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A Grave Man
A Murder Mystery Featuring Lord Edward Corinth and Verity Browne

by David Roberts

      Lord Edward Corinth and Verity Browne are attending the memorial service of Lord Benyon in Westminster Abbey when there is yet another murder for them to solve. Archaeologist Professor Pitt-Messanger is stabbed Agatha Christie fashion with an ancient Assyrian dagger. But is his daughter Maud grieving or rejoicing? Verity goes to her old school friend's house party to find out more, and turns up some remarkable facts. Her friend's husband Sir Simon Castlewood is interested in the new science of eugenics, and at a time when Hitler's own interest in it is starting to take a terrible turn.

There is as much mystery as history in this sixth novel in the series, and the result is a jolly good read. Usually I comment that the history is the star in these tales, and the plot takes a back seat but not this time; each element gets equal billing. I didn't guess whodunit, and there are many surprises in store showing that David Roberts has at last produced a real novel. Verity is still the vibrant catalyst around whom everything else revolves, and Lord Edward will presumably always be colorless but there is so much else to enjoy. The "classic" plot updated for a modern audience and of course all that glorious 1930s history. Churchill tells everybody a war is coming, and tales of horrors seep out of Germany. Central to the story is the surgeon Montillo's sinister Cannes clinic, and much is talked about the "master race" of Aryans and plans to remove undesirables from the gene pool. It all makes for chilling reading, especially since it is less than seventy years ago. There are no set pieces such as Guernica this time to hold up the story, which is seamlessly merged with the history. Roberts' best yet.

The Book

Constable (Constable & Robinson)
27 October 2005
Historical Crime 1937 / London & Cannes
More at US || UK

The Reviewer

Rachel A Hyde
Reviewed 2005
© 2005