A Mask of Shadows
Edinburgh, 1889. Before the darlings of London theater—Henry Irving and Ellen Terry—take their acclaimed Macbeth to the Edinburgh stage, terror treads the boards: A grisly message is found smeared across the cobbles in blood, foretelling someone’s demise.As the bloody prophecies continue to come to fruition, “Nine-Nails” McGray and Inspector Ian Frey enter. Frey scoffs at what he believes is a blatant publicity stunt, while McGray is convinced that the supernatural must be at play. They soon discover that Irving, Terry, and their peculiar, preoccupied assistant, Bram Stoker, all have reasons to kill, or be killed. But one thing is clear: by occult curse or human hand, death will take a bow the night the curtain rises.
Set in Edinburgh in 1889, de Muriel's effective third paranormal mystery (after 2017's A Fever of the Blood) puts Adolphus "Nine Nails" McGray and his partner, Insp. Ian Frey, the members of the Commission for the Elucidation of Unsolved Cases Presumably Related to the Odd and Ghostly, on the trail of a banshee that has been haunting a production of Macbeth starring theater legends Ellen Terry and Henry Irving. The banshee leaves behind some ominous messages written in blood, which hint that a murder will be committed on the play's opening night and which may be part of a scheme to terrorize Terry, who finds a bucket of bloody brains in her dressing room. Given that ticket sales have been lagging, the investigators consider the theory that the unsettling events may simply be a ploy to generate publicity. Their inquiry also ends up involving Terry and Irving's assistant, Dracula creator Bram Stoker. While Nicholas Meyer's The West End Horror did a better job of setting a murder case among real-life Victorian actors, de Muriel continues to make his offbeat series concept work. X-Files fans will be pleased.