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An enjoyable "cosy" mystery
on 13 February 2010
While I am a great fan of GH's Regency novels, I am not so keen on her detective stories. The Unfinished Clue is the fifth I have read (the previous four being Envious Casca, A Blunt Instrument, Detection Unlimited and Why Shoot a Butler?) and it is by far my favourite. I love its house-party setting and found the characters interesting.
The story starts with two sisters: common-sense singleton Dinah who is a guest of her unhappily married and put-upon sister Fay. (Echoes of a less-touchy Serena and Fanny from Bath Tangle I thought.) Fay's husband, Arthur, is a tyrant and not particularly popular with his guests who include: his impecunious nephew, Fay's admirer, a couple they met on holiday and Arthur's son and his cabaret-dancing fiancee, Lola. Other characters appear in the form of dinner guests and servants. In due course someone is murdered and Inspector Harding (who is slightly reminiscent of GH's Regency heroes) investigates.
It is these characters and relationships which make the story so enjoyable, along with the intrigue of working out who did it. Not for me gritty reality or tense atmospheres. I like my detective novels to be escapist, with as little violence as possible. This is written with a light touch, and I almost cried with laughter at some of Lola's comments. I didn't get as engrossed as I had with GH's Regency novels, such as Cotillion or Venetia, nor did it race along like The Grand Sophy, but it was an enjoyable clean read, with some fun and intrigue.