to see everything coming together now the book is published. I really can’t wait for the second instalment in Tess Kilpatrick’s adventures and am delighted that I won’t have to wait too long in order to do so. I’ve only got the ebook of this novel, but I’m looking forward to treating myself to a hard copy before too long!
If you want to read the blogposts of more bloggers who will be telling you what they think of this fabulous period treat then follow the blogtour below:
Thanks to Kelly at LoveBooksGroup for inviting me to take part in the blog tour and for my copy of the book.
Death Will Find Me is available now. Click here to order yourself a copy
Writer On The Shelf
Being a writer was a dream from childhood but I gave up on the idea of writing when I was a teenager, not long after I abandoned other childhood ambitions of being a trapeze artist or a spy. After acquiring a couple of degrees and trying various ‘proper jobs’, I realised that I am fundamentally unsuited to office politics, bad coffee, and wearing tights.
My husband and I founded The Edinburgh Bookshop, winner of many awards. Bookselling is a wonderful profession and a good bookshop is a source of pure joy to me. I love independent bookshops and the amazing job they do in championing reading, supporting authors, and building communities. But, after a few years, it was time for a change and we sold the bookshop to make way for other projects.
I took the opportunity to start writing again and was a winner at Bloody Scotland’s Pitch Perfect event for unpublished authors in 2015. It was a fantastic opportunity and getting such positive feedback about my ideas gave me the push I needed to take my writing seriously.
I live in Edinburgh with my husband, our teenage son and an unfeasibly large Leonberger dog. I can usually be found walking on windy Scottish beaches, browsing in bookshops, or tapping away on my laptop in one of the scores of cafes near my home.
Read Vanessa’s blog and find out more about her here