Thursday, March 28, 2013

Political Death by Antonia Fraser

cover of Political Death by Antonia Fraser
I felt in the mood for something completely different. Well, not so completely different that it wasn't a mystery. I picked up Political Death by Antonia Fraser. Political Death was the last book in the Jemima Shore mystery series. Fraser usually wrote historical non-fiction, but for a span of time, she wrote ten mystery books that featured Jemima Shore, investigator reporter. Jemima was one of those strong, modern women who had a life style free of attachments. It's not that Jemima didn't want the man, but just that she seemed to get involved with married men or men who were wedded to their careers. In Political Death, Jemima was just starting research on a project when she met Lady Imogen Swain. Lady Imogen had memories of an incident, but couldn't seem to get the memories verbalized. Lady Imogen had had an affair with Burgo Smyth, a married man who was now Foreign Secretary in Britain. Lady Imogen, in moments of senility, seemed to think she was still in the past, and started to dredge up memories of her time with Smyth and his involvement in the Franklyn Faber affair. Faber had stolen government papers from Smyth, and then during his trial, Faber went missing, presumed to have committed suicide. Both of Lady Imogen's daugthers, Olga (married to Holy Harry an ineffectual politician) and Millie (actress in a Shakespeare play with Randall Birley, hunk) tried to control their mother, but things were getting out of hand. When Lady Imogen threw herself from a high balcony at her home after meeting with Jemima and offering Jemima a plethora of diaries, Jemima turned her hand at investigating the death and the old Faber affair.

The Jemima Shore mysteries are light entertaining mysteries, and Political Death is no different. I was surprised at the twist in the story, and I must admit that I did not see the solution to the Faber disappearance or the death of Lady Imogen. Political Death was written in 1995, and there has not been another Jemima Shore since then. I wish that Fraser wrote more of the stories, but I suppose that I have to be satisfied with the ten that exist. I have some of the past volumes on my to-be-read pile, and I hope to get to them soon!

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