Tuesday, June 30, 2015

The Summer School Mystery: Review

Participants at the summer music school at Falconbury plunge into their work with a little Wagnerand a symphony by Sibelius...little do they know that they ought to be playing a requiem.

The music school takes place in the country, but students come from all over--including the Royal School of Music in London. The conductor is disconcerted when Derek Fox (his student leader) and Belinda Power, the percussionist, fail to appear for the initial session. Derek then slips in just in time for the first musical pieces, but there is still no sign of his fiancée Belinda. The orchestra goes on without her, but Mr. Hanington, the conductor, is not at all satisfied with her replacement--reading him the riot act for not coming in on his part. When Godfrey Farre, the unlucky percussionist, insists that he had done his part properly and that something seemed to be wrong with the timpani, an inspection of the instruments seems to be in order. When they remove the head they find that there is something wrong with drum--something very wrong indeed.

Godfrey lifted his stick and brought it down on the largest of the three timpani. A curious dead sound came from it, as if a pile of leather had been struck. The whole orchestra turned and stared at him...

Stashed inside the largest drum is the body of a young woman who is immediately identified as Belinda Fox.

Inspector Fitch and Superintendent Mitchell immediately suspect the boyfriend when they learn that the young lovers often had disagreements. Derek turns to Dr. David Wintringham--Bell's leading gentleman sleuth--a medical man with a penchant for solving crimes. But Derek does little to help his own cause, giving Wintringham little information to back up his plea of innocence. The good doctor is forced to look for other suspects on his own. Fortunately, for Derek, there are several likely candidates--from the conductor who wanted to marry Belinda himself to the member of the Royal School of Music who had a sharp disagreement with her back in London to the aunt who would inherit upon her death to a roommate who may have had cause to want an apartment all to herself.

The first thing Wintringham must discover is what in the world in Derek hiding? And who is the killer if Derek is innocent? 
This mystery doesn't lack for clues. In fact, I think perhaps Bell sprinkled them a bit too liberally and/or obviously about. It wasn't difficult to figure out who did it and why. The plot is fine and the characters are well done. It was interesting to visit a British summer music school and the Royal School of Music, so the setting was good as well. But this winds up being a very middle of the road book for me. If I hadn't spotted the solution well before the end of the book, this would might have collected four stars, but as it is-- ★★

This was a prize from Freda over at Freda's Voice in the 100 Plus Reading Challenge--and, thus, the last book I received for free.  


J F Norris said...

I keep finding (and buying!) Josephine Bell books in my travels. They've all been dirt cheap so I thought what the hell! And come September I'll be plunging full head in the murky waters of her uneven mysteries. I hope I manage go swimmingly through enjoying them or at least tread water if I find myself out of my depth. I tried FALL OVER CLIFF a long time ago and couldn't get into it. Left it unfinished. I'm determined to finish at least one or two this year. None of them are titles you've reviewed though (or have you?): PORT OF LONDON MURDERS, DOUBLE DOOM, EASY PREY and THE UPFOLD WITCH (the last one I've had in a TBR pile for over three years now!).

fredamans said...

Nice to you finished this one! Too bad it didn't pack more punch in the clue department. I prefer to be stumped, not have the answers obvious. I don't think the music theme appeals to me much though, so don't think it would be my cup of tea.
Great review!

Bev Hankins said...

John--no, I haven't read/reviewed any of those you mention. But EASY PREY & FALL OVER A CLIFF are both on the TBR stacks (along with several others). Hope you find some to like.