Friday, September 20, 2013

A SPIDER IN THE CUP by Barbara Cleverly

Love historical mysteries and kudos to Barbara Cleverly for so credibly presenting time, place, and characters.  However, in this eleventh Scotland Yard Assistant Commissioner Joe Sandilands mystery we’re confronted with a rather intricate plot unlike previous Cleverly novels.  Readers may well wonder how in the world all can be tied together but after a bit of meandering it is.

At dawn in June 1933 a group of dowsers are digging along a far stretch of the Thames when they uncover a corpse - the deceased is a woman with a toe missing and a rare gold coin in her mouth.  We quickly move from the river to be reminded of a recent conversation Sandilands had with the Commissioner.  His assignment is to protect U.S. Senator Cornelius Kingstone who is coming to London for the World Economic Conference.  Kingstone is a major player and a close adviser to President Roosevelt.

It has been made clear to Sandilands that Kingstone’s safety is of primary importance to Britain.  The war is behind but Europe has serious economic problems, and this meeting seems divided as it appears that some will side with Germany’s Adolf Hitler.  The political fate of the world is at stake.  Add to this mix Kingstone’s personal FBI bodyguard, William Armiger, a fellow from Sandilands past, and Kingstone’s passion for a ballet dancer.

Before long Kingstone is clearly threatened and his inamorata has disappeared.  There is still the question of the girl found by the Thames - what connection could her death possibly have to a U.S. Senator?  Is it possible that Sandilands who is described as “A bloke who got things done....A man built for speed as well as skill over the jumps” has more than he can handle this time out?

- Gail Cooke

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