Friday, June 21, 2024

Death of an Old Girl

Death of an Old Girl / Elizabeth Lemarchand
London: Sapere Books, 2018, c1967.
281 p.

This is the first book in the Pollard & Toye series, although I have not read these in order. I started with a random discovery of book 2 (The Affacombe Affair), then looked up what else was in my online library. I really enjoyed this first one. 

It's set in at the Meldon Girls School, a setting I always find interesting. Specifically, it takes place during the weekend long Meldon Girls School’s annual festival and Old Girls reunion. This means there are current students as well as many former ones ("Old Girls") on the grounds the entire weekend, and a lot going on to distract from regular routine. 

Beatrice Baynes is an Old Girl, but she hasn't gone far. She lives nearby and is a busybody who tries to influence the school to going back to running the way it did in her time -- very old fashioned ways, of course. It's funny that it was written in the 60s, feels like it was set still earlier, and yet the complaints of "young people these days" and their lack of educational mettle are still the same kind of things we hear today! 

In any case, Beatrice has annoyed a lot of people, from school administrators, to her inheritance-waiting nephew, to other Old Girls and locals alike. She's interfering and controlling and someone has had enough -- Beatrice is murdered and hidden away in a puppet theatre, to be found much later. It's an undignified way to go and she would have hated that. 

The local police aren't used to quite so grotesque events so Pollard and Toye from Scotland Yard make their appearance. They investigate nearly everyone, from obvious to just potential suspects. Here's where I find Lemarchand's mystery writing falls down a bit. Pollard and Toye are methodical, almost too much so. They go off together after every scene to write down and talk over the case, and the reader must hear it all. It's plodding and a bit dull, and feels unimaginative. It also kind of kills the momentum, and I found this technique in all 3 of the novels in this series that I've read. 

Nonetheless, the conclusion and the truth revealed is rather exciting, and very unexpected. It has a bit of glamour and also melodrama, and makes for a fine finish. I liked this one the best of the three so far, maybe because of the setting, and all the intriguing women you find because of it. I'm not sure I'll make a huge effort to find more of her books though. 

No comments:

Post a Comment

Thanks for stopping by ~ I always enjoy hearing your comments so please feel free to leave some!