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Enter Pale Death
Joe Sandilands #12
Barbara Cleverly

Soho Crime
December 2014 / ISBN
Police Procedure / England /Historical -1933

Reviewed by LJ Roberts


First Sentence: "Gingerbread? You're sure it was gingerbread she asked for, Gracie?"

Death comes to a country estate when Lady Truelove is killed by a horse known for becoming violent. Or was she? Scotland Yard Assistant Commissioner Joe Sandiland is asked to investigate but the situation is complicated by Joe's dislike of Sir James Truelove, who is also patron of Dorcus Jolifee, the woman Joe hopes to marry.

Cleverly excels at creating a sense of time and place. Here, we have a very clear picture of the titled/social set in the 1930s from dialogue, which is reflective of the time and suitable to the various classes; to food… "Joe was glad he'd taken the hint and declared for the strawberries; the plump miracles of summer magic were duly served on Delft-patterned dishes with a matching pot of yellow Devon cream so think it had to be spooned from the jug."; to dress, "Suit is from Monsieur Worth and perfume from Mademoiselle Chanel, Officer." One also can't help but enjoy the inclusion of several literary passages.

This is very much a character/relationship-driven story with wonderful characters. It is rather nice to learn that the protagonist has shortcomings and to learn more about his background. However, there is one scene where one might be a bit disappointed by his attitude. Although Dorcus-known to readers of previous books-only plays a minor role here, the return of Lily Wentworth, former PC now working as a private enquiry agent, is delightful. Dr. Adelaide Hartest is also a wonderful addition to the story.

Enter Pale Death
lures you in with bucolic descriptions, underlain with tension, escalating to a rather shocking scene. That said, the interesting and unexpected ending could leave one feeling a bit disconcerted. It will be interesting to see where things progress from here.

Reviewed 2015