Wednesday, August 6, 2014

Mount TBR #15

I read this book for the Mount TBR reading challenge 2014.

Death on the Agenda – Patricia Moyes, 1962

The mysteries of Patricia Moyes were written from the Sixties to the Eighties but they exemplify the traditional British detective story, since violence occurs offstage, the tone is amusing and light, and the emphasis focusses on the investigation of the crime in order to determine whodunnit.

Moyes wrote 19 mysteries and many short stories starring the main characters of Henry and Emmy Tibbett . Henry is a Scotland Yard Inspector but Emmy brings her canniness and pluck to the table. She also bucks up Henry when he’s down. Like Nick and Nora as well as Campion and Amanda,  the crime-solving couple makes for a stable domestic atmosphere that long-time married readers can connect with and give the book’s marital exchanges an air of a rosy ideal.

Moyes was very well travelled and she sets Henry and Emmy in various interesting locales. For Death on the Agenda they are in Geneva for a convention of law enforcement officers working against the drug trade. Moyes likes to describe natural settings such as mountains and lakes. Like Patricia Wentworth of Miss Silver fame, Moyes is also skillful with people and their clothes and artifacts and the social activities of the amoral rich.

A member of the conference staff is murdered. Henry finds himself one of two solid suspects. The evidence is so solid against him that for a couple of moments he wonders if had brainstorm and stabbed the victim dead with a dagger. Surprisingly, Henry, at the dangerous age of 45, has a flirtation with another woman, an attractive, intelligent and kind Australian, which sends Emmy rather off the rails too.

While some readers may not feel easy with the semi-adultery, others may be uncomfortable with gunplay in which one characters shoots a gun out of another’s hand. How Dick Tracy! Also there is the standby of the Golden Age mystery: the excessively ingenious method of murder. Sigh.

I’m not giving anything away when I say that things turn out fine. The rich are no better than they should be. The marriage is kept intact. The killer caught. Stability restored.

I’ve read two by Moyes lately and both were good enough to made obtain about half-dozen additional books with Henry and Emmy. I think if a reader likes Ngaio Marsh and Margery Allingham, she’ll like Patricia Moyes.

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