Monday, July 22, 2013

London Particular: Review

London Particular (aka Fog of Doubt) was reportedly Christianna Brand's favorite among her own novels.  It tells the story of Raoul Vernet and his unexpected visit to the Evans home in London.  He chooses the night of a real "pea-souper" of a fog--also known as a London particular--to visit his former paramour Matilda Evans and arrange a chance to talk to her alone.  The night ends most unexpectedly indeed...Raoul will be struck down by a "mastoid mallet" in the hallway of the Evans' house and Inspector Cockrill--Cockie--will have to work his way through seven suspects to find the killer.  The only thing is...every step forward seems to eliminate one more suspect until there are none left.

Rosie Evans, Matilda's sister-in-law, is at the center of the mystery.  Rosie has returned from finishing
school abroad unwed and pregnant.  She's tells a different story of how this came about to each of her family members and friends--from Matlida, to her dotty grandmother, to Melissa Weekes (secretary/girl of all work), to her sometime boyfriend Damien to her brother's partner Dr. Edward Robert Edwards ("Tedward").  Her objective is to find someone who will help her fund a visit to an abortionist to solve her problem--and she tells the tale she feels most likely to work on the sympathies of each person.  Unfortunately, for Rosie, they all think she should have the child. The only one kept completely in the dark is her brother, Dr. Evans.  

When Raoul is killed, it seems that someone thought he had appeared to spill the beans about Rosie OR that he wanted to blackmail Rosie or someone else about the situation OR that someone thought he was responsible for Rosie's condition.  But who is that someone?   And...since everyone seems to be covering up for someone in the world will Cockie and the other policemen be able to get to the bottom of it all?

This novel has some very neat plotting and  memorable characters.  The best of the bunch are the grandma who, to liven things up, regularly imagines herself the heroine of one of her lusty romance novels--"riding" across the desert (bedroom) and being forced leave her worldly goods behind (tossing them out the window) AND Matilda who carries on the most interesting conversations both with herself and others.  It also makes for an interesting murder mystery when there is no palpable, discernible reason for the death and all of the suspects know and like one another to the point of covering up and nearly all of them being willing to confess or at least be arrested to protect someone else.  It isn't uncommon for authors to use that theme with one character, but I don't believe I've read a novel where the confessions were quite so numerous.  Four stars.


Gypsi said...

That one sounds particularly good! I've not read Brand, but I've now added her to my to-read list. :)

J F Norris said...

Multiple confessions and characters protecting another who they think is the culprit is a Brand trademark. She uses that trope in at least four other books.

Isn't this the one where the name of the murderer is saved until the very last line of the book?

Bev Hankins said...

No...the murderer is revealed a little sooner than that.

This is only my second Brand novel (Green for Danger--which I love--was the first). I have Cat & Mouse AND Death of a Jezebel hanging out on the TBR stacks.

Ryan said...

One of these days I will have to check out one of these books. I just don't know when.

samantha.1020 said...

This definitely sounds like a good read! Considering that I've been wanting to try this author, I think that I will have to begin with this one. Great review :)

J F Norris said...

I can't decide which I think is her best -- TOUR DE FORCE or DEATH OF JEZEBEL. I envy anyone who has yet to read DEATH OF JEZEBEL. It's a stunner.