Sunday, July 20, 2008

Pg. 69: Dolores Gordon-Smith's "Mad About The Boy?"

The current feature at the Page 69 Test: Dolores Gordon-Smith's Mad About The Boy?.

About the book, from the publisher:
It’s the height of summer 1923. At a ball in Sussex, Jack Haldean, former Royal Flying Corps pilot, investigates an apparent suicide, but everything is thrown into chaos when a group of Russian revolutionaries become involved in the aff air. In a case involving deception, greed, jealousy, kidnapping, torture and murder, Jack will face an agonizing choice.
Among the early praise for the novel:
"Murder winnows the guests at a country-house party. World War I pilot-turned-mystery author Jack Haldean is attending his Aunt Alice and Uncle Philip's Silver Wedding ball at Hesperus, their country estate, when the murder of Jack's old friend Tim Preston disrupts the festivities. Down on his luck, Tim's been working as a secretary for Lord Lyvenden, an obnoxious munitions manufacturer who made a big enough bundle during the war to buy a peerage and a well-bred wife to go along with it. Tim's death looks like suicide, but Jack is suspicious, and when Lyvenden is discovered in a pool of blood he springs into sleuthing mode again (A Fete Worse Than Death, 2007). Jack's shell-shocked pal Arthur Stanton, who was found standing over the body, has decamped, but Jack wants to believe him innocent. Also staying at Hesperus is his beautiful cousin Isabelle, who despite her recent engagement to wealthy banker and sportsman Malcolm Smith-Fennimore is a little in love with Stanton and sure he's innocent; Smith-Fennimore himself, who takes a shot at the fleeing Stanton; Lyvenden's unconcerned widow Lady Harriet and her companion, Lyvenden's former mistress; Lady Alice's swaggering stepson; and sundry other guests and servants. Perhaps several mysterious and threatening Russians, some missing papers and tales of Czarist gold may hold a clue. A classic postwar country-house mystery with a Christie-like denouement."

"In his play 'Forty Years On', the inimitable Alan Bennett refers to 'that school of Snobbery with Violence that runs like a thread of good-class tweed through twentieth century literature.' Well, Dolores Gordon-Smith's latest novel "Mad About The Boy?" certainly has the texture of good-class tweed, but the snobbery is only mild and the violence comfortably refined! In short, this is an eminently civilized and reassuring pastiche of the classic English detective genre: good style, fiendishly orchestrated plot, plucky protagonists, foreign assassins and suave villains. Furs, Abdullahs, balls, butlers and Bugattis (Spykers and Bentleys,actually),set the social scene and provide an authentic background to the bizarre events. Yet the sombre spectre of the Great War casts its long shadow, and thus the mixture of gaiety and threat, decency and cynicism produces an ethos of moral ambiguity - a fusion which gives the novel both its realism and its intrigue."
--Suzette A. Hill, author of A Load of Old Bones and Bones in The Belfry
Learn more about the book and author at Dolores Gordon-Smith's website and her blog.

Dolores Gordon-Smith is the author of A Fete Worse than Death, the first book in the Jack Haldean mystery series.

The Page 69 Test: Mad About The Boy?

--Marshal Zeringue