Books by Dorothy Simpson

DEAD AND GONE by Dorothy Simpson
Released: Feb. 1, 2000

Another of the author's literate explorations of life and death in the town of Sturrenden and environs, where Inspector Luke Thanet and his faithful Sergeant Lineham bear the brunt of infrequent murder investigations (Once Too Often, 1998, etc.). The victim now is Virginia Mintaur'wife of lawyer Ralph, mother of Caroline and Rachel'whose body has been found at the bottom of the decorative well adorning her prized garden. Virginia had disappeared the previous evening while entertaining neighbors Howard and Marilyn Squires; Rachel and tennis coach Matthew Agon, who have just announced their engagement; and Virginia's sister Jane and her boyfriend Arnold Prime. When the postmortem indicates murder, Thanet probes for means and motives. The latter abound as Virginia's many extramarital beaux come to light, among them Squires and Agon, with Prime clearly next in line. There's no love lost, either, between Virginia and Ralph's mother, an acerbic globetrotter who lives in an annex of the Mintaur house. Is there some connection to Caroline's elopement four years ago with the gardener's son Dick Swain, whose witchlike mother still lives nearby'the couple unheard from all this time? Malice and mischief, past and present, provide a wealth of motives until Thanet, besieged by family worries of his own, manages to solve more puzzles than one. Straightforward and absorbing, deftly written and adroitly plotted: another quiet winner for Simpson. Read full book review >
ONCE TOO OFTEN by Dorothy Simpson
Released: Feb. 23, 1998

Filled with misgivings about his daughter's upcoming wedding to a much wealthier (but less obviously committed) fiancÇ, Inspector Luke Thanet can only pray that Bridget's marriage doesn't turn out like Jessica Dander's. That longtime Kent Messenger reporter's unhappy union has come to a suitably abrupt end with her fall down the household staircase. Or was she helped into her final flight—by her dispirited, laid-off husband Desmond Manifest; by her brother-in-law Bernard Covin; by her lover, estate agent Adam Ogilvy; or by the unknown figure she felt convinced was stalking her? Despite the bottom of those stairs becoming the place for what turns out to be a surreptitious parade of interlopers as numerous as the crowd of innocents in any Agatha Christie library, reliable Thanet and his sidekick, Sgt. Mike Lineham, close this modest case by uncovering a 20-year-old secret. In his 14th (A Day for Dying, 1996, etc.), Thanet, as usual, deftly unpeels the layers of unhappy deception shrouding the victim, though the result this time is a surprisingly long-winded anticlimax. Read full book review >
A DAY FOR DYING by Dorothy Simpson
Released: May 1, 1996

Sturrenden's Inspector Luke Thanet and his ever supportive Sergeant Mike Lineham are again investigating a murder in the upper-middle-class environs of town (No Laughing Matter, 1993, etc.). The victim is travel-writer-playboy Max Jeopard, who's found dead, fully clothed, in the swimming pool of hosts Ralph and Marion Sylvester, during a party celebrating Max's engagement to their daughter Tess. Max and Tess have had a stormy, off-on relationship, and the party itself seems to have been less than celebratory—with Max having been slapped by ex-girlfriend Anthea and snubbed by Tess's ex-fiancÇ Gerald Argent, and with the Sylvesters' schizophrenic son Carey having escaped briefly from the care of his nurse Michael Roper. Thanet spots something strange, too, in the relationship of the Sylvesters to their bejewelled, BMW-owning housekeeper Barbara Mallis. The key to it all lies in Max's monumentally selfish, charismatic persona, and Thanet, in one of his intuitive flashes, dredges up a bit of overlooked (but not by the alert reader) evidence and almost reluctantly nails down the culprit. This time out, a rather subdued Thanet goes through his civilized paces, here dealing compassionately with a very contemporary dilemma and adding a thoughtful, readable, slightly tepid case history to the author's respected body of work. Read full book review >
NO LAUGHING MATTER by Dorothy Simpson
Released: Nov. 30, 1993

Sturrenden's Inspector Luke Thanet's 12th case (Wake the Dead, etc.) has him investigating the death of vineyard owner Zak Randish, found in his office amid a welter of blood and broken glass. Interviews with Randish's wife, in-laws, employees, and business associates produce an unsavory picture of a philandering, abusive husband who cheated in business as well. Thanet and loyal sidekick Lineham explore a dozen avenues that lead nowhere. Revelation of motive and solution—when it comes—owes nothing to their efforts. The author is coasting in this one—its piddling contrivances, dull characters, and somnolent pace will win no new fans for the usually reliable Inspector, who, it is to be hoped, will be back on track for number 13. Read full book review >
WAKE THE DEAD by Dorothy Simpson
Released: Nov. 18, 1992

Inspector Thanet and sturdy aide Sergeant Lineham are faced once more with a stubbornly resistant puzzle (Doomed to Die, 1991, etc.)—this time when elderly, autocratic Isobel Fairleigh is found smothered to death in her sickbed while the annual charity fàte surges busily outside, on the grounds of Thaxden Hall. Isobel's coolly handsome son and local MP, Hugo Fairleigh, and his elegant wife Grace share the Hall with Isobel and her ineffectual sister Letty. Thanet pursues his careful interviews round and round, ruling out intruders and exploring a family history that includes the loss of Grace and Hugo's retarded infant son a few years back and Hugo's present involvement with his onetime fiancÇe Pamela Raven. An enigmatic note in Isobel's diary—along with one of Thanet's insightful moments—heads, slowly, to the denouement. Wordy but solidly reasoned plotting and mildly interesting characters provide another in Simpson's leisurely, literate series in the British Traditional mode. Read full book review >
DOOMED TO DIE by Dorothy Simpson
Released: Nov. 1, 1991

Another of Simpson's leisurely, well-crafted police procedurals featuring Inspector Luke Thanet and sidekick Mike Lineham, who are faced here with the murder of gifted artist Perdita Master, found dead on the kitchen floor of Vanessa Broxton's house, a plastic bag over her head. Perdita was in the midst of emotional turmoil—her widowed, remarried mother seriously ill; her own marriage to an insanely possessive husband on the rocks; her affair with neighbor Howard Swain just revealed to his assertive wife. Perdita had agreed to babysit Vanessa's children for a few days, but, as the detectives soon realize, everyone in her life seemed to have turned up at the Broxton house on the fateful night. In the end it's not the complex timetable but Thanet's intuition and thoughtful examination of the victim's troubling paintings and reclusive personality that lead to a well- reasoned if not totally surprising solution. A quietly absorbing addition to a reliable series. Read full book review >