Books by Anabel Donald

THE GLASS CEILING by Anabel Donald
Released: Sept. 13, 1995

A third installment in the improbable life of London's fetching, late-20-ish Alex TannerTV researcher and one-woman detective agency (In at the Deep End, 1994, etc.). Downcast by a glitch in her so-far-unconsummated affair with producer Barty O'Neill, Alex cheers up when she finds a neatly packaged dead hamster in her mail, along with a day's fee, a note containing the names of four women, a cryptic threat to smash the glass ceiling, a plea to be stopped, and the self-assigned client's signatureWomun in the Balaclava Helmet. Investigation reveals that the four women had been a feminist quartet at Oxford years ago, naming themselves the Vestal Virgins. Leona Power, first on the list, died a month ago in a car crash. The hamster, it seems, belonged to the small daughter of no-longer-feminist, second-listed Melanie Slater, whose house was recently broken into. Along the way Slater's teenage son, Teddy, hires Alex to find his long-missing father, Edward Webb. Grace Macarthy, still a feminist beacon, seems impervious to the note's implied threat; and Elspeth Driscoll, the only non-Londoner, runs a kennel and small farm in Herefordshire that's soon to be targeted by the notewriter, who leaves behind a decapitated terrier and some nasty graffiti. It all comes to a sad but klutzy climax in the august rooms of the British Museum, leaving the reader to wish that the author's murky, disjointed plotlines were on a par with her pithily drawn characters (like Alex's recently homeless, recently dumb girl assistant, Nick, a math genius) and her blithe, quicksilver writing. Worth the time just for that. Read full book review >
IN AT THE DEEP END by Anabel Donald
Released: Sept. 13, 1994

TV researcher Alex Tanner (An Uncommon Murder, 1993), setting up as a part-time PI, snares an improbably rich (though anonymous) client the first time out: someone willing to go through an intermediary, a plush London lawyer, to have her ascertain the state of mind of Olivier de Sauvigny Desmoulins just before he drowned in the swimming pool at Rissington Abbey, a boarding school. Settling in at the Abbey, which she describes as ``50% boring, 50% spooky,'' under a cover story (she's doing fieldwork for a show profiling headmasters of private schools) that makes for some clumsy moments, sharp-witted Alex soon realizes that it's no ordinary school (it earns its astronomical fees by taking in the refuse of other schools' shores); staffed by no ordinary masters (Olivier's housemaster got his job when he dropped out of the seminary, and his boss, the headmaster, got his job by marrying his own boss's daughter); and that Olivier, a self-possessed sneak with a special interest in eavesdropping, was no ordinary student. Together with the drolly exasperating Watson figure who's glommed onto her, Alex, following in the footsteps of Cordelia Gray (P.D. James's Unsuitable Job for a Woman inspires much of the plot), finds toads at every turn, from Olivier's guilty secret to her client's, until the possibility of murder seems the least of Rissington's problems. An expertly dry-eyed tour of the stiff-upper-lip horrors of Rissington, with Alex as a marvelously acerbic guide. Strongly recommended for those who like their tea cakes tart. Read full book review >
Released: Feb. 24, 1993

Nasty doings among the English gentry as seen through the cynical eyes of free-lance researcher Alex Tanner, whose tough, hard-scrabble life limits her empathy with the upper class. Here, she's been asked to investigate the unsolved murder, some 30 years ago, of Rollo Lord Sherwin, shot to death at Ashtons Hall, the family manse. His pretty, indolent wife Laura, a prime suspect at the time, was never charged. She and Rollo, a notorious womanizer, had four daughters. They were all in residence on the fateful night, along with Laura's teenaged niece Rosalind and her governess, Miss Potter, newly arrived from Kenya. It's Miss Potter, now in her 70s, who's to be Alex's main source of background material for the TV documentary that may be produced in the wake of Laura's recent death. Miss Potter, reserved and fiercely honest, is willing to exchange previously hidden facts about the killing in exchange for Alex's help in finding Toad Mayfield, a granddaughter of Rollo's who's been missing for weeks. The bargain is made—with deadly consequences. Both gritty and poignant, with heroine to match. A steadily absorbing first mystery from the author of Smile, Honey and Poor Dear Charlotte. Read full book review >