By Laraine Stephens
Death is just a close shave away.
It is February 1918. Somewhere in the bayside suburbs of Melbourne, the Death Mask Murderer is lurking, engaged in a ritualistic killing spree: shaving the heads of young women, strangling them and creating a gruesome memento of each in the form of a death mask.
As a wild storm batters Brighton, Emma Hart, an aspiring artist, and Max Rushforth, a shell-shocked ex-soldier, take refuge in the cellar of a derelict mansion, the killer's lair and home to his sinister collection of plaster casts. With Max under the spotlight of the police investigation, Emma calls on the expertise of crime reporter, Reggie da Costa, and Dr Silas Bacon, an expert in death masks, to prove his innocence, unaware that she, too, is in the killer's sights.
Set in the dying days of the Great War, 'The Death Mask Murders' examines the treatment of soldiers suffering from 'shell shock' and grapples with the age-old question: Can a person be born evil?
The Death Mask Murders is the first book in The Reggie da Costa Mysteries.
Laraine Stephens lives in Melbourne, Australia. She worked as a teacher-librarian for many years before turning her hand to writing historical crime fiction.