Amiss is unhappy with his job managing a right-wing, 200-year old English magazine, for the atmosphere is poisoned with egocentricity. And when the deputy editor is found drowned in a bowl of punch, suspicions of foul play are brushed aside by the police. But after another death, it appears that something wicked is at play among the magazine staff….
©1998 Ruth Dudley Edwards. All rights reserved. (P)2011 AudioGo
It is true that I know only what I have read in books. But I have read a great many books. ("Venetia" by Georgette Heyer)
Based on the plot description, I fully expected to enjoy this obviously veddy British mystery. I'm a longtime Anglophile who cut my mystery teeth on books by Dorothy Sayers, Ngaio Marsh (who's from New Zealand, but definitely Brit), and Georgette Heyer (her mysteries are highly underrated, although her Austenesque romances are better). Not having come across Ruth Dudley Edwards before, this looked like it might be a new series to enjoy.
Perhaps I chose the wrong entry in the series to start with, but Edwards's approach totally bewildered me. I got that it's satire. I also got that I don't know enough about English politics to pick up on all the "in" jokes, although the framework of hyperconservative, hidebound fogeys battling the new millennium is broad enough that not knowing all the details didn't really detract. But I didn't get how I was supposed to care about the characters, all of whom seemed contrived to the point of being ridiculous. Baroness "Jack" Troutbeck, apparently supposed to be the eccentric linchpin of the series, is more despicable than engaging. The scene in which she insults and browbeats a young waiter at an upscale hotel--telling her embarrassed luncheon companion in essence that "they need to know their place"--pretty much killed any interest I might have had left in the series, which by that point in the book wasn't much.
British eccentrics are legendary in the literary world, but when almost every character in the book is eccentric and each one is more over the top than the last, it gets boring fast.
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