Minotaur, Feb 16 2010, $24.99
In 1909, Grace Thurley ends her engagement; leaving Birmingham for London where she has accepted a position as secretary to recently widowed Edwina Martagon and companion to her daughter Dulcie. As she settles into the Martagon household, Edwina’s son Guy comes home to settle the estate of his late father, an art gallery owner who committed suicide.
When an artist, whose works were on display at Martagon’s gallery, also kills himslef, Scotland Yard revisits the previous case as Chief Inspector Philip Lamb and his assistant Detective Sergeant Cogan find two similar suicides too coincidental and besides no motives existed for either man; one was at the top of his game and the other a rising star. At the same time someone is blackmailing Grace due to love letters her spouse sent to his paramour and that rumors are he sired a child in Vienna two decades earlier. Vienna is where a Mrs. Isobel Amberley seems to be the eye of the hurricane who apparently led to the deaths of the late gallery owner and the deceased artist.
Marjorie Eccles provides her fans with an entertaining Edwardian Era police procedural. The flashbacks of what occurred in Vienna twenty years earlier enable the audience to know why the two men died long before the cops figure out what is going on. The background is terrific as the reader can compare two leading European cities just before and after the turn of the previous century. Although the look back to Vienna is fascinating, but also slows down the present day (1909 that is) mystery. Still this is a fine investigative tale in which Superintendent Gil Mayo would be proud of the efforts of his DS predecessor.