BONES OF THE BURIED by David Roberts
Constable & Robinson - September 2001
ISBN 1841193852 HB
Historical Crime - 1936, England & Spain

Reviewed by Rachel A Hyde,
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This is the second outing for Lord Edward Corinth (the first was Sweet Poison), younger brother of the Duke of Mersham and sophisticated man-about-town, who is still trying to find something useful to do and feisty young journalist and Communist party member Verity Brown. This time Verity is in Spain reporting on the impending conflict when her lover David Griffiths-Jones is arrested for murder and is about to be executed. She begs Edward to come and intervene and he does - only to uncover a more complex plot involving the deaths of three boys who were with him at Eton and the long shadow of a scandal that caused them to leave under a cloud in 1917.

Roberts' first novel was written in the style of Dorothy L Sayers but this is more like a cross between her work and John Buchan. As in Sweet Poison Verity springs to full-blooded life but Edward is still a lacklustre fellow who would be hard to describe in many words. The story is too long - over 300 pages - and lacks the momentum to be anything like the exciting whodunit that it could have been and the whole thing falls between two stools so it is rather like looking at a painting where two separate elements vie for attention in opposing corners. The weaker part if the Sayersesque plot with the Eton old boys and their shenanigans as it is so drawn out and mixed up with the stronger and more vital plot of Spain in 1936 as the clouds gather which truly has the air of having been thoroughly researched and being - or so it seems to me - what the author truly wanted to write about. It will be interesting to see where Roberts goes with his third novel: adventure or whodunit? I think if he opts for the former he will really give his readers something to rave about.

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