Author: Helen M Francini

Bertie & the Crime of Passion by Peter Lovesey

Mysterious (first), 1995 As if the high-jinks of England’s current royal family aren’t enough, it now seems that Queen Victoria’s son has joined the fun — or so Lovesey would have us believe. In this third of a series, Prince Edward, or Bertie as he likes to call himself, visits Paris only to become entangled in the unraveling of a classic crime of passion. Out of friendship for a man whose daughter’s fiancé has been murdered, and also out of delightfully snobbish mistrust in the competence of the French police, he turns amateur sleuth, aided by no less a personage than Sarah Bernhardt herself. This mystery should appeal to readers […]

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The Company of Knaves by Simon Shaw

St. Martin’s (first), 1998 English actor Philip Fletcher is furious when his thespian archrival is nominated for a knighthood. But the death of an actor friend of Philip’s opens up an avenue to knighthood when an unknown man blackmails the dead actor’s son, a promising young politician, by threatening to turn his father’s diary over to a tabloid newspaper. The son knows that his father’s private life was anything but quiet and appeals to Philip for help. The job involves more than the usual undercover work: although he does not care about his friends’ sexual proclivities, Philip, who is straight, must infiltrate a gay S&M nightclub in search of the […]

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An Unholy Alliance by Susanna Gregory

St. Martin’s (first), 1996 In 1350, right after the plague of the Black Death, the last thing Cambridge University needs is a series of murders. Doctor Matthew Bartholomew has his hands full: with Brother Michael, he must investigate the killing of an itinerant monk who has broken into the chest in which all the university’s valuable papers are kept; someone is murdering prostitutes in the town, and the university’s vice-chancellor has gone missing. Gregory paints a vivid portrait of Cambridge recovering from the plague, not just in terms of the reduced population, but also in how the Black Death had shattered — and reshaped — the philosophical and religious beliefs […]

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The Venus Throw by Steven Saylor

St. Martin’s (first), 1995 This fourth in the Gordianus the Finder series begins in Rome, in 56 BC. Gordianus discovers that his old mentor, the Alexandrian philosopher Dio, has arrived from Egypt to ask the Roman Senate to grant official recognition to Egypt’s new ruler. Most of the envoy Dio traveled with has been murdered; within days he suffers the same fate. Soon an ex-neighbor of Gordianus’ is accused of the crime. Saddened by Dio’s death but unwilling at first to get involved, Gordianus finds himself hired to search out evidence against him. Saylor breathes vibrant life into several of ancient Rome’s most notable historical characters. Tinges of strange Eastern […]

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Playing Happy Families by Julian Symons

Mysterious (first), 1995 The Midway clan has been a happy family for thirty years when daughter Jenny disappears leaving no trace. As Detective Superintendent Catchpole investigates, a missing person case turns into a murder trial with no body. Too many false leads make the case a tough one to crack. True to Symons’ form, the crime in the book really exists as background. Jenny’s disappearance and the endless investigation act as a test of the characters’ personalities. The reader watches almost with a magnifying glass as they react, evolve, and in some cases change completely. Catchpole himself comes across as moralizing and old-fashioned when inquiring into the very modern, free-spirited […]

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