Mad About The Boy? by Dolores Gordon-Smith

Mad About The BoyMidsummer 1923 and it’s the perfect night for a summer ball at Hesperus, the country house of author-sleuth Jack Haldean’s cousin Isabelle and her parents. But as with all such parties, there is a wide mix of invitees including both of Isabelle’s suitors and a ruthless businessman, Lord Lyvenden. Oh, and a couple of uninvited Russian revolutionaries as well…

Soon, during a firework display, Lyvenden’s secretary is found dead, an apparent victim of suicide… yeah, right. Soon Jack finds himself drawn into the investigation – but when a second death occurs and the blame is placed at the door of Jack’s best friend, it becomes imperative to find the truth and catch the murderer – whoever it may be…

Another of my 20 Books Of Summer, picked to remind me to get back to authors that I have rather neglected over the past year or so. Dolores Gordon-Smith inspired me to try these with her talks at the Bodies From The Library conferences, and The Chessman, the most recent entry into the series, is an outstanding mystery in the classic mold.

This one – oh, I’ve got no idea why there’s a question mark in the title before you ask – continues the emulation of the Golden Age. A finite group of suspects, each with enough suspicious behaviour to be a potential murderer, a charming sleuth (although not unbearably smug like some “posh” detectives) but by bringing in a little real-world politics (i.e. Bolsheviks), it adds a little extra to the mix.

It’s a fun read, handicapped a little by one of the most obvious murderers that I’ve seen in a long while (although what actually happened isn’t as straightforward as I thought, oddly in both more and less complex ways). It’s not as strong as either The Chessman or A Fete Worse Than Death, but still, it’s Well Worth A Look.

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