Friday, August 19, 2016

A Death for a Darling: Review

A Death for a Darling (1985) by E. X. Giroux finds young barrister Robert Forsythe and his loyal secretary Miss Sanderson finally taking a long-overdue vacation. Miss Sanderson is off to pay a duty call to a childhood friend before spending a bit of time on her own and Forsythe plans to spend four wonderful weeks fishing for trout in Scotland. But before he can finish packing, he is summoned by Miss Sanderson to join her at the home of Honoria Farquson for splendid surprise. She won't give him any hints as to the nature of the surprise, but she promises that he will "never regret this weekend." Sandy has an uncanny way of being right, but this particular weekend will be the exception to prove the rule.

It starts out pleasant enough. The surprise waiting for Forsythe in Norfolk is his favorite movie star Erika Von Farr who is playing in a remake of Wuthering Heights using the Farquson house in the film. The story has been updated to include a leather-clad Heathcliff on a motorcycle played by Von Farr's lover, Mickey Darling, who is anything but. His fans adore him, but everyone connected with the film (except Von Farr) detests the arrogant actor. But does anyone hate him enough to try and kill him? When someone is poisoned and it looks like the poison was meant for Mickey. Forsythe is compelled to try and get to the bottom of things. But when he comes up with the answer is it really the right one? Who was really the intended victim...and will the right person be arrested for the crime?

Perhaps it is because Forsythe is a little bit star-struck in this one and it seems to cloud his judgment, but I didn't enjoy this one quite as much Death for a Dancer. The interactions between Forsythe and his secretary--one of the highlights of Dancer--were not nearly as entertaining, and Forsythe doesn't shine quite as brightly as an amateur sleuth. Mickey Darling is a pretty loathsome character and few of the others are well-drawn enough to appreciate their contributions to the story. Honoria Farquson is the exception and the story was most interesting when she was on stage, as it were. The mystery plot itself is well done with a clever motive. It's a shame that the detective work wasn't as well done. A near ★★ effort--near enough that I'll go ahead and award three.

This counts for the "Broken Object" category on the Silver Vintage Scavenger Hunt card.

1 comment:

fredamans said...

Reading the first part, it sounds like the makings of a 5 star mystery. Shame about the actual sleuthing part. That is usually the best part.