Saturday, February 13, 2010

A Splash of Red, by Antonia Fraser

This book is number three in the series that features Jemima Shore, writer and star of her own television show, Jemima Shore Investigates  -- a kind of news program. In this installment, Jemima has decided to disappear for a while so that she can get some research done, and is invited to stay in a flat owned by Chloe Fontaine, who is a well-known writer herself. Chloe, it seems, is going off on a short trip to write an article for a trendy magazine, so Jemima can have the place all to herself. No one knows she's there, so it seems perfect.  But not too long after Chloe makes her departure, Jemima receives a mysterious phone call.  And then another. And then she finds out that Chloe has disappeared, and that no one knows where she is.  As Jemima is contemplating all of this strangeness, she happens to return to the flat after some time off to do research at the British Library's reading room, and finds Chloe dead in the bed.  So who killed her? Jemima has plenty of people in mind as suspects and wants to get to the bottom of it all.

This series isn't my favorite, and this book was just okay. Antonia Fraser is a good writer, but she's better at nonfiction, I think. Her novels tend to be a bit wordy.  I never did guess who the culprit was, so that's a plus, but it seemed so long until we actually got around to it that by the end I just really didn't care. That's a minus. The story moved at a rather slow pace, which was very detracting. Plus something bothered me -- there was one character who was quite violent toward Jemima, hitting her, and then she went and made coffee for him. Not real, not even for the time in which it was written, in the 1980s. You'd think someone as intelligent and as independent as Jemima Shore would have raised a stink or acted differently, but no.

I don't know that I'd recommend this book for readers of modern-day mysteries -- the pace is very slow, the solution isn't very satisfying and it's an effort to slog through the over-wordiness of it all. I'll try more of Jemima Shore's adventures (since I have the whole series here), but it may be awhile.

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I don't care what you write, but do be nice about it