Title: Hell Bay By Will Thomas
Publisher: Minotaur Books 304 pp. October 2016
Genre: mystery, English historical, series, fiction
This is the 8th in the Barker and Llewelyn series written by Will Thomas, an author from Oklahoma. I have avidly followed this historical mystery series, eagerly awaiting each installment. I have never been disappointed from Some Danger Involved to the last Anatomy of Evil and would recommend reading them in order. This is not the usual gritty crime ridden streets of Victorian London tamed by Barker, but a well written closed room mystery with personal development.
Private enquiry agent extraordinaire and scotsman Cyrus Barker agrees to his least favorite assignment, security. A secret conference at the private estate of Lord Hargrave on a remote island, Godolphin, off the coast of Cornwall will negotiate a new treaty with France. The cover story for the gathering is a house party--an attempt to introduce two unmarried sons to potential mates. Nothing like a little intrigue to determine true colours.
But almost immediately Lord Hargrave is killed by a sniper, and the French ambassador’s head of security is stabbed to death. Trapped in the manor house with no means off the island, Barker and his Welsh assistant, Thomas Llewelyn, must determine which among them is the killer(s) while also uncovering family secrets and motives. It has a satisfactory ending, with rapid page turning!
If you like Sherlock Holmes, or manor house mysteries. Quotes: Everything was falling into chaos everywhere. Standards were no longer being met, and so they lowered the standards, rather than getting at the root of the problem, which was lazy boys. Quite probably, he died feeling no pain whatsoever, which, considering how much he had inflicted on others during his many years, doesn’t exactly seem fair. We all make mistakes, of course, even the best of us. Some of us are famous for them. We’re like that, Cyrus Barker and I: chalk and cheese. If something interests one of us, it probably won’t interest the other. One cannot go anywhere without being questioned about everything. One is asked about one’s relatives, one’s political views, private history, and personal references. One engages in small talk. Do I look like the sort of person who enjoys engaging in small talk?....If I have to endure a week of sweetmeats and polite conversation, I’m liable to set back Anglo-French relations all by myself.” The colonel smiled, revealing a full set of ivory teeth that had looked better on the elephant. To my mind, nothing said that we were staying in an actual castle more than the fact that the dining table seated twenty. It was not a number of tables put together, or even two smaller ones abutted, but one table... “The bullet passed right through my hand,” Fraser said. “That will not improve my rheumatism.” We were impressed. The man at seventy-three was making jokes about having just been shot. Nobody ever talks about a brooding Pole or a brooding Chinaman, but Scotsmen are known for it. It was good that the weather was too warm for a fire to stare into or there would be no word from him all day. You work for a man for six years and then one day he hands you a death sentence. I recalled the Llewelyn luck: everything bad that can happen to one probably shall, and yet one will not die from it, as that would end the torment too quickly. No self-respecting Scotsman would be without his skean dhu. She could have given the sun lessons in how to shine.