There have been many bad days in Edinburgh police's secret subdivision 'The Commission for the Elucidation of Unsolved Cases Presumably Related to the Odd and Ghostly'.
But today is surely the worst.
Because the exiled English Inspector Ian Frey, and his Scottish boss 'Nine-Nails' McGray are summoned to a meeting in the middle of the night with the Prime Minister himself.
And he tells them that Queen Victoria - the most powerful person in the world - wants them both dead.
To be pardoned they must embark on a mission so dangerous that they might be saving Her Majesty the job of executing them. Because this case ties together the dark history of the Pendle witches, with the tragic case of McGray own sister, to a conspiracy within the highest office in the land...
Madame Katerina, Detective 'Nine Nails' McGray's most trusted clairvoyant, hosts a séance for three of Edinburgh's wealthiest families.
The following morning everyone is found dead, with Madame Katerina being the only survivor. When questioned she alleges a tormented spirit killed the families for revenge.
McGray, even though he believes her, must find a rational explanation that holds up in court, else Katerina will be sentenced to death.
Inspector Ian Frey is summoned to help, which turns out to be difficult as he is still dealing with the loss of his uncle, and has developed a form of post-traumatic stress (not yet identified in the 19th century).
This seems an impossible puzzle. Either something truly supernatural has occurred - or a fiendishly clever plot is covering a killer's tracks...
A mysterious woman pleads for the help of Inspectors Frey and Nine-Nails. Her son, illegitimate scion of
the Koloman family, has received an anonymous death threat - right after learning he is to inherit the
best part of a vast wine-producing estate.
In exchange for their protection, she offers McGray the ultimate cure for his sister who has been locked in an insane asylum after brutally murdering their parents: the miraculous waters that spring in a small island in the remote Loch Maree.
The island has been a sacred burial ground since the time of the druids, but the legends around it will turn out to be much darker than McGray could have expected. Death and increasingly bizarre happenings will intermingle throughout this trip to the Highlands, before Frey and McGray learn a terrible truth.
The Scottish Play is coming home.
But before the darling couple of London theatre, Henry Irving & Ellen Terry, take their acclaimed Macbeth to the Edinburgh stage terror treads the boards.
A grisly message found smeared across the cobbles in blood, foretelling someone's demise.
As the bloody prophecies continue to appear Edinburgh's own beloved pair - Detective 'Nine-Nails' McGray & Inspector Ian Frey - enter the scene. Frey scoffs at this blatant publicity stunt, while McGray is convinced of supernatural affairs.
As they scrutinise the key players, they discover that Terry, Irving, and his peculiar, preoccupied assistant (one Bram Stoker) all have reasons to kill, or be killed...
But one thing is clear. By occult curse or human hand, death will take bow the night the curtain rises.
New Year's Day, 1889. In Edinburgh's lunatic asylum, a patient escapes as a nurse lays dying. Leading
the manhunt are legendary local Detective 'Nine-Nails' McGray and Londoner-in-exile Inspector Ian Frey.
Before the murder, the suspect was heard in whispered conversation with a fellow patient - a girl who had been mute for years.
What made her suddenly break her silence? And why won't she talk again? Could the rumours about black magic be more than superstition?
McGray and Frey track a devious psychopath far beyond their jurisdiction, through the worst blizzard in living memory, into the shadow of Pendle Hill - home of the Lancashire witches - where unimaginable danger awaits...
The First Case for Frey & McGray.
Edinburgh, 1888. A violinist is murdered in his home. The dead virtuoso's maid swears she heard three musicians playing in the night. But with only one body in the locked practice room - and no way in or out - the case makes no sense.
Fearing a national panic over another Ripper, Scotland Yard sends Inspector Ian Frey to investigate under the cover of a fake department specializing in the occult. However, Frey's new boss, Detective 'Nine-Nails' McGray, actually believes in such supernatural nonsense. McGray's tragic past has driven him to superstition, but even Frey must admit that this case seems beyond reason. And once someone loses all reason, who knows what they will lose next...
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