OXFORD BLOOD by Antonia Fraser


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Fun and games among the English landed gentry, as observed by TV personality-sleuth Jemina Shore (Quiet as a Nun, etc.), who's called on to hear the confession of dying nurse Elsie Connolly--a confession about her part in the substitutions of a healthy baby for the dead infant born to Lord and Lady St. Ives. Now 20 years old, the baby, Oxford student Lord Saffron, is a spoiled heir to a fortune, a title, and historic manse Saffron Ivy, and is having doubts about his roots--doubts planted by nurse Elsie. He also suspects that someone's out to kill him--not totally surprising in view of his behavior. Saffron enlists Jemima's help in trying to find his enemy. She's already involved in Megalith TV's projected exploration of ""Golden Kids"" at Oxford and soon meets Saffron's neighbor Professor Mossbanker (Proffy), who juggles a wife and eight children with a longtime mistress--classics-scholar Eugenia Jones, whose fey daughter Tiggy (nee Antigone) is engaged to Saffron. Then there are Jack and Fanny Iverstone, offspring of Saffron's racist politician-cousin Andrew, along with various cutely nicknamed students. Sandwiched between balls, parties, fancy lunches and encounters in bed and on the tennis courts are two murders and a near miss. A study of blood types and some old gossip help Jemima get the relationships straightened out. But the murderer's identity almost escapes her. Nebulous motivation might explain why. A prime collection of well-drawn eccentrics partly compensates for the author's wearingly brittle sprightliness.

Pub Date: Sept. 30th, 1985
Publisher: Norton