Monday, March 20, 2017

Murder in the Museum - John Rowland

Yesterday's trip to the beach already feels like it happened weeks ago. A wet, and cold again, Monday at work would have been quite enough to bring me back down to earth anyway, but the other big event yesterday was a call from the decorater. This is related to the annoying (now evicted) upstairs neighbour who persistently flooded my flat last summer. After months of trying to coordinate with the approved decorater (I finally managed to get hold of him in January after he got back from the Caribbean) he disappeared again to work out a quote, and I heard nothing until last night when he phoned to say the work had to be gone this week and could he have a key.

I'm not paying for this so I suppose I can't be to snotty about it, but a little bit more notice would have been helpful. As it is I've had a fun evening rushing home to give the keys of my flat to a virtual stranger, with expensive shoes, who makes the Scarlet Pimpernel look easy to find. I'm sure it'll be fine. I've also had to clear anything breakable or previous put of my bedroom, kitchen, and bathroom so he can deal with the ceilings. It means the sitting room looks like a junk shop, I won't be able to find anything, and I've been half choked by dust. His 'don't worry about the pictures, love emulsion will scrape right off those' has not filled me with confidence. But it'll probably be fine?

At least 'Murder in the Museum' was reliable. I'd been saving it for a rainy day - murders in the British Museum/library don't come along every day (at least, I sincerely hope not) - and as there have been a few of those recently the time seemed right.

I'll be honest, it's not the best murder mystery I've read, but that really didn't matter. The joy of this book is in its premise. Henry Fairhurst, a meek and mild man, is quietly researching the life of an obscure 17th century French courtesan in the reading room when his peace is disturbed by a loud snore. When he try's to wake the snorer the man, Professor Arnell (an expert on some of the more obscure Elizabethan dramatists), falls to the floor, quite dead. The plot thickens when it turns out that he's not the first expert on Elizabethan dramatists to have died suddenly in the reading room.

Just what is going on? Does somebody have it in for academics who specialise in the Elizabethens, or is it because both men had money to leave? When a third scholar meets the same end the police have their work cut out.

The plot relies heavily on coincidence, and doesn't bear a great deal of scrutiny in places, but I liked Rowlands sense of humour more than enough to make up for that. It's not a book to be taken seriously, but as light entertainment it works very well indeed. I happily read through it in a couple of hours and now I've finished moving stuff for the decorater I'm off to dig out another Rowland as a reward for good behaviour.


  1. Yet another of the BLCCs on my tbr shelves. Sounds like a good distraction from your decorating woes. Hope it all goes well.

  2. The book was rather more satisfying than the job the decorater did. I'm now debating if it's worth making a fuss about the splashes of paint he's spread around the place and the rubbish finish to the ceilings - or just to leave it. I'm not paying, I knew I had to redecorate soon anyway, and it does look better than it did. (Sorry, bit of a rant)

  3. I feel your pain about the decorator, having left my flat for a week to let mine do his stuff. He simply didn't move or cover anything so almost everything has a fine layer of stippling and/or big brushstrokes of a differing colour. To say I am disappointed is an understatement.

    1. It sounds like we had the same decorater, and I feel your pain too. I really need to contact the agents who contracted him to let them know what they've paid for, but I'm still trying to work out what I want to achieve with the call. What I certainly don't want is the decorater coming back, I wouldn't be happy leaving him unsupervised, and just don't have the time to chase them.