Sentence: New Year is the season of hope or despair.
is excited to welcome the Ballets Russes from Russia. It doesn't
except the murder scene of the lead's understudy, in one of
the ballets, to have been real. Which man was the intended
victim? Lord Powerscourt is called in to find out. But members
of the ballet are not the only Russians in London. Two you
men from very wealthy Russian families stole their mother's
valuable jewels in a fit of pique. They sent them to London
with a member of the ballet company to be sold. Also, followers
of the revolutionist Lenin are there to change millions of
rubles, stolen from a bank in Russia, into pounds. Can Powerscourt,
with the help of his wife Lucy and friend Johnny Fitzgerald,
put all the pieces together?
is much to like in this book, starting with the very chapter
Good chapter headings are always a treat, and Dickinson wisely
chose to use ballet terms and their definitions for this book.
What he also does is demonstrate the world of wealth, connections
and protocol Lord Powerscourt inhabits, and the hierarchy
of investigating the dead: if one was English, they rate an
inspector; if European, a sergeant; Africans only rate a detective
smoothly integrates real historical figures with fictional
characters, as well as incorporating historical information
into the plot. One often hears about the Bolsheviks, and their
involvement with Lenin and Stalin, but it is nice to learn
about them, in a simplified context, and for what they stood.
The story also really makes clear the animosity and distrust
All of the characters, are fully-dimensional, particularly
Powerscourt. We know not only about the investigation, but
his family life and how that plays into the investigation
through the connections both he and his wife have. At the
same time, it is pleasant that he is not a snob, yet quite
egalitarian in this treatment of the young sergeant and others
of a lower social class. What is also delightful is the elements
of observation and humor
"The answer came in a whisper.
Powerscourt had often remarked how people thought they could
minimize the effect of some terrible news by announcing it
in the lowest of voices."
For all the good, however, this is not the best book in the
series. Dickinson is very good at taking a seemingly small
stream and adding tributaries until it becomes a wild, rushing,
tumbling river, finally opening it up into a wide, flat body
of water. In this case, there were are few too many tributaries
and it became a difficult river to navigate.
Death Comes to the Ballets Russes contains some very
effective drama, broken by subtle humor, but the narrative
resolution is a bit of an anticlimax. Still, it is a respectable
addition to the series.
of other titles in this series
& The Jubilee,
Death of an Old Master, No 3
of a Chancellor, No 4
Called To The Bar, No 5
on the Nevskii Prospekt, No 6
on the Holy Mountain, No 7
Death of a Pilgrim, No 8
of a Wine Merchant,
Death in a Scarlet Coat, No 10
Death at the Jesus Hospital, No 11 [review
of an Elgin Marble No 13
Comes to the Ballets Russes No 14