Things I’ve Learned From British Mysteries
1. When a detective says, “oh, one other small thing…,” it isn’t.
2. Brush up on your vocabulary when asking the pathologist for favors:
“Alleyn went out, changed his mind and stuck his head round the door.
‘If I send you a pill or two, will you have them dissected for me?’
‘If you’d rather. Good-bye.’
3. When dealing with nobility, it is best to mind your manners:
“‘I asked you to come and see me,’ she began very quietly, ‘because I believe my husband to have been murdered.
Fox did not speak for a moment. He sat stockily, very still, looking gravely before him.
‘I’m sorry to hear that, Lady O’Callaghan,’ he said at last. ‘It sounds rather serious.’
Apparently she had met her match in understatement.”
4. Don’t try for pretentious with the police:
“‘Do you know that Sir Derek O’Callaghan was probably murdered?’
‘My Gawd, yes.’
‘Yes… With hyoscine.’
‘My Gawd, yes.’
‘Yes. So you see we want to be sure of our facts.’
‘He ‘had no hoverdose of ‘yoscine from ‘ere,’ said Mr. Sage, incontinently casting his aitches all over the place.”
5. Get your P.M.s straight:
“‘Everybody talks to me about ‘P.M.s,’ complained Chief Detective-Inspector Alleyn to Inspector Fox on Monday afternoon, ‘and I never know whether they mean post-mortem or Prime Minister. Really, it’s very difficult when you happen to be involved with both.”
Alright, Christie she ain’t–though the mystery is full of red herrings, including a group of Bolsheviks, it resorts to an ultimately ridiculous solution–but Marsh does write an entertaining story. Plotting here surrounded an ill Home Secretary who is rushed to emergency surgery. Per a friend review, Marsh relied on one of her doctors (her gynecologist?) for part of the story. I found that interesting; the scenes in the operating room and details with the surgery had the air of verisimilitude, and I enjoyed the trip down Historical Medicine Lane (thank <i>heavens</i> I don’t have to calculate grains of a drug for dosing!).
The dialogue, characters, and setting are all interesting and entertaining. Reoccurring characters Nigel and girlfriend Angela appear for a brief interlude, but their appearance is so short as to be amusing over distracting. As far as plotting, however, there is no real sense of impending danger; more an intellectual type of whodunnit. Still quite a bit of fun that still allows one to comfortably put down the book and go to sleep when it’s late.