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M.J. Carter Books In Order

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Publication Order of Avery & Blake Books

The Strangler Vine (2014)Description / Buy at Amazon
The Infidel Stain / The Printer's Coffin (2015)Description / Buy at Amazon
The Devil's Feast (2016)Description / Buy at Amazon

Publication Order of Non-Fiction Books

Anthony Blunt (2001)Description / Buy at Amazon
The Three Emperors (2009)Description / Buy at Amazon

M J Carter is a historical Mystery author who was a journalist and publisher before she wrote her first book, Anthony Blunt. The novel was awarded the Orwell Prize and the Royal Society of Literature and WH Heinemann. It was also listed among the New York Times’ best books in 2002.

The Three Emperors novel was shortlisted for the LA Times Biography prize and Hesse-Tiltman History Prize.

The Strangler Vine
The Strangler Vine is the first in the Avery and Blake series. As the novel opens up, Xavier Mountstuart, East India company’s most celebrated son, has gone missing. William Avery, a young officer, brave naïve, and easy to lose his assets through gambling. He is also in love with a lady who’s far out of his league. Mountstuart is a prominent European writer at that time. William Avery, an officer at the company, is always drinking hard, getting into more debt, gambling, and bored as he waits for the military to take action.

One day he is sent to deliver a letter to Jeremiah Blake, who is said to have ‘gone native.’ He isn’t impressed by the company’s summons to which Avery has always been loyal. Even though Avery doesn’t like his current state and is disappointed by India, he is attracted to the romantic writings of Xavier. He loves and respects the author who has gone missing after writing a novel that shocked the Calcutta society.

They have to investigate the murderers and kali worshippers named the Thuggee. They were notoriously known in India, and the British had used a lot of effort and manpower to exterminate them. Avery isn’t aware that he will be going on the mission with Blake. He’s unwilling to go with a total stranger to him, and he can’t understand why it was planned that way. Avery is partially threated and promoted, and this makes him so uncomfortable.

As Blake ignores him, Mr. Aziz, an intelligent and kind man, helps him as natives, Nungoo and Sameer mock him. Avery doesn’t lose focus and holds on to his uniform and the company’s virtues.

Avery’s rank in terms of work and little experience do not fully qualify him for such a vital mission. On the other hand, Blake is a master of secret missions and challenging combat. He can speak several native languages, and the company views him as hostile.

Avery doesn’t enjoy Blake’s company, but he has to assist and spy on him. However, they have to put their differences aside and search with lots of unanswered questions. They pass through roads haunted by bandits and used by ash-smeared monks during the mission. They also cross through poverty-stricken villages and colorful bazaars through jungle terrain soaked in rains, then to the court of an Indian Prince.

The politics in the court are as treacherous as the ones in the headquarters of the company officers putting them up. The man is in control of eradicating the murderous cult of Thuggee. A recent scholarship has put the history of Thuggee into doubt, and now questions have arisen as to whether they existed. If they did, were they as dangerous as the way people said?

Who is Jeremiah Blake, and can he be trusted on the mission? What really captivated Mountstuart about the Thugs, the murderous group of Kali-worshippers who kill innocent travelers? Why is the company full of secrets?

As long as Avery works at India’s company, he will have to fight for his life because of the truth he wishes he had never discovered. The novel narrates India in an interesting period spanning time between the beginning of the Raj and the rule of the East India Company.

It’s time when people like Blake, who were happy to call India their home and intermarry, were scowled upon. Young unmarried English girls are sent to India for marriage, and when Blake losses respect for his company, Avery has his illusions shut down before the adventures are over.

Blake will have to tackle the controversy of the Thuggee as they go deep into the territory in looking for the writer who was researching about them before he went missing.

Strangler Vine is a great descriptive story about India with bloody violence and much commentary on the appalling attitudes toward the people of India. It’s a fascinating gripping murder mystery filled with conspiracy, friendship, loyalty, human degradation, and violence.

The Infidel Stain
The Infidel Stain is the second in Blake and Avery series. The story takes place three years later, after the events in India that left Avery and Blake entangled in search of poet Mountstuart. It’s set in Victorian London with a more detailed and evocative storyline. It takes us to the early 1840s in the orbit of publishers, dissidents, murder and rebels. An artist named Benjamin Haydon with a painting titled ‘The Death of Mountstuart displayed in London as a martyr of the poet.

The novel’s heroes are back in England, and Avery lives in Devon with his wife while Blake lives in London. Blake summons Avery to pay him a visit to his home. Although he can’t admit it Aver is so happy that he’ll be visiting London. However, he isn’t impressed with how he finds Blake in a suspicious environment and his health deteriorating.

Blake informs him that two men were contacted by Viscount Allington and were refered to him by the former head of the East India Company secret department, Theophilus Collinson. Two printers were brutally killed in London and Allington; a famous philanthropist is confident that the police didn’t conduct it. He has requested Blake to get into the matter and solve the mysterious crimes.

The investigations lead men deep into the alleyways of London. M J Carter paints an evocative portrait of Victorian London. Henry Mayhew and Charles Dickens run through the streets and the chartists movement calling out for reformation, slum living, and excess poverty.

Mayhew was the founder of ‘Punch,’ and after the deaths of the two printers, the author takes the readers to the publishing world to learn how the printed word was important when it came to social reform. The dead printers were the ones who produced the most reading materials for the people of London.

Book Series In Order » Authors » M.J. Carter

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