Sunday, December 01, 2019

Entertaining Roaring Twenties English Mystery, WHO'S SORRY NOW?, Maggie Robinson

Maggie Robinson's been a Maine author of historical romance fiction, but she's launched a fresh new series that's quintessentially English: her Lady Adelaide mysteries, clever and funny and garbed in the froth and fun of the upper-class across-the-Pond version of the Roaring Twenties.

In WHO'S SORRY NOW?, the second in the series, Lady Adelaide Compton, newly widowed at a quite young age (despite feeling SO much older than the Bright Young People around her), accompanies her younger sister to a raucus and slightly risqué club scene -- where she promptly engages in unofficially investigating a pair of murders that continue to multiply. Aided in this pursuit by a Scotland Yard inspector who's charmed by her and willing to give her room to probe the social set, Addie proves her mettle and her sharp sense of how to probe motives.

Remember the trio of motive, means, and opportunity? The scene that Robinson sets corrals them neatly, since everyone dying is part of a small group of friends, either wealthy or descended from collapsed wealth. Included and adding great panache to the group is the Russian Prince Alexei Andropov. And complicating Lady Adelaide's juggling of suitors and possible killers is the annoying presence of the ghost of her late husband, Major Rupert Compton.

Although Charles Todd has praised the series, the ghost here brings none of the gravitas of Todd's Inspector Rutledge series -- Major Rupert was a flying ace and is trying for access to heaven by helping his young widow solve crime! If that tickles your funnybone, tuck in for more entertainment. For example, when Addie's sister gets a lash of the poisoner's attack, Addie seeks the handsome (and Indian-heritage) Detective Inspector Devanand Hunter's permission to jump fully into the case, while Rupert's far too excited:
"Well done, my dear. It's just like old times. Fighting crime. Seeking justice." Rupert bounced up and down on the iron [hospital] bed and gave her a grin. He was still wearing the very same clothes she had buried him in.

She'd been lucky since January 1. Apparently her time was up. ...

"I know. It's most unsettling for you, me showing up again out of the blue. But think of me! Just when I was acclimating so nicely. ... I was rudely torn away again, without even a chance to discover my mission or shave—I know how you dislike my moustache. Never mind. Sacrifices must be made. Cee was in danger, and I know how fond you are of her. It was my duty."

What a speech. Addie's head spun. Did facial hair grow after one was dead? She'd heard ghastly things about fingernails. "How did you know it was poison?"

Rupert shrugged. "How do I know anything? It's a mystery. Or a miracle. You can thank me now."

Addie would have thrown a bedpan—empty or full—at him if one had been handy. But Rupert's words at the Savoy had made her act quickly.
Consider this the lighthearted version of a Jacqueline Winspear crime novel, or a feminine version of P. G. Wodehouse, come to think of it! Don't fight the fun ... just kick up your heels with the Charleston and keep an eye out for clues. [Published by the Poisoned Pen Press, now an imprint of Sourcebooks.]

PS:  Looking for more mystery reviews, from cozy to very dark? Browse the Kingdom Books mysteries review blog here.

No comments: