It's 1814 and the streets of London's Covent Garden are at the centre of a dark trade, enticing rich and poor alike with a cocktail of gin and beer and sex. Behind their own fashionable private doors in the surrounding parishes a group of aristocratic young men are found murdered, all of them wearing the mask of a satyr, all of them behind locked doors with signs of entry. Constable Charles Horton's investigation into these violent crimes begins, quite by chance, at Thorpe Lee House in Surrey, where accusations of witchcraft have swept the village. What connects these broken London men, savage with the pursuit of pleasure, and a country village awash with folklore and talk of burning witches? The answers lie, yet again, under lock and key, in a madhouse for the deranged, where Horton's wife Abigail seeks refuge from her disordered mind. In this world of witchcraft and madhouses, whores and aristocrats, it's a savage magic indeed that holds its victims in its thrall. Lloyd Shepherd's most ambitious vel to date is a triumph of the imagination. His rich cast of characters weaves a hugely satisfying story of depth, insight and exquisite drama.
Lloyd Shepherd is a former journalist and digital producer who has worked for the Guardian, Channel 4, the BBC and Yahoo. He lives in South London with his family. He is the author of The English Monster and The Poisoned Island.