Tag: British mystery

A Past that Poisons the Present


Father Gabriel was once married and a scholar. He became a priest only after the death of his wife, whom he met while at England’s university town of Cambridge.

“Death of a Scholar: A Father Gabriel Mystery,” by Fiorella De Maria, the fourth mystery in the Father Gabriel series, returns Father Gabriel to Cambridge. The series is set in post-World War II England. Father Gabriel is visiting an old friend, Arthur Kingsley.  A secondary goal is to face the ghosts of his past, in the form of his late wife’s family.

Gabriel and Kingsley became friends when they attended Cambridge together following World War I. After a few years in the chemical industry on the Continent between the two World Wars, Kingsley returned to Cambridge, where he is now a senior fellow at the fictional St. Stephen’s College. It is the first time the two have been together in many years.

Another Fine Mess for Georgie


Lady Victoria Georgiana Charlotte Eugenie O’Mara (nee Rannoch) was born thirty-fourth in line for the British throne. A descendent of Queen Victoria, Georgie (as her friends call her) abandoned her place in the succession to marry the love of her life, Catholic Darcy O’Mara. Her family connection led Queen Mary to use Georgie for sensitive investigations. Her husband has shadowy connections with British intelligence. Both lead Georgie into a series of adventures in 1920s and 1930s Europe.

“Peril In Paris,” by Rhys Bowen, is the sixteenth novel in “The Royal Spyness” series, in which Georgie, a member of the impoverished Rannoch family, holds center stage. She is plucky, intrepid, and naïve.  (Her most vehement epithet is “golly.”) She begins the novel pregnant with her first child and bored. Darcy proposes a trip to Paris, before travel becomes impossible.

Darcy has business in Paris. Darcy’s business in Paris is unknown, but is possibly dangerous. Belinda, Georgie’s schoolgirl chum, lives in Paris, working for Coco Chanel as courtier, designing dresses. Belinda has a standing invitation for Georgia to visit her. While Georgie accompanies Darcy to Paris and stays with him the first night, she spends the rest of the trip with Belinda, where it will presumably be safer.

Who Really Killed the Unpleasant Lord?


Kitty Worthington is back for her third adventure in solving crime. In her first, she prevented her brother from being convicted of murder. In the second, she saved her sister’s fiancé from a murder charge.  Now she had a new challenge.

“Murder at the Masked Ball,” by Magda Alexander, follows the same template as the first two books. It is the 1920s, and Kitty Worthington, the youngest child in her wealthy family, is trying to avoid her mother’s attempts at matchmaking.  But she stumbles into a murder, one of her friends and relations seems to be the guilty party, and it is up to Kitty and her crew to prove otherwise by finding the actual culprit.

In this case, the accused is her good friend Lord Newcastle. He has carried a torch for Lady Wakefield since before World War I. He even proposed marriage to her, only to be turned down by her family. (He was not then Lord Newcastle, only inheriting the title and fortune due to the death of other heirs during World War I.) Rather than allowing Lady Wakefield to marry a penniless love, they forced her to marry the wealthy Lord Wakefield. He turned out to be as cruel as he was wealthy, regularly beating his wife for failing to produce an heir.

A Return to the Golden Age British Mystery


It is 1923. Kitty Worthington, completing a year in a Swiss finishing school is, returning to England for her debut year as she turns 21. An unmarried young woman of the upper classes cannot travel alone, so she is accompanied by her very stuffy older brother Edward.

“Murder on the Golden Arrow,” by Magda Alexander opens with Kitty discovering Ned much less stuffy than Kitty believed. She learns he had a paramour. Worse, traveling on the Golden Arrow from Dover to London the woman is poisoned. While sitting across from Kitty and Ned.

A Scotland Yard Detective Inspector aboard the train, Robert Crawford, takes charge of the investigation. Since Ned gave the poisoned woman medicine immediately before dying Kitty fears Crawford suspects Ned. The dead woman was blackmailing Ned. Kitty knows Ned did not commit the crime, but he seems the obvious suspect.

A British Police Procedural Updated to the Present


The British police procedural is one of the most popular forms of detective fiction. The twentieth century brought Colin Dexter’s Inspector Morse and P. D. James’s Adam Dagliesh. There are many others, including some set in the nineteenth century.

“Queen of Swords,” by Robert Mills, brings the genre into the twenty-first century.

Senior nurse Jenny Butcher is found strangled in her London flat. Detective Inspector Sanjay Patel, a British-born Indian is the case’s first investigator. He is assigned as deputy to Chief Inspector Tracy Taylor, and an important part of the investigation.

Member Post


I write a weekly book review for the Daily News of Galveston County. (It is not the biggest daily newspaper in Texas, but it is the oldest.) After my review appears on Sunday, I post the previous week’s review here on Sunday. Book Review Murder, mayhem and dangerous secrets By MARK LARDAS Preview Open

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Quote of the Day: Josephine Tey on the Criminal Mind


For Robert, being old-fashioned, believed in retribution … he certainly agreed with Gilbert: the punishment should fit the crime. He certainly did not believe that a few quiet talks with the chaplain and a promise to reform made a criminal into a respect-worthy citizen.

“Your true criminal,” he remembered Kevin saying one night, after a long discussion on penal reform, “has two unvarying characteristics, and it is these two characteristics which make him a criminal. Monstrous vanity and colossal selfishness” … “Tomes have been written trying to define the criminal, but it is a very simple definition after all. The criminal is a person who makes the satisfaction of his own immediate personal wants the mainspring of his actions.”