Ladies of Class
Conrad V. Sucatre <OldSchoolRomance>
||SPECIAL REVIEW: "Ladies of Class" by Marjorie Owen (Coming early next year)
I had intended to review "Love Calls the Tune" by Kathleen Norris this week, but something came up and I couldn't get
to it. Instead I'm going to do something unusual, and review a book that won't be released until later this year!
of Class" by Marjorie Owen (from Vintage Romance Publishing www.vrpublishing.com ) is unique in many ways. Its author, the late Marjorie Owen, passed away some years ago, and her manuscript was just recently
accepted for publication through the efforts of her daughter-in-law, Dee.
In its own way, "Ladies of Class" is an
"old time" novel in its style and characterization. This is the kind of murder mystery that we would have called a "who-done-it"
in the old days. It follows a tireless dectective who doesn't announce the identity of the killer until the end, after wading
through a baffling maze of clues.
I'm not exactly sure when this story was written; from some refernces in the text
I'm guessing it was penned in either the seventies or eighties. It certainly takes place well before the cell-phone and cyber
age. (Which makes finding clues that much more difficult for the hero.)
In Burshill, a backwater English village, Laura
Clayton is stabbed to death one foggy night while strolling back to her home. At first it looks like a robbery gone awry,
but then two other women are also murdered within days of each other--and like Laura, they all attended the same private school
in the late 1930s.
Richard Hayward, the police investigator assigned to this case, is the most likeable detective
I've seen in fiction in a long time. Because of good media exposure early in his career, he's considered a whiz kid at solving
crimes--a reputation he's not at all comfortable with. In a remarkable human touch to the story, he has a "Dr. Watson" in
his mother Ella, who sometimes gives him advice and in whom in likes to confine. For some reason the text occasionally calls
him "arrogant," but he certainly doesn't come across that way. Quite often he's baffled and confused by the lack of clues,
and he makes his share of mistakes. When he gets tough it's only with those who are obnoxious first, and he feels sorrow for
the killer's victims. I'd call him a "gentleman detective" myself.
I like the fact that the book has the characters
talking in natural speech patterns. Since this is a Brtish book, written by a British citizen, it means there's a lot of British
slang in the story. But that just makes the characters sound like human beings, and not puppets spouting cliches.
is not a heavy-duty read, but it's a fun book, the kind you like to sit down, put up your feet and relax with.
of Class" will be available early next year from Vintage Romance Publishing.