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Sunday 19 April 2015

'Death of a Partner' by Janet Neel

Published by Ostara
ISBN 978-1-906288-93

This is the third instalment of the series of books by Janet Neel to be reprinted by Ostara.  The original series of 7 books appeared between 1988 and 2006.  They were, and are, excellent examples of the sophisticated, literate detective story based on a real life knowledge of the workings of the civil service and of other aspects of the Establishment.  To some extent they can be read now as historical crime!  The fascinating backgrounds of the books remind me of the well described backgrounds of the Dick Francis thrillers and of the financial settings of Emma Lathen's books.

In Death of a Partner detective Inspector John McLeish investigates the disappearance and then the murder of a Cabinet Minister's fiancée, the wealthy lobbyist Angela Morgan.  The case needs careful handling at a time when McLeish's lover, Francesca Wilson, has unexpectedly gone to New York to bail out an errant brother thus threatening a long awaited holiday for the two of them.

The pleasure of Janet Neel's books for me lie in the carefully plotted mysteries and the superbly delineated backgrounds of characters  in whose lives I am interested.  Francesca is a high flying Civil Servant in the Department of Trade and Industry whose specialist knowledge frequently helps John to understand the attitudes of the people with whom he is dealing.  The relationship between Francesca and John and the pressures of her family and other friends on that relationship is yet another fascinating strand in these books.  That factor is what makes me suggest that you would enjoy the series better if you read the books in order.  The development from book to book of the regular personalities is a pleasure to enjoy.  While the mystery requires no prior reading the interaction of relationships does deepen if you read the books in order.  The mystery is well elucidated by McLeish and his team.
Reviewer: Jennifer S. Palmer
The first book is Death's Bright Angel  and the second Death on Site.

Janet Neel Cohen, Baroness Cohen of Pimlico is a British lawyer and crime fiction writer. She was born 4 July 1940, and was educated at South Hampstead High School. She graduated from Newham College, Cambridge University in 1962 with a Bachelor of Arts (B.A.), Honours, Law. She started to work as a practising solicitor in 1965. She married James Lionel Cohen, son of Dr. Richard Henry Lionel Cohen, on 18 December 1971. She was a Governor of the BBC between 1994 and 1999, and she was created Baroness Cohen of Pimlico, in the City of Westminster (life peer), on 3 May 2000 and sits as a Labour peer in the House of Lords. Her first novel Death's Bright Angel, won the John Creasey award for best first crime novel of 1988. 

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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