Monday, 4 January 2010

Death is the Cure by Nicola Slade


Nicola Slade does atmosphere well; a short way into Death is the Cure I became aware that she had caught the buzz of the Pump Rooms in Bath exactly, and I was there with Charlotte Richmond and her friends as they tried the (revolting) spa waters. Charlotte, a young widow, has accompanied her dear friend Elaine to Bath while she undergoes a Faraday cure, latest in the fashionable Victorian flirtation with electrical treatments. While Elaine is busy “sizzling”, as she puts it, Charlotte is at liberty, guidebook in hand, to explore the town – not so elegant as it had been in Jane Austen’s day, but especially interesting as she hopes there may be clues to her own background. For Charlotte is not quite the quiet and grieving widow she appears to be, but the daughter of a young woman transported to Australia and, while she would like to trace her mother’s origins, she is less than keen that they should be widely known. And she’s not alone – several of her fellow guests at the respectable Bath establishment where they are staying look uncomfortable when the sharp and inquisitive Mr Jonas Tibbins seems to suggest that they might have secrets. Before long, Charlotte stumbles across a body…

Charlotte is a very believable heroine – she is warm, practical, prone to giggles, and thoroughly good company. She’s not above considering her own interests when indulging in a bit of matchmaking, and quite prepared to admit that there are people she doesn’t like; indeed, she is thoroughly pragmatic about the other guests (inmates, as she drily thinks of them) and tolerant of – if amused by – their foibles. She and Elaine are quick to see the funny side, so that you know their company would be readily sought by the other guests – indeed, there is much of Jane Austen about these two women, in their intelligence and humour, but Charlotte is necessarily more modern and resourceful than Lizzy Bennet, used to living by her wits…hmm, perhaps more than a touch of the Heyer heroines, too?

This is the second time Charlotte has appeared – the first was in Murder Most Welcome – and I really look forward to her next foray into detection. With her independent spirit I can see her doing a good deal more travelling, her status as a widow giving her leeway to investigate all kinds of skulduggery, and you can be sure she’ll find allies (and readers!) wherever she goes.

10 comments:

  1. This sounds like a book I'd enjoy! You wrote: "perhaps more than a touch of the Heyer heroines", and Heyer is exactly what I thought when I started reading your description.
    I am now going to check the online catalogue of my town's library to see if they have any Nicola Slade there.
    Thanks for the recommendation!

    ReplyDelete
  2. Oh yes, do - it's only just been published here, but you might get the first in the series.

    ReplyDelete
  3. I love the sound of this book! I'm off to check my library too! Thanks so much for the review. Plus, I really want to go to Bath one day!

    ReplyDelete
  4. My copy is on order. I can't wait! It sounds like it's going to be as much fun as 'Murder Most Welcome'. What I love about Nicola's writing is her wit and panache and the fact that underneath the 'froth' lies a great deal of meticulous research and attention to detail. But it's never laboured. That, to me, is one sign of a good writer.

    ReplyDelete
  5. Geranium Cat, you're a star! That's a lovely review and I'm so pleased you enjoyed the book. I'm even more impressed that you spotted the Heyer echoes and chuffed to bits that you think Charlotte and Elaine are a bit like Austen women. (Right from the start, with 'Murder Most Welcome', I set out to try and write a Victorian version in the style of the Heyer history-cum-mysteries such as 'The Quiet Gentleman', which I love.)

    Librarian and Susan: your library might be persuaded to buy copies if you ask nicely!

    ReplyDelete
  6. I'm about to start reading this - just as soon as the Christmas fallout is cleared

    ReplyDelete
  7. Is this a modern book? I haven't come across the author and the cover doesn't help in this respect. I can always do with a book that catches the buzz of the Pump Rooms. Anything that makes me think of a decent afternoon tea!

    ReplyDelete
  8. This review sounded so good, that I checked out my local library's online catalogue, they have Murder Most Welcome in stock so I've made the reservation.

    ReplyDelete
  9. I keep hearing about Nicola Slade, I'm going to have to give in and investigate I think, as your review makes the book/series sound like a lot of fun.

    ReplyDelete