A brilliant mystery – how does a man with amnesia unmask a national conspiracy?
I fell in love with Albert Campion on the TV series, but years ago I really disliked The Affair at Black Dudley (the first Campion). I don’t know if it was just bad book timing, but after reading Traitor’s Purse I feel I have been missing out!
This is one of her finest books according to many and I can see why. The book plunges straight into the plot – a man wakes up in a hospital, overhears that he’s killed a policeman and will hang for it. He makes a dash for it, physically and emotionally weak, all the while desperate to remember what conspiracy he was about to unmask. His only clue is the number 15.
And if that plot weren’t enough, the writing is beautiful. Campion struggles to fake his way through situations, wondering if each person he meets is the shadowy villain. We see his newly discovered love for a woman he’s already lost and his haunting terror that he will not be in time to prevent a national tragedy.
Swinging wildly between a creature of primitive emotions and an uppercrust man of intelligence and manners, we can’t help but wonder which is the real Campion? Will the two halves of his fractured mind meet in time to save England?
I was fortunate enough to get a version by The Folio Society, a London publisher who republishes old classics in utterly gorgeous bindings and with stunning illustrations. Anyone who loves books should own at least one folio edition.
Amazing classic British mystery, elegant and well-written, engrossing characters.
I opened this book yesterday afternoon intending to read a chapter but it was well past my bedtime when I put it down. The first sentence was a tad long but by the second paragraph I was hooked – the protagonist Evelyn has just run into Dorothy, a woman he hasn’t seen for sixteen years. Their last meeting was when she refused his marriage proposal.
But this is not a romantic story. It is a deeply intriguing look into the dark corners of a not fully formed human mind. What is driving Dorothy’s estranged son Crispin to get kicked out of every school and refuse every tutor? Is it something to do with the death of his father on a dig in Greece?
How Evelyn tries to win Crispin’s trust and figure that puzzle out both emotionally and logically makes for fascinating reading. But even more fascinating is how Ellis Peters captured the juxtaposition of little kid and remorseless adult in Crispin, who is spiraling ever closer to a very deadly climax…
30-day e-book loan courtesy of NetGalley.
A feisty sleuth digs into a wartime disappearance for a woman she hated.
This is my 4th Posie Parker (a feisty private detective in the 1920’s). L.B. Hathaway has very readable books that are easy to get through in a few hours.
Posie is a consistently developed character. The premise is fantastic – this one about a doctor presumed dead in the war who is later spotted in Oxford. Having the person who hires Posie turn out to be someone she hated and who also hated her was an excellent twist.
I enjoyed the puzzle and the clues, although I was very surprised to hear for the first time that Posie has a brother who was never mentioned in the previous 3 books. The plot line of the missing doctor happened to help her connect with her dead brother.
The romantic angle is promising, I don’t know how it continues to grow despite the fact that we almost never see Posie and Alaric together. In the brief glimpses he maintains his allure – gorgeous, good-hearted and always somewhere else.
I was surprised by the addition of a real ghost but it fit into the motif of the book (ghosts of the war).
I greatly admire L.B. Hathaway and look forward to the next book!
The previous books are Murder Offstage, The Tomb of the Honeybee and Murder at Maypole Manor.
A cozy crime mingles with espionage in a classic isolated mansion.
I’ve been following Posie Parker (a feisty private detective in the 1920’s) along her adventures with pleasure, in Murder Offstage and The Tomb of the Honey Bee.
Posie continues to be a consistent, well-vocalized character who pines for her adventurous lover. But luckily for us that doesn’t stop her also looking for bad guys and generally being feisty.
This was one of my favourite settings, the classic mansion in a snow storm with exotic characters and at least one person who is lying in a way that cannot be verified while they’re cut off from everything. The characters were distinct enough to follow – film stars, artists, peers, agents and even a clairvoyant.
I enjoyed the puzzle and the various clues – there are a lot of elements for you to solve and consider in this book!
The storyline with Posie’s insane, obsessive and immensely rich criminal stalker was the least intriguing piece for me. As an arch-nemesis he provides a foil for Posie, but I’m not a huge fan of the one that wants to marry her and finds her so irresistible that he won’t let go.
This continues to be a very enjoyable series!
A feisty 1920s sleuth solving a crime through glamourous London, Sicily and Egypt.
Posie is a feisty private detective in 1920’s London. She plunges dangerously into situations without always thinking it through and they often go awry, but she makes it up in pluck.
In book #2, Posie is in the throws of heartache and finds herself helping a ravishing and broke peer, Violet, whose explorer brother has gone missing. And she’s being paid in extraordinarily expensive honey. Potential suspects include the other brother, a drinking wastrel of money, his wealthy and jealous wife, a highly suspicious valet and a unrequited-love-crazy mystery writer.
A great setup and the book’s highlight is Posie’s international jetsetting to interesting places. The killer here is a different kind of crazy ruthless and manages to do a fair amount of destruction for a comparative amateur.
An enjoyable series and I’m distinctly interested in the next books!
An old-fashioned and twisty British crime classic.
This is the first mystery novel (and second novel) for a brilliant mystery writer. It is surprisingly well put together for such an early effort. It doesn’t feature her charming Albert Campion, but instead an avuncular older detective W.T. and his Watson-like son Jerry. The story is more old-fashioned than her others, it reminds me rather of Agatha Christie’s shorter stories but it is novella length.
W.T. is called in on a case of murder – a neighbor has wandered into another man’s house and been shot. From the start it becomes clear that everyone absolutely hates the man and has a motive. The man is even crueler than the average unlikable victim, and a kind of blackmailer who enjoys torturing his victims rather than making money from it.
The suspects are all unique. In the house we find the brimstone and fervour of the servant Estah, the nervous and charming Mrs. Christensen with her little daughter, her feisty sister, and the handicapped war hero husband Mr. Christensen. In the dead man’s household we have the grimy, worm-like Lacy and the mysteriously vanished Mr. Cellini. All have excellent motives and in some cases quite good alibis.
Moving between England and France, the novel does a good job setting the scene without a lot of details. W.T. is very kindly and intelligent, he presses for the truth. His son Jerry is much more the muscle-bound Watson or Hastings, an invaluable help to W.T. but a victim of his own emotions. (Ah, always Hastings you fall for the auburn haired girls!)
The plot is a simple one but continues to open up confusing little twists and sends you scurrying from one suspect to another along with W.T. I did not predict the ending but like any classic Golden Age novel, it provides an ah-ha moment.
30-day e-book loan courtesy of NetGalley.
An enjoyable and fun debut featuring a 1920s sleuth and a cursed jewel.
Posie is a feisty private detective in 1920’s London with a gorgeous male assistant who thankfully doesn’t do all the dirty work. She plunges dangerously into situations without always thinking it through and they often go awry, but she makes it up in pluck.
The characters all stand out, which is a feat when juggling so many. The friend and ditzy young heir who is accused of murder (think Freddie Threepwood from Wodehouse’s ‘Leave it to Psmith’) has in fact fallen prey to a stunning femme fatale (think ‘Maltese Falcon’). Inspector Lovelace is the smart, helpful one and Inspector Oates is the grumpy, don’t-tell-me-how-to-do-things one, recognizable from many a Marple. The mastermind behind it all comes across as very Moriarty.
The setting is reasonably developed, picturesque without being over the top and immerses you in London. Every once in a while it lacks detail that would plant me more firmly in the era but overall it did the job well.
There were plenty of twists and turns as to how Posie would navigate her way through, although seasoned readers may be able to guess some pieces earlier.