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*AWARD WINNING* The Diabolus Legacy

For Cormag Macleod, the dead haunt the shadows.

And his refuge is the bottle. But in Sydney Cove in 1875, there is enough filth and crime to distract him, and his unorthodox police methods are effective in a town where the law is a thin murky line.

That’s why being sent to a small town in the middle of nowhere to investigate a murder feels like punishment. And to make matters worse, being nursemaid to a constable barely old enough to shave is the last straw. But in the Allyn River valley, he will discover that the gruesome murders taking place are the work of something sinister and familiar.

As the townsfolk begin to panic, and the local lawmakers seek to blame, old prejudices will surface and threaten to destroy the delicate fabric of the small hamlet. And Macleod will discover that he can never truly put his past behind him, no matter how far he runs.


Distinguished Favorite 2022


Kirkus Independent Reviews 

A somber, readable tale of frontier psychodrama.

Falconer’s whodunit, set in 19th-century Sydney Cove, New South Wales, stars a haunted, hard-drinking investigator.

It’s 1875, and Inspector Cormag Macleod is a gruff, older, haunted man who can handle himself in a back-alley brawl. Macleod spends much of the book hung over and likes brooding over his pipe. He’s a bit rancorous as the novel opens. Not only must he trek out to Allynbrook to investigate a murder, but he’s saddled with Constable McDermott, a helper/watcher who’s barely 20. At Allynbrook, this odd couple finds a clue—a leather disc with a distinctive brand that leads them even further into the hinterland, to small subsistence farms. As Macleod and McDermott make their way to a distant property called Ravenscroft (“a lovely place, sitting high atop the hill with the river winding around it”), they encounter an entire cast of hardscrabble farmers raising pigs and growing tobacco and wheat, living day to day. Most of them harbor secrets of some kind. The pair encounters ferocious storms, murders, and a crazed kind of butchery that seems to verge well beyond the human realm in its depravity; it all leads to a vivid, brutal climax. Falconer draws this provincial world well, although the book’s most memorable creation is Macleod himself, a hard man with a soft heart and a jaded worldview (“Most of the evil in this world is in men,” he tells McDermott, in answer to a question about whether or not he believes in ghosts, “we don’t need spirits for evil to be close to us”). The prose is often distractingly purple (“He saw colleagues and friends, those who where succumbing to their injuries slowly, as the tide of blood ebbed from them, their lives slipping away,” and so on), but the dark atmosphere carries the reader along.

A somber, readable tale of frontier psychodrama.


Booktrib Review

Saul Kenneth Falconer On How He Crafted A Thriller With His Favorite Character at the Core

“A somber, readable tale of frontier psychodrama. Falconer draws this provincial world well, although the book’s most memorable creation is Macleod himself, a hard man with a soft heart and a jaded worldview,” assesses Kirkus Independent Reviews. The Falconer in question is Mr. Saul Kenneth Falconer, author of the new thriller The Diabolus Legacy."



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