Saturday, May 16, 2009

Hasty Death - Marion Chesney

Eager to join the working classes, Lady Rose Summer has abandoned the comforts of her parents' home to become self-supporting. But life as a working woman isn't quite what Rose had imagined---long hours as a typist and nights spent in a dreary women's hostel are not very empowering when you're poor, cold, and tired. Luckily for Rose, her drudgery comes to a merciful end when she learns of
the untimely death of an acquaintance.Freddy Pomfret, a silly and vacuous young man, was almost certainly up to no good before he was shot dead in his London flat. When Rose discovers incriminating evidence pointing to several members of her class, she returns to London high society in order to investigate properly.
With the help of Captain Harry Cathcart and Superintendent Kerridge of Scotland
Yard, Rose prepares to do the social rounds---uncovering a devious blackmail
plot and an unexpected killer.

Another Edwardian murder mystery this is the second instalment in the series about the adventures of Lady Rose Summer and Captain Harry Cathcart.

After the end of book one where we met them and they solved a murder, it seems Lady Rose has some tender feelings for Captain Harry and wouldn’t be averse to a match between them. Unfortunately Captain Harry seems clueless and is ready to go on as a private investigator without Lady Rose.

Lady Rose is your usually spoiled debutante but you can’t help finding her funny and her attempts to lead a normal life. She decides to be a working girl, and, with some discreet help from Harry, manages to find employment in a bank with her companion and friend Daisy. One can’t help but shudder at the difficult like working women faced at the time having to live in hotels and in deficient conditions. Not what Lady Rose is used to so she quickly goes back to her parents and continues to drive them mad with not wanting to marry.

The mystery plot is not very strong and maybe that’s why I was more interested in Rose and Harry’s adventures than in finding out who murder a young gentleman who could have been blackmailing a number of people. But Rose and Harry soon turn their attentions to catching the killer and I followed along with them.

Parts of the book are actually quite funny, with Rose realising that working girls didn’t have an easier life as she thought or with Harry’s secretary falling for him, so that actually compensated for the fact that I wasn’t that interested in the mystery. By the end of the book Rose is nowhere near marriage but she and Harry devise a plan when her parents threaten to take her to India in search of a husband. They’ll pretend they’re engaged and that will leave Rose with more freedom for a while till they decide to part ways and she jilts him. I can’t wait for the next book to see how they are going to pull that one off.

Although the characters are very atypical I think Chesney can give a decent enough feel of the period in a light charming way.

Grade: 4/5

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