Julia Flowers is a specialist in Oriental antiques in Edinburgh. She is called in to give her opinion on the antiquities found in the house of a former diplomat who was brutally murdered. Her investigations into a pair of ornate bowls lead her into digging deeper and deeper into the murder itself.
She encounters Detective Inspector Bland, who is investigating the murder but despite being warned off, she still finds herself drawn into the mystery of who killed the diplomat. But as another body surfaces, it seems that she is herself now in danger.
This is the first of (apparently) four planned books to feature Julia Flowers, written, according to Goodreads, by a writing pair consisting of an academic and an Oriental artwork specialist. And it’s a little on the odd side.
The tone is a little inconsistent – it seems as the story sets out to be a Glasgow version of one of those American cosy mysteries. You know, the ones where the heroine has a specialist job that for some reason means that they end up tripping over more and more bodies. But as the book continues, there is at least one brutal murder, involving the removal of a part of the anatomy that will make just under 50% of the population wince. Add in some shenanigans with a dominator and you realise that this isn’t a normal cosy.
The plot trundles along nicely, with a decent number of bodies. The killer is hard to spot (although becomes obvious a little too far before the actual reveal for my tastes) and the story is complex and ticks the usual mystery boxes.
Where it does fall down for me is in the dialogue, some of it sounding quite stilted and a number of the characters sounding to me as if they have the same voice. One thing that stood out for me was the lack of contractions in the dialogue, making some of the exchanges sound fairly artificial.
If you can look past this, then there’s a decent mystery tale here. Worth a look.