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    Review of DEATH AT ST. JAMES'S PALACE by Deryn Lake


    Allison & Busby, 2002

    Apothecary John Rawlings attends the St. James Palace knighting of his friend and collegue Sir John Fielding thinking that all will be pomp and circumstance. Instead, one of the new knights falls to his death from the stairs. A terrible accident? Rawlings suspects that someone might have given the knight a push. Together with Fielding, Rawlings sets off through the upper crust of Georgian England society to find the truth. There is no lack of suspects. George Goward might have been knighted for his charity, but he left enemies everywhere. No one who knew him much regrets his death. Yet, Rawlings knows his job and the veniality of the victim doesn't impact that.

    Author Deryn Lake has obviously researched the Georgian period and blends plenty of fun historical tidbits into her story. The gardens, champagne breakfasts, and love affairs of the period all ring true. Lake uses a wealth of historical characters to add authenticity and that spark of recognition to her story, starting with Fielding himself, the founder of the Bow Street Runners (beloved in regency romance) and of modern policing.

    An interesting historical period and a clever crime are important ingredients in a mystery. Rawlings, himself, however, is less than sympathetic as a character. He is barely tolerant of his newly pregnant wife, condescending to her wish to mingle with society, ignoring her for days at a time while he runs about his detecting, and openly lusting over other women. Lake also brings in a bit too much coincidence--distracting the reader from the story.

    Two Stars

    Reviewed 5/30/03

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