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The Bee's Kiss

by Barbara Cleverly

      Commander Joe Sandilands is back in dear old Blighty after his long stay in India, and living once more in London. Soon he is called to a murder investigation at the Ritz, where a woman has been found battered to death in her suite, her emerald necklace gone. It looks initially as though she might have surprised a burglar, but Joe is quick to spot more clues. Working with Detective Sergeant Armitage from his wartime years and one of the first WPCs, Tilly Westhorpe, he is going to have his work cut out for him to find out whodunit. The dead woman is the much-respected Dame Beatrice Jagow-Joliffe, one of the founders of the WRENS, and the highest in the land are going to do their utmost to stop this crime from being solved.

Initially, I was disappointed to read that the thing that made these books unique - their setting in 1920s India - was a thing of the past. Books set in London in that era are not exactly rare, and although I always enjoyed the plots of the earlier books, it was their setting that I liked the most about them. But this notwithstanding, The Bee's Kiss is a good book, one that starts predictably enough, but which gets better as you read more. Fans of David Roberts will enjoy the political and social history as the General Strike looms, but politics take a back seat with the plot firmly to the fore. Joe is a convincing central character, though a little dull compared to just about everybody else, but it is the story that is the star here as it twists and turns to a conclusion I didn't guess. Now we know Barbara Cleverly can take her hero out of his jewelled setting and spin a humdinger of a tale in more conventional circumstances, can he go back to India, please?

The Book

Constable (Constable & Robinson)
29 September 2005
Historical Crime [1926, London & Surrey, UK]
More at Amazon UK

The Reviewer

Rachel A Hyde
Reviewed 2005
© 2005