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The Skeleton in the Closet
M C Beaton

Robinson (Constable and Robinson)
23 June 2011/ ISBN 1849016089
Mystery / Contemporary / England
Amazon US || UK

Reviewed by Rachel A Hyde

Fellworth Dolphin has lived a miserable existence with his cold, old-fashioned parents. Now in his forties, he has worked as a waiter in a local hotel since the death of his father. One day he comes home to find that his old mother is also dead, and he has surprisingly inherited quite a lot of money. He had always thought that his parents were very poor, and he gave up his chance to go to university after his father had a heart attack and had to stop working. Then he starts to discover that there is a lot about his parents that he did not know, and could never have guessed. For example, was his father really part of a famous train robbery?

This is a stand-alone novel dating from 2001 that has not previously been available in the UK. Fans of Ms. Beaton’s books – like this reviewer – will be thrilled that at long last this elusive book can be bought, but how does it compare with the rest of her work?

Fell lacks the appeal of her series sleuths due to his awful upbringing, but this alone is not enough to make him a sympathetic character. By his side is faithful “plain Jane” Maggie Partlett from his hotel days, another loner who needs somebody to love and to love her. This book is as much a romance as a mystery, and bridges the gap between her M C Beaton mysteries and her Marion Chesney romances like nothing else seems to, which makes it interesting for fans. Watching the two take control of their lives and begin to enjoy themselves is enjoyable, as is the tangled trail of clues that leads to solving the mystery surrounding the money and Fell’s father. This is very much a complete novel, a rarity from a series novelist and although it lacks the charm and humor of her other work it is still worth reading.

Reviewer's Note: US edition is different
Reviewed 2011
© 2011