Death and the Cornish Fiddler
John Rawlings Series #11
by Deryn Lake
Deryn Lake's novels about John Rawlings are always a treat; on the cozy side but delightfully
capturing the 18th century outlook on life. This is the eleventh of a series that shows no
sign of flagging, because the author has cleverly managed to find many ways of keeping her
plots and characters fresh. The mix of the mild and malevolent brings to mind some of John
Dickson Carr's peerless tales, and as he is my all-time favorite crime story writer this is
high praise indeed. So why does she deserve it?
John's rather dull wife Emilia is now history, but he dotes upon his little daughter
Rose and lusts after (in a very 18th century manner) the enigmatic Marchesa Elizabeth.
After a sojourn in Devon, the three of them have traveled down to Helston to witness the
famous Furry Dance, and at the inn where they are staying have fallen in with a rather
ill-assorted group of people. When the obnoxious daughter of one of them vanishes during
the festivities, John cannot resist playing sleuth and trying to catch the person responsible.
But the girl has vanished and he hasn't a clue whodunit, only that he has a feeling something
nasty is going on.
The main characters are once again on holiday, a delightful idea that takes them away
from Bow Street. This gives a fillip to the series by introducing new sights and situations
(writers of long-running series, take note). There is humor here, as evinced by the oddities
staying at the inn; but this is tempered with murder, some real grief, and oddly a touch of
the supernatural. There is always something going on, although at times the rather fruitless
detecting does get a shade repetitive and in need of a change; although I confess, I wasn't bored
once. I think my favorite thing about these books is the description of life in the robust
mid 18th century, this time far from London with a cast of rakish aristocrats, dissipated fops,
mysterious traveling folk, and west country worthies in a well realized setting that rings
true to this reviewer - who lives in the southwest. Thus I would recommend it for all historical
whodunit fans, not least because Ms. Lake lets her characters behave like 18th century people
and doesn't bow to the popular convention of making them all politically correct for modern
tastes. May this series run and run.
Allison & Busby|
Historical Crime [1765, Cornwall, UK]|
at Amazon.com US
Rachel A Hyde|