Book Review

Hyde by Craig Russell

Edward Hyde has a strange gift – or a curse – he keeps secret from all but his physician. He experiences two realities, one real, the other a dreamworld state brought on by a neurological condition.

When murders in Victorian Edinburgh echo the ancient Celtic threefold death ritual, Captain Edward Hyde hunts for those responsible. In the process he becomes entangled in a web of Celticist occultism and dark scheming by powerful figures. The answers are there to be found, not just in the real world but in the sinister symbolism of Edward Hyde’s otherworld.

He must find the killer or lose his mind.

A dark tale. One that inspires Hyde’s friend… Robert Louis Stevenson.

I adored The Devil Aspect by Craig Russell and jumped at the chance to read Hyde when it became available on Netgalley.

It’s a brilliantly multi-layered novel that begins with the discovery of a man – initially unidentified – brutally murdered in a ritualistic fashion.  It goes on to incorporate a missing heiress, a murdered doctor, an occultist, and ideas of Scottish nationalism.  It sounds complex – and it is – but not so much as to feel overwhelming.  The individual investigations progress nicely, with small clues discovered that lead to unexpected connections between the seemingly disparate cases while also sifting out the red herrings that seem, initially, to bear more relevance.  I enjoyed it from the very first page and was gripped throughout. 

Captain Edward Henry Hyde is a fantastic character, and one who plays with the reader’s sympathies throughout.  Superintendent of detective officers in Edinburgh City’s police, he is a good man – he wishes to do his job, and to do it well, seeking justice and not just a result for the crimes he investigates.  Hyde is haunted by a secret, however – one that he has so far managed to keep from his superiors and acquaintances.  Hyde has periods of “lost time” – episodes that he has no recollection of afterwards, and no idea of where he goes or what he does.  Seeking treatment from a neuropsychiatrist, it is diagnosed as epilepsy, and yet the doctor seems reluctant to share details when pushed.  With crimes being committed by a violent and as yet unidentified individual, both Hyde and the reader begin to wonder about those episodes… It’s a fantastic set up, and one that had me questioning Hyde’s character throughout.  I didn’t want it to be him, but I couldn’t help but wonder as I read on.

I liked the framing of the novel, which shows a meeting between two friends, one of whom is no less than Robert Louis Stevenson who wants to write a tale about the duality of human nature but is lacking a little inspiration when it comes to getting the words on the page.  This prompts his companion to tell Hyde’s story.  It is impossible – for me at least – not to consider that other fictional Hyde while reading this, but Russell has taken that idea and made it wholly his own in this novel, Stevenson’s tale providing inspiration for his own. 

Rich in detail of time and place, Russell successfully brings Victorian Edinburgh to life.  He uses mythology and folklore to enhance the narrative, which is wonderfully dark and has a Gothic feel.  It’s an excellent work of detective fiction, but one that successfully toys with the boundaries, straying into horror at times through the exploration of dreamscapes and some of the darker elements of Celtic mythology.  Overall, it’s a fantastic read that is perfect for these dark winter nights.  Just make sure you’re locked away safely indoors first.

Hyde will be published on 4 February 2021 by Constable, an imprint of Little, Brown Book Group.  Many thanks to the publisher for the opportunity to read and review Hyde prior to publication via Netgalley.


Comments are closed.

%d bloggers like this: