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Necropolis

Novel by Basil Copper (England) 1977.

Clyde Beatty is a private detective in the London of Sherlock Holmes, secured to investigate the suspicious death of Tredegar Meredith, a wealthy banker, by his daughter, Angela. Beatty soon discovers that Meredith was indeed murdered, and by his doctor, a reprehensive character who runs a nursing home. But rather than the end, this marks only the beginning of the case, as Beatty uncovers strange goings on at Brookwood Cemetery, near Woking in Surrey, the largest cemetery in the world; and also in London, where a number of private banks have been suffering huge robberies of gold.

Basil Copper has a number of books under his belt, including over fifty Mike Faraday detective novels and two non-fiction works, The Vampire: in Legend, Fact and Art (1973), and The Werewolf: in Legend, Fact and Art (1977). But it is his horror work that concerns us here, and Necropolis secures his mastery of the gothic genre. Painting on a much wider canvas than his previous genre book, The Curse of the Fleers, and for twice the length, there is far more room for background detail, character development and indeed a larger cast of players, all of which Copper delivers. His settings are perfect for the gothic novel and incredibly they are real as well: The London Necropolis and National Mausoleum Company still exists; as does Brookwood Cemetery, once the largest in the world with 450 of its 2,600 acres designated for burial; and the Ghost Train, carrying coffins and mourners daily from Waterloo, continued its operations until 1939. Basil Copper is an author unjustly neglected, as his writing is consistently good and often superb. With Necropolis he is at the height of his considerable powers. Ghoulish and atmospheric.


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