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Death Called To The Bar
A Lord Francisco Powerscourt Mystery, No 5

by David Dickinson

      David Dickinson's fifth novel about Lord Francis Powerscourt is a whodunit in the classic vein, set in the arcane world of London's Inns of Court. As Powerscourt is present at the christening of his new twins, a feast is being prepared for in Queen's Inn, the smallest but most fashionable of the legal Inns. At the feast itself, just as the borscht has been served, barrister Alexander Dauntsey falls forward into his soup. When he is carried discreetly out, it is soon discovered that he is not drunk, but dead. A delicate mission like this needs the right light touch, so who better than aristocratic sleuth Lord Francis Powerscourt?

There is less humor here and less of the extravaganza than in others of the series, but then this time Dickinson is trying his hand at the best-loved form of the whodunit, the classic as penned during the golden age of crime writing. It has all the right ingredients, including the esoteric world of the Inns of Court, an art gallery, obscure wills, a dying doctor obsessed with poisons and a beautiful lady lurking in a vast, dust-sheeted mansion. It would be impossible perhaps for these delightful elements not to add up to an enjoyable tale and they do, although there are parts where the story treads water that could have stood some editing. The characters of Powerscourt and his immediate family, not in themselves particularly interesting people, are the more live wires in the story, and the character of Johnny Fitzgerald with his new project is starting to be more delightful. What would the series have been like with him in the driving seat? To its detriment, the story ends rather abruptly and not all the loose ends have been neatly tied, but it is still a most compelling read.

Other reviews in this series

Death & The Jubilee, No 2
Death of an Old Master
, No 3
Death on the Nevskii Prospekt, No 6
Death on the Holy Mountain, No 7
Death of a Pilgrim,
No 8
Death of a Wine Merchant
, No
Death of a Chancellor, No
Death Called To The Bar, No
Death in a Scarlet Coat, No 10 [review 1] [review 2]
Death at the Jesus Hospital, No 11

The Book

Constable & Robinson
26 January 2006
Historical Crime [1902 London]
More at US || UK

The Reviewer

Rachel A Hyde
Reviewed 2006
© 2006