Wednesday, December 5, 2012

Dancing with Death: Review

Dancing with Death by Joan Coggin is the last of her four 1940s British mysteries starring Lady Lupin.  Lady Lupin ("Loops" to her friends) is asked to come to the aid of her friend Dorothy "Dud' Lethbridge.  Duds and her husband Tommy had decided to host a good old-fashioned Christmas houseparty for their friends and relatives--in the hopes that they could bring some good cheer to those suffering from post-World War II ration books and shortages.  But they find they're going to need way more holiday spirit than St. Nick may have in his bag.  Twin sisters, who Duds remembers fondly as beautiful girls devoted to one another, are barely speaking. Their cousin is behaving like a cross between Scrooge and the Grinch with a hefty dose of the town drunk thrown in for good measure.  (It certainly doesn't look like the meager alcohol supply will last through the New Year).  And then there's Dorothy's old flame, complete with a bore of a wife who speaks non-stop about anything, everything....and nothing.  

It shouldn't be a surprise that nerves are a bit frayed and that some folks might be wishing other folks dead.  But there is surprise that one of the twins chooses to commit suicide in the wee hours of the New Year.  Duds summons Lady Lupin to come offer moral support, but Loops offers more than that.  She comes to believe that the girl was murdered.  It all leads to a mad-dash chase along English country roads to stop the murderer from leaving the country.  Will Loops, Duds and Tommy be in time?

This is a very nice little trip back to the post-War era.  Even though the characters are faced with ration books and shortages, it is a trip to a less complicated era.  There are still things that "aren't done" and everyone dresses for dinner.  The mystery isn't complicated--and uses a trope that may seem old hat to the 21st century reader--but it is great fun, nonetheless.  Loops, like her name would suggest, is one of those scatterbrained women who seems to have a knack for getting at the truth--albeit by some very circuitous routes.  Like the Dowager Duchess in Dorothy L. Sayers's Wimsey books, I love trying to follow her thought processes.   Three and a half stars (rounded to four on GoodReads).


Peggy Ann said...

Bev, I've been wanting to read these books and they are in my amazon wish list. I'm glad to see a review and glad you liked them! One book to go and I'll be done with my mystery challenge!

Bev Hankins said...

Peggy Ann: They are good. I've only read two of them so far.

Yay for one more book to go!

Ryan said...

I will have to remember this one for next Christmas. I just need to get my hands on a copy now. Thanks for the review.

J.G. said...

I can't help but think wow, what a bunch of thoroughly unpleasant guests! You make this sound like great fun, even so.

(Back from my blogging hiatus now -will be in touch soon about your BYRC prize book!)