Joe Sandilands Murder Mystery, No 9
5th chronologically in series
September 13, 2011 / ISBN: 1569479879
Historical Mystery / Police Procedural / England / 1922 - Golden
by L J Roberts
First Sentence: Are you sure this is the place, cabby?
It’s 1922 and Commander Joe Sandilands, back from his tour
in India, is now head of the CID and the Special Irish Branch of
the Metropolitan Police. Tsar Nicholas, cousin to King George, and
his family have been murdered in Russia and the Irish threat is
ever present. With the murder of Lord Dedham by a pair of Irish
gunman with the assistance of an escaped third gunman, and suspicions
of a Russian spy out to kill the Royal Family, Joe commanders the
assistance of Lily Wentworth, a young Constable he saved from being
knifed in the posterior while arresting a child predator.
For those who have been following this series and reading the
books as they are released, Ms. Cleverly has jumped us back in time
from Joe’s last adventure, set in 1926, to this one. For those
for whom this is their introduction to Joe, fear not as it reads
very well as a standalone and provides sufficient character definition
so as not to feel lost.
The biggest difference is that whereas the previous books focused
on Joe alone, this is a collaborative, and professional, effort
between Joe and Lily. One of the most significant things about Lily,
is seeing how the role of women in England had changed during this
time. There actually was the first female CID officer, Lilian Wyles,
appointed in 1922/23. That blending of historical facts, and many
characters, within a fictional story is only one of the things Ms.
Cleverly does extremely well.
Another of Ms. Cleverly’s strengths is her voice. She conveys
emotion very effectively. Both the dialogue and her narrative convey
the social class and role of the
character involved. There are flashes of humor, such as an observation
natural for someone
at Joe’s age of 29, and a cleaver way in which we are informed
of Lily’s appearance and capability through “hearing”
Joe’s side of a telephone conversation. She creates a strong
sense of time and place through the use of period euphemisms…”Phyl…the
Slip-Up? How’s he doing?” (an illegitimate child) and
…”He’s not planning to twang your elastic”
(get in your panties), but also illustrating the social structure
and manners of the time. There is even an excellent argument on
loyalty to England and the purpose of the monarchy and a painfully
realistic view about war…”The men of Europe were straining
for a war. When the will to war is there, one bullet from a madman’s
gun outweighs years of diplomacy.” and that the actions of
great nations can be substantially less noble than the nations themselves.
It is the hallmark of a fine writer when they make you stop and
However, the dark is well offset with the light. Although listed
as “A Joe Sandilands Murder Mystery,” the stage is shared
by, and sometimes dominated by, Lily. It is refreshing to have a
male and female character in strong roles without their being a
romantic relationship. Each character definitely holds their own
although there are
several scenes between them which seem rather unrealistic, but rather
how one would like such relationships to be.
They story is very effectively written; you are drawn in further
into the story and the darkness of the time with each chapter. There
are well executed changes of direction that take you, with some
good suspense, down unexpected roads. Unfortunately, there is one
major convenience that makes things a bit too pat, but it is of
little consequence to the overall and the ending is a bit abrupt.
“The Blood Royal” is, in all, another very good read
from Ms. Cleverly.