Sunday, July 15, 2012
Crime Fiction Alphabet: Letter I
I have signed up for a second year of The Alphabet in Crime Fiction, a community meme sponsored by Mysteries in Paradise. Each week she'll be expecting participants to produce a post featuring a mystery/crime novel or novelist related to that week's letter.
Chug, chug, chug, can you hear the wheels of the train as we continue our journey through the Crime Fiction Alphabet. Next stop--the letter I. If you are not already familiar with Elizabeth Ironside, then let me introduce you. Ironside is the pen name of Lady Catherine Manning, wife of Britain's Ambassador to the U.S. (2003-2007). She was awarded the John Creasey Award for Best First Mystery of 1985 for her debut novel, A Very Private Enterprise, and her fifth and last (till now) novel Death in the Garden was nominated for Britain's CWA Gold Dagger for Best Mystery of 1995. In 2004, she told an interviewer with The Telegraph that, although she had begun work on a sixth novel, "I have given up on crime for now." Her busy schedule was interfering with her writing. That is a shame because I have thoroughly enjoyed both of the mysteries I have read by Ironside so far. On the positive side, I have three more left--and perhaps she will take up the detective mantle again by the time I finish those.
Judging by the two books by Elizabeth Ironside that I have read so far, she is a very versatile author. The first one I read (last year), Death in the Garden, is a country house murder with a bit of twist. The murder itself takes place in the 1920s, but the story is framed by the efforts of a great-niece to discover exactly what took place at her aunt's house during those turbulent years. The second novel, A Good Death, is less straight-forward and set during the time of the French Resistance under Nazi rule. It is also a bit darker than Garden and more emotionally charged. In both stories one of the most striking features is the sense of place and time that Ironside evokes. And a major theme in Ironside's books seems to be betrayal--what constitutes betrayal and who is betraying whom?