Tuesday, April 26, 2011
Reading this made Miss Lemon think of Colin Dexter's The Dead of Jericho. Indeed the two novels, with plots rooted in Greek tragedy, characters who quote Shelley and Shakespeare and detective inspectors more dogged than ambitious, share a crafty commonality.
But finding the familiar doesn't make reading Death Watch any less fun. It's possible that Dexter influenced Cythia Harrod-Eagels, but the story is all of her own devising.
In this case, a fire alarm salesman turns up dead by fire in a dodgy hotel. Was it suicide? Or was it murder? Slider and Atherton follow the rapidly cooling trail to the former members of a now-defunct London fire brigade. Curiously, most of them have died in suspicious circumstances, too.
The parallels to Agatha Christie's And Then There Were None are difficult to escape. The question is not just one of whether Bill Slider can catch the murderer before another fireman falls, but who would have the motive to carry out such a spree in the first place? What grudge can one carry against the self-sacrificing members of a fire brigade?
All Miss Lemon can say is that the answer may surprise you.