Monday, April 9, 2012

Silver & Guilt: Review

Silver & Guilt is the second novel that I have read by Cynthia Smith. I read the debut of her Emma Rhodes series, Noblesse Oblige, a several years ago and thoroughly enjoyed it. So, when I found this one I just had to grab it up. Then I let it sit (like I sometimes do) on the TBR pile for a couple of years. It fits quite nicely into several of my challenges--including the Mount TBR--and now finally I can take it off my TBR list.

Emma Rhodes is not your usual private or amateur detective. In fact, she doesn't care for the title detective at all. She calls herself a Private Resolver--for the right price ($20,000) she will not just investigate delicate matters, but she will bring them to a satisfactory conclusion. And no one handles the delicate problems of society's elite with quite the same panache as this highly intelligent, sassy and perfectly dressed woman. She takes no money up front, simply promises results within two weeks or there will be no charge. So far, she's not come away from a case empty-handed.

In her fourth case, Emma has been called upon by a British Duchess who has accidentally sent a cherished silver candelabra off to Sotheby's as part of an annual auction. At first, it looks like this will be one of the simplest cases (and easiest $20,000) ever--for the high bidder on the candelabra is none other than Emma's dear friend Bootsie Corrigan. But Emma learns that not even friendship can tempt Bootsie to part with something she has set her heart upon.

Before Emma can get down to work and complete a plan of action that will make everyone happy, Bootsie dies at an intimate little dinner party--the victim of her peanut allergy. The police immediately fasten on Bootsie's nephew and heir, Jonathan, as the prime suspect. After all, a billion dollars is a lot of incentive to hurry someone off to the great beyond. Emma's instincts tell her that Jonathan has been framed and when another member of Bootsie's entourage falls victim it looks like she is right. But who would kill the benevolent and gregarious woman like Bootsie, who seemed to be beloved by everyone who knew her?

As a cozy mystery, this is a delight. Plenty of suspects, lots of motives, and enough twists to keep the reader guessing. Overall, the characters are fun and interesting and seem very real. Emma's life may seem a little too perfect--but she's so likeable, you want to believe that it's true. My biggest quibble is language. I don't remember this difficulty with the first novel (perhaps I've blotted it out)--but I don't expect a cozy to have the f-word (among others) sprinkled liberally throughout. I'm well aware of the word and, although it's not part of my standard vocabulary, I can understand literary merit for its use--in the right circumstances. Cozies would not qualify in my book (no pun intended). Three stars for a good mystery and characters that I really like (even if I do have the urge to wash their mouths out with soap).


J F Norris said...

She sounds like Daphne Wrayne and her team of Adjustors who also have asimialr no pay rule for no results. Like many of the contemporary writers I have never heard of Smith or her intriguing creation. I might have to investigate this series.

Bev Hankins said...

John: I really enjoyed Noblesse Oblige--her debut if I recall correctly--and jumped on this one at the Library Booksale a couple years ago. I like Emma a lot. And it's interesting--the current book I'm reading has language as well (although not quite so much--especially the f-bomb), but it seems to fit better.