Miles, Alan - 'The Art of Remonstration'
Initially I did not think I would enjoy this book with the very peculiar title but surprisingly I found it quite a page turner. This is the second book by this author featuring Jim Diamond and his girlfriend Vivienne Bellamy.
After attending a dinner party at the impressive stately home of an old childhood friend, Lady Jennabel Seward, Jim and his girlfriend Vivienne find their car damaged and covered with painted graffiti. The culprits appear to be a group of hippy protesters demonstrating against proposed land purchases by Lady Seward's husband. Jim has to stay in lodgings provided over a pub for a few days whilst his car is repaired. Vivienne returns to London.
Lady Jennabel later, confesses to Jim that she has received some very compromising photographs of her husband Patrick and a young woman and asks for Jim's help. However, a mysterious French woman, Christiana Descoteaux also occupies Jim's mind.
When one of the protesters is found dead, with a photograph in her possession and the discovery of a secret refuge full of secrets, it makes the puzzle seem even more complicated. Another death finds Jim accused of murder, with his finger prints found on the murder weapon and his alibi has disappeared.
The only way for Jim to clear his name and discover the truth is to follow the trail abroad. The trail in France takes him and Vivienne to Caen and they discover some surprising photos in an old house.
The book is written in the first person in a 1940s Raymond Chandler style with Jim a British embodiment of Philip Marlowe even down to him wearing a trench coat and a hat, smoking and downing prodigious amounts of scotch whisky rather than bourbon. But with these affectations put to one side, this is really excellent story telling and I was kept guessing until almost the last page. More of the same please.
Terry Halligan, England
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