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Roberts, David - 'A Grave Man'
Hardback: 224 pages (Oct. 2005) Publisher: Constable and Robinson ISBN: 184529128X

A GRAVE MAN is the sixth in this 1930s series featuring Lord Edward Corinth and Communist journalist Verity Browne.

It's 1937 and Edward and Verity are attending a memorial service in Westminster Abbey for Lord Benyon who perished on the ill-fated Hindenburg trip to New York. After the service there is a cry from a few rows ahead of them where Maud Pitt-Messenger and her esteemed father were sitting. On approach they discover that Professor Pitt-Messenger has been stabbed with an ancient dagger.

The Professor's death is not easily solvable by the police and Maud goes to recuperate at a country house called Swift's Hill, owned by the Castlewoods. It so happens that Verity is an old school friend of Lady Castlewood and wangles an invite. Verity discovers that Maud's father was controlling and had ruined her life.

There are a number of other guests staying at Swift's Hill including a renowned cosmetic surgeon who seems to have strong views on the pseudo science of eugenics. In addition he works for a clinic in the South of France run by the Castlewood Foundation. Coincidentally the Castlewood Foundation is of interest to Edward as he's been asked by Winston Churchill to investigate the Foundation's ties with the Nazis and possible research into eugenics.

Edward is invited to Swift's Hill to make up a cricket team against the locals. Unfortunately through his ignorance he fails to stop another fatal stabbing.

Verity and Edward travel to the South of France to investigate the clinic and ultimately prevent a third murder. Meanwhile their personal relationship undergoes a big change from lovers to the best of friends as Verity falls passionately for a 'good German', the anti-Nazi Adam von Trott.

A GRAVE MAN captures the atmosphere of the 1930s superbly and includes interactions with some of the big names of the time including Churchill and the Duke of Windsor and the former Mrs Simpson. Through Edward's desire to work for Churchill we get the political background and the upheaval as leading politicians resign.

In the end the first murder isn't too difficult to solve but the reason behind the later crimes is more complicated and is a product of an ideology prevalent at the time. Smoothly written, the pages just fly by and Iím looking forward to the next book already, eager to see what will happen to Verity and Edward and the country as it faces the Second World War.

Karen Meek, England
February 2006

Karen blogs at
Euro Crime.

last updated 23/03/2008 20:57