Mad about the Boy?
Soho, Jul 2008, $24.95
In 1923, mystery writer Jack Haldean attends the Silver Wedding Anniversary gala of his Aunt Alice and Uncle Philip at their country manor Hesperus. However the fete is dampened by the apparent suicide of Jack's friend Tim Preston. In financial trouble Tim served as secretary to detestable haughty Lord Lyvenden; a nouveau riche who paid for his peerage and a proper wife from his humongous munitions manufacturing profits although business has slowed since the war ended.
Although everyone else assumes suicide, Jack has doubts that quickly become validated when Lyvenden is found dead with Jack's friend Arthur Stanton standing by the corpse. Jack investigates, but Stanton is gone. Meanwhile Jack’s cousin Isabelle, engaged to wealthy banker Malcolm Smith-Fennimore, insists her beloved Stanton is innocent; and Lyvenden's wife Lady Harriet relishes her new status of wealthy widow. Throw in some angry Russians seeking stolen Czarist gold and Jack knows Superintendent Ashley has a difficult murder investigation to conduct.
Jack’s back (see A FETE WORSE THAN DEATH) in this entertaining historical mystery. The story line is fun to follow as the manor murder mystery is a combination investigative tale and a deep somewhat comedic (the humor feels flat and out of place) look at the post WWI fall of the aristocracy still cling to their estates even if they cannot afford them. The hero is terrific as he makes inquiries as if he is writing a novel, but alienates everyone. Readers will enjoy this fine period piece reminiscent of Carola Dunn’s Daisy Dalrymple mysteries.