Love, Art and Murder
Travelling back from New Zealand, where he has been recuperating after an operation (and solving a theatrical crime) Chief Detective Inspector Roderick Alleyn meets a rather remarkable woman on board the ship. Agatha Troy, known to all as Troy, is a well-respected artist. She is completely uninterested in flirtatious, simpering feminine wiles, full of subterfuge, but is direct, driven, and motivated to excellence in her work. Some kind of almost unwelcome frisson occurs between Alleyn and Troy. Each is a little suspicious of their own feelings, and sure only of the indifference felt by the other.
Some time later, matters murderous happen in an artist’s retreat and painting school which Troy is running, for a group of strongly egotistic, often highly competitive and unconventional artists. Chance dictates that Troy’s studio is only a few miles away from the Alleyn family home and that Alleyn is visiting his adored and wonderful mother, Lady Alleyn. Location means that the local force are more than happy to draft in the famous, brilliant investigator to solve a case beyond their normal abilities. Alleyn, along with his trusty familiar crew, Inspector Fox, Bailey-the-fingerprints, Thompson-the-photographics are also joined by the journalist with an ear to the ground about exploits Alleyn – Nigel Bathgate, happily married to Angela North from Book 1 of the series, who is about to give birth.
The solving of yet another ingenious and horrid crime is of course the thrust of the book, but, as always, there are other delights along the way. Not least of which is getting to know more about Alleyn’s family background. He must be a particularly unusual detective in a series, – certainly unlike most detectives in more modern series – as not only is he neither a drug or drink abusing maverick with tendency to serial bed-hopping who comes from a dysfunctional family, but he has, instead, a particularly warm relationship with his lovely, intelligent, well liked, charming mother. Mother and son clearly love, like, respect and appreciate each other, with good reasons for doing so, on both sides. Lady Alleyn, like her son, is a thoroughly good egg, with spirit, wit and individuality. She is also keenly and intelligently interested in her son’s profession. And would dearly like him to find the kind of exceptional woman who would be a fine and fitting match for him.
Unfortunately, matters of the heart are bound to be a little difficult when Alleyn is bound to consider Troy as one of the potential suspects in the artists’ murder mystery. She is someone who appears to have both motive and opportunity, as of course do the usual gathering of others in this painterly version of the classic country house murder.
This is book 6 of the series, and as enjoyable as the previous 5