Tuesday, July 12, 2011

The Durham Deception

The Durham Deception: A Cathedral Mystery
Philip Gooden
Severn House
ISBN: 978-0-399-15722-6
248 pages
Fiction, Newlyweds, Lawyers, Mediums, Magicians, Murder Investigations, 19th Century

Sometimes the only way to stop a family member from doing something possibly stupid is by an intervention from a family member, even in nineteenth century England. That is the situation for newlywed Helen Ansell and her husband, Tom.

Helen’s aunt, Julia, lives in Durham, away from the rest of the family in London. Julia, although never married, managed to make many fortunate investments in her younger days, and now money is not a concern. Julia is fascinated by an older gentleman who is a medium for those dearly departed from their loved ones. Can Helen stop her spinster aunt from marrying this fraud?

Conveniently, Tom has also been sent to Durham on an assignment as a young lawyer. He is to meet with the stage magician, Major Sebastian Marmont who wants an affidavit verifying his ownership of an unusual and valuable weapon, the Lucknow Dagger. Both Helen and Tom are pleased when their purposes coincide.

This was a logical and intricate mystery that was not predictable but was easy to follow. Especially outstanding were the references to life in the 1800s such as working with the gaslights. This allowed a true picture into the daily life of this time period.

The story is a well-written page turner. The characters are believable and the references within the setting were true to the time period. The mystery is fast –paced while still being plausible. Added to that are the intricate details important which support the setting.

Being The Durham Deception is the second book of Philip Gooden’s Cathedral series, many readers might be hesitant because many important elements in character development and relationships are only in a first novels. This particular novel is easy to understand without having read the first one.

Philip Gooden has written two separate mystery series. So far, he has six novels in the Shakespearean Murder Mystery series, and two in this Cathedral series. Originally The Durham Deception was published in England in 2008 as The Durham Disappearance. He has also written The Mammoth Book of Literary Anecdotes, The Open Door: and other Ghost Stories, Faux Pas, Who’s Whose?, Name Dropping: A No-Nonsense Guide to the Use of Names in Everyday Language, and The Story of English: How the English Language Conquered the World.

The Durham Deception is a delightful quick mystery. Personally, I plan to read other novels by this British novelist.

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