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Tug of War
Detective Joe Sandilands series #6

by Barbara Cleverly

      Commander Joe Sandilands is enjoying a bit of R&R in Surrey with his sister Lydia, when the War Office intervenes. His special talents have caused him to be selected once again to solve a problem, this time in Reims. A shell-shocked soldier in a mental hospital needs to be identified, but he is unable to speak or indicate who he is - or perhaps that ought to be unwilling? Several people are claiming that he belongs to them, and Joe has to choose. The most likely candidate is a wealthy and attractive woman called Aline Houdart, the owner of a champagne estate. Accompanied by lively fourteen-year-old Dorcas (see The Bee’s Kiss, also reviewed on this site) Joe has to solve the problem, and prevent more murders.

Well, it looks as though we have truly said goodbye to India in this engaging series, but at least we are seeing France. One of the many good things about this series is their ability to spin an involving yarn, and their dissimilarity to each other. To its detriment as a mystery, quite a bit of this is fairly easy to guess, but not all, which makes all the difference. Joe remains a convincing protagonist, but he is never going to sparkle so Dorcas does this for him. Hopefully we will be seeing more of her in future books. There is some fascinating war history here, and Cleverly does a good job of recreating the atmosphere of this time sans the invariable Roaring Twenties gloss that always colors most books about this period. An entertaining tale that is not the strongest in the series, but still compulsive reading.

The Book

Constable (Constable & Robinson)
19 October 2006
ISBN-13: 9781845294281
ISBN-10: 1845294289
Historical Crime - 1926, France
More at UK
NOTE: Not yet up on US Amazon site

The Reviewer

Rachel A Hyde
Reviewed 2006
© 2006