- Hardcover: 352 pages
- Publisher: Severn House Publishers Ltd; World ed. edition (26 Mar. 2004)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 0727860453
- ISBN-13: 978-0727860453
- Product Dimensions: 14.6 x 2.9 x 22.8 cm
- Average Customer Review: 8 customer reviews
- Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 2,449,128 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
Angels Dining at the Ritz (Detective Sergeant Suzie Mountford series) Hardcover – 26 Mar 2004
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August 17th 1942 and the war is the backdrop to DS Suzie Mountford's investigation into the death of an eminent barrister and his family in London. But within hours the investigation leads the team to Norfolk and the American Air Force personnel stationed nearby.
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The naïve and rather simple minded Woman Detective Sergeant Suzie Mountford is in thrall to her lover and boss, Detective Chief Superintendent the Honourable "Dandy" Tom Livermore - the only flaws she finds in him are that he sometimes talks with an Eton drawl and he farts in bed - she fails to see that he is a patronising, pretentious, poseur prat and a misogynist to boot.
Golly Goldfinch, the archetypal pantomime villain reappears and it is littered with many other pantomime villains, improbable scenes and unconvincing action.
It would be two stars, except for the parts about the missions of the Wild Angel, a B17 Flying Fortress, and its crew, which are first rate.
No more Suzie Mountford and Dandy Tom for me.
The year is 1942 and WDS Mountford has by this stage become an established member of Scotland Yard's elite Reserve Squad. Her previous adventures have charted her early career path and love life. This present story finds her at a crossroads, uncertain about previous choices and with difficult decisions to take. Many of these are postponed for future instalments to be penned by Gardner as the fast-moving plot involves Suzie in the hunt for the pitiless murderer of an entire family at their Norfolk retreat. Woven with deft strokes into the remorseless fabric of this main story are two further strands - the plight of Wild Angel, a Flying Fortress of the USAAF, and its crew; and the return to the series of its first scapegrace, Golly Goldfinch, the mentally unhinged serial murderer introduced in Bottled Spider. Both the crew of Wild Angel and Golly himself have significant parts to play in a story that culminates in the unmasking of the killer - with a denouement that is as satisfying as it is logical - and further troubles for Suzie Mountford. Gardner masterfully escalates the tension as the story accelerates towards its sinister conclusion.
Series purists may quibble that Suzie Mountford herself plays a reduced rôle but, whilst there is some truth in that argument, this allows other previously established characters to come to the fore - notably Detective Chief Superintendent the Honourable Tommy Livermore, Suzie's lover, and DS Molly Abelard. This, we suspect, will be the pivotal novel of the series after which the major characters' lives will change forever.
Once again John Gardner has given free rein to his ever-fertile imagination and provided us with a mystery that is both meticulously constructed and gratifyingly convoluted. He has strayed into Christie territory but with a cynical eye and a healthy dose of humour, and I have no hesitation in recommending this as the best novel of the series so far.
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