Thursday, June 8, 2023

Death of Mr Dodsley - John Ferguson

It's been a tough couple of weeks - a very dear friend has terminal cancer and honestly that's occupying most of my non-work-related thoughts. At work, I've got a performance review due tomorrow preparation for which has encroached quite a bit on non-work time. I've been knitting a lot because it's easier to concentrate on, and most of my reading when I have done any of it has been bits of advance proofs for some of this autumn's books. Bits because quite a bit of what's being touted is paranormal romance which I'm not the biggest fan of. 

It's fine, and we sell a lot of it so I want to have an overall grasp of who writes well that I'll be pleased to recommend, but I'm not in the right frame of mind to read 700 pages about whatever young woman is tasked with saving the world this time. I am enjoying Bookshops and Bonedust (Travis Baldree) the prequel to Legends and Lattes, out in November.

It's part of a streak of books set in bookshops I've been reading that started with Death of Mr. Dodsley; A London Bibliomystery. The action opens in Westminster in a lull between votes in an all night session. One MP notices the book another has been reading - it was written by his daughter and the reviews have been harsh. Around the same time, a young policeman finds the body of a bookseller - arranged surprisingly similarly to the cover of that murder mystery.

What is the link and will the police work it out, or will the services of Private Detective Mr MacNab also be required. Yes, yes they will. I liked this book, it's fun with some enjoyable observations about the book trade. It's a decent mystery with a couple of enjoyable twists before the end is reached, but chiefly I enjoyed it for the observations on class, snobbery, and social climbing MPs. The intended audience must have been solidly middle class enough to understand that it would be very non-U to say serviette and to be able to laugh at the police's general ignorance of what a second-hand book might be worth. 

It's probably equally safe to assume that the regular reader of the Crime Classics series would be just as well informed about these crucial social markers. The joke works all the better because the police in question are by no means stupid, and for all their flaws the socially mobile MP and his wife are decent enough people. The murderer might (or might not, no spoilers) have an excellent grasp of what cutlery to use and which glass to put what wine in - doesn't make them a better person!

1 comment:

  1. I keep reading reviews of Death of Mr Dodsley, and was planning to wait a while before buying it, because I’ve bought too many books recently and feel I need to finish current reads… But I’m ever so tempted,