Saturday, August 20, 2016
Design for Murder: Review
Tracy Yorke didn't realize what a womanizer her boss Oliver Medway was. And how many enemies he had made. Until the day she stumbled across his body on the floor of the studio where they worked, she just though of him as a brilliant and talented interior designer. But somebody didn't appreciate his talents...and showed it by bashing him over the head with his rather naughty fetish statue. Unthinking, she picks up the statue from where it's fallen and then drops it when Tim Baxter arrives at the scene of the crime right on her heels. But when he wipes her fingerprints from the murder weapon is he really just protecting her? Or was there other evidence on the statue that he's conveniently erased?
Detective Inspector Neil Grant seems awfully suspicious of her story and it doesn't help that an anonymous note arrives at the police station which says:
Whatever she says, Tracy Yorke drove through the village just after half past eleven that day. I ought to know because I saw her with my own eyes. And if she makes out there was nothing between her and Oliver Medway, that's a laugh.
Of course, he's got other suspects in his sights as well. There's Baxter who was suspiciously on the spot. And there's Medways's step-brother who stands to inherit now that Oliver is out of the way. His father and stepmother are also acting most peculiarly. As are a few of his clients. And then there are the mysterious deposits in Medway's bank account which look quite a bit like blackmail payments. All-in-all a lovely set of circumstances for Grant to investigate--and he's not going to let any clues slip past him. When a second death occurs, he's worried that what Tracy doesn't know about her former boss just might make her the third victim.
Design for Murder (1981) by Erica Quest* is a pleasant English village mystery. Tracy is our main character and most of the detective work done by Grant is done off-stage with clues revealed through his interactions with Tracy more than through our following him around as in a police procedural. Not a very intricate puzzle, but good, solid characterization and view of interpersonal relationships. Tracy is a very likeable character who the reader is rooting for throughout. A good book for a rain day (which just happens to be when I read this). ★★★
This counts for the "Yellow Object' category on the Silver Vintage Scavenger Hunt card.
*Erica Quest is one of the pseudonyms used by the husband and wife writing team of Nancy Buckingham and John Sawyer. Under the Quest name they published four stand-alone novels, including this one, as well as three books in a series featuring sleuth Kate Maddox.