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Masking the Truth


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An exciting, quick-moving mystery set in 19th century England that upends many preconceived ideas.

Masking the Truth: A Scarlet and Green Thriller

By Max Parker

Mix in opium, deadly work conditions, a corrupt company, an emerging police force in London, and one woman who does not even consider the roles existing for her in the 19th century, and you have a recipe for excitement. In Max Parker’s Masking the Truth, that recipe creates a delicious blend of mystery and adventure.

The story revolves around Scarlett Pembridge, a member of the independent policing agency, the Bow Street Runners, and Andrew Green, a veteran in the legal opium trade who works for the East India Company. Pembridge has a reputation for bringing in a lot of criminals, usually dead, and Green has returned from several years in China to serve as a consultant with the emerging Scotland Yard.

They find their paths crossing as they seek out the Matchstick Mangler, a vicious killer who tortures victims and leaves their eyes pried open with matchsticks. The question is if this ties in with a mysterious illness some workers at the matchstick factory suffer from, or with opium disappearing into a London that is struggling with an increase in the damage that opium brings to its users.

Although Green works with the police, he is actually employed by the East India Company, a once reputable force in England but one that Green is starting to question. When he realizes that Scarlett’s father, who runs the Bow Street Runners, used to be an East India agent, the questions only get deeper. 

When Scarlett and Green cross paths, it rarely goes well. While not opposed to violence, Green prefers a more subtle approach than Scarlett, who often ends up in a fight. Most of her opponents usually underestimate her because of her gender, but her tall height and training from her father give her an advantage.  Still, both Green and Scarlett have their blindspots and they are not superheroes, making them realistic and approachable protagonists.

As Green’s work with police and the opium trade crosses paths with Scarlett’s search for the Matchstick Mangler, they find the need to work together. No good reviewer ever reveals the ending of a mystery, so suffice it to say that Parker leads us to a surprising and exciting end of the story.

Fans of fast-moving mysteries with a dose of fighting and dying will enjoy this novel. Parker has created two strong characters whom we hope to see in future adventures.  

Reviewed by

I'm a long-time reader and reviewer who has no pretension about being an author someday. My undergraduate work was in Philosophy, Religion, and English. My Master's degree is in Professional Writing (English). I've taught first-year English with college students and write three different blogs.


About the author

Max Parker is a writer based in Sydney, Australia. He is the author of historical crime thrillers such as the Green & Scarlett series. If you enjoy Max's work, make sure you head to his author page and sign up to the newsletter. view profile

Published on January 22, 2021

Published by Green and Scarlett Publishing

60000 words

Contains mild explicit content ⚠️

Worked with a Reedsy professional 🏆

Genre: Historical Fiction

Reviewed by