Thursday, August 4, 2011
The Affair of the 39 Cuff Links: Review
The Affair of the 39 Cufflinks is the third in a series of country house mystery send-ups by James Anderson. Real Golden Age mystery fare with a humorous twist. Lord Burford has misgivings about his wife's planned house party. That's perfectly understandable. After all, during the last two country house gatherings there had been "unfortunate incidents"--that is to say, murders. Lavinia assures her husband that this time it's different. This time the people are family. But, of course, this time things begin to go wrong when one of the guests claims she has knowledge that would fling mud on the others' reputations. Then, surprise, she's found murdered....
Although not quite as witty as the first two in this series, Cufflinks is still a marvelous and funny working of the classic British crime novel. You have the family gathering around the lawyer for the reading of the will. You have the deceased reaching from the grave to tweak the noses of the eager-beaver beneficiaries. You have the scorned relative uttering dire threats. You have motives lurking in every corner. But there is also a whole lot of mysterious nonsense...39 cufflinks strewn everywhere around the bed where the murdered woman lay, a poltergeist throwing bits of a suit of armor around the gallery, shadowy prowlers stealing....toothpaste. Toothpaste? And there to get to the bottom of it all is Detective Chief Inspector Wilkins. Wilkins who knew the secret of the blood-stained egg cosy and the mutilated mink coat. Now he must decipher the meaning of the multitude of cufflinks.
Lots of fun. Plenty of delicious dialogue. And a twisty little plot. A nice quick read for when you need entertainment more than deep, dark secrets. Three stars. And a big Thank You to Yvette at In So Many Words for sending me this lovely copy!
And I just have to share this exchange between Lady Geraldine (Lord Burford's daughter) and their butler, Merryweather:
"Well done, Merry!" she said when he'd finished. "You're obviously a natural detective. I can see I'm going to have to get you to help me on this case. After all, Bunter, Lord Peter Wimsey's man, often assists him in his investigations."
"I am slightly acquainted with Mr. Bunter, my lady; an admirable man, but I fear I do not share either his ability at or enthusiasm for ratiocination and criminology."
"Where's your spirit of adventure?"
"I have none, your ladyship."