Any reader looking for a series of crime stories along the lines of Dorothy L Sayers or Agatha Christie would do well to seek this book out. It’s very much a pastiche of the classic British crime novel, but should not be dismissed as dated fluff as there’s a harder edge and a very good sense of political awareness around the years leading up to World War II.
There’s an interesting partnership being set up in this first of the series between toff. Edward Corinth and an active member of the Communist Party, Verity Browne. The initial meeting of this unlikely grouping is convincing enough but I do not know how the teamwork would be continued in subsequent novels. Edward’s brother (a Duke) arranges a dinner party with pacifist leanings hoping to avert the progress towards war. During this meal a war-mongering general dies. Corinth and Browne are both present and team up to find the murderer. Set in 1935 it soon moves away from its typical country house murder scenario. Characterisation is good, but at times the pace feels a little lumbering and it all feels a little introductory.
It does seem that the author produced quite a series of these books quite rapidly. This is the first of the series of ten books produced between 2001 and 2009. When I was reading it I did wonder if this one had been around a bit before its publication date and was maybe spiced up a little when the author got a publication deal for the series. It reads a little older than its publication date, which I don’t feel is just down to the thirties setting. I do quite like the unlikely partnership and the series benefits from an attractive set of retro front covers.
I would certainly be interested in reading the second of this series “Bones Of The Buried” (2001) to see how things develop.
Sweet Poison was published by Constable & Robinson in 2001