Saturday, December 26, 2015

Body of Opinion: Review

Lamia noticed that the glass in her hand was trembling, and she put it down quickly on the mantelshelf, a nasty Tudor affair in carved stone. Her other hand tightly held an appropriately named clutch bag, in black satin with a diamanté trim. In it, she was carrying all a woman could need at a party where she hoped to meet her husband's girlfriend: compact, mirror, comb, lipstick and gun.

Quite an opening line for Susannah Stacey's village mystery starring Superintendent Bone. Lamia Hervey is hanging out at the latest do over at Ken Cryer's house in the hopes of confronting the other woman in her husband's life. Cryer is rock star whose guests include Alix Hamilton, a sexy woman who worked for Alexander Hervey--gathering notes for his snide magazine column--and the suspected other woman; fellow mega-star Archangel, a relative of Alexander Hervey's; a disgruntled collector, whose private chapel Hervey trashed in print; and the unknown writer of some deeply tawdry, sexually explicit letters to Alix, which she may have used to blackmail. When the party's over and Ken makes his way to bed, he finds his previously locked room open to all comers and Alix Hamilton propped invitingly under the covers. Except....she's not available for fun and games. She's dead. But did Lamia Hervey use her gun to kill her golden rival?

She thinks she did. And confesses to the crime. But there were two wounds in the body--from two different guns. And that's not the only surprise the corpse has to offer. Bone will have to find out who knew Alix Hamilton's secrets and the secrets she knew about others before he will be able to unravel crime. There's also the little matter of the missing religious relic. Was that the real motive for the murder? And Dr. Walsh, who had made a house call for Cryer's sick son, may have important information, but was called to another case before he could tell. 

Stacey (the pen name for Jill Staynes and Margaret Storey) provides a nice 1980s update to the village mystery. Believable modern characters and plenty of clues and red herrings make for an interesting crime novel. Several suspects with solid motives provide the reader with enough choices to prevent an easy solution. ★★ for a solid mystery and a fun look at a book I enjoyed once before.

I read these novels back in the 80s when they were hot off the presses and enjoyed them very much. Superintendent Bone is recovering from the loss of his wife and his struggles to return to a normal life (that includes the hints of romance) provide depth to the character without as much angst as can often be found in more recent detective novels.

1 comment:

fredamans said...

Sounds like solid storytelling! Great review!