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Tuesday 8 July 2014

'After the Exhibition' by Dolores Gordon-Smith

Published by Severn House
ISBN 978-0-7278-8376-6

Jack Haldean returns for his eighth adventure in England between the Wars.  As always the historic detail is lightly applied to give a real feeling of the period.  Early on Jack and his friend, Bill Rackham arrive at the Church Art Exhibition of the title correctly dressed for  London in formal morning wear of black coats and grey trousers.  Later in the book Jack visits a drawing room which is decorated in fashionable green, black and brilliant lemon with a chromium fireplace  - this gives a lovely snapshot of contemporary taste.  The first wisps of mystery come with equally contemporary feel and culminate in a rather gothic incident for Betty Wingate an appealing young woman. 

Jack investigates her frightening experience which others have descried as being a figment of her imagination and he is able to produce enough evidence to pique police interest.  His friend Bill is a Chief Inspector at Scotland Yard  which means that Jack can get the ear of the police fairly easily!Other events develop into a convoluted tale in which red herrings abound and the possible routes to an explanation of what is happening seem to be continually blocked.  Mystery, violence and sudden death may seem out of place in the world of Church art but they certainly do occur here.
This is a clever mystery in which the reader follows Jack's investigations with great pleasure.  The other people  in the story are - to follow the artistic image - sometimes brushed in or sometimes fully painted and  give us a rich cast of characters.
Reviewer: Jennifer S. Palmer
The first book in this series is A Fete Worse than Death.  Dolores has also written Frankie's Letter, set in the First World War.

Dolores Gordon-Smith lives in a small town near Manchester with her husband, five children, three cats and two dogs. She has always been fascinated by the Twenties. The four years of the First World War had ripped away the old securities and expectations and, when it was over, things were never the same again. Everything changed, from politics to fashions. Skirts rose to the knee and women cropped, bobbed or shingled their hair. Music took a new direction; listen to the clarinet solo of Rhapsody in Blue, the urbane, polished sophistication of Cole Porter and Noel Coward, the wistful longing of Jerome Kern and the “crazy rhythm” of Jazz.  Her three favourite writer in popular fiction are Agatha Christie, P.G. Wodehouse and Dorothy L. They reflect the classic detective story, where an ordered world is plunged into chaos and then re-invented, The perfect vehicle to celebrate the energy of this brave new world.

Jennifer Palmer Throughout my reading life crime fiction has been a constant interest; I really enjoyed my 15 years as an expatriate in the Far East, the Netherlands & the USA but occasionally the solace of closing my door to the outside world and sitting reading was highly therapeutic. I now lecture to adults on historical topics including Famous Historical Mysteries.

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