The Daily Bongo

Snobbery With Violence

I just finished reading Snobbery With Violence by Marion Chesney. Ms. Chesney has written a large number of mystery books as M.C. Beaton, and romance books as Marion Chesney. The mystery books are the Hamish Macbeth and Agatha Raisin series. Hamish Macbeth is a Scottish Highlands police office in a small little village called Lochdubh. Hamish is an interesting character because he's not well liked by his supervisors because he appears to be on the lazy side, yet still manages to show up his bosses by correctly solving the mystery. Agatha Raisin is an older woman, but she's not your typical sweet old lady sleuth. Agatha has plenty of human flaws, the biggest being arrogant and conceited. There's something pathetic about her at times. I'm not always keen on the way Agatha throws herself at men, but the Agatha Raisin series has a good sense of humor. I like both series, so I figured I would give Snobbery with Violence a try.

The book is the first in the Edwardian mystery series that features Lady Rose Summer and Captain Harry Cathcart. In case you aren't familiar with the time period, the Edwardian period is named after King Edward the VII of Great Britain, the son of Queen victoria. That places it in the time around the beginning of the twentieth century. Edward was King from 1901 to 1910. The time period is one in which there is a good deal of change in the country. The society is moving from the more repressive era of Queen Victoria, and moving on to the more pleasure loving society of Edward. Just around the corner is the first World War which will change the country forever. In Edwardian times, there was still a class divide between the upper class, middle class and lower class, and this is very evident in Snobbery With Violence.

In the book, Captain Harry Cathcart comes back from the Boer War with an injury. He feels out of place with society, and his experience in the war has left Harry in a bitter, taciturn mood. Because he is part of the upper class, he has some contacts, and one of those, recommends Harry to the Earl of Hadshire who is concerned that the man romancing his only daughter Lady Rose Summer has ill intensions. Harry offers his services for a price, and finds that the man, Sir Geoffrey, hopes to win a bet by having his way with Lady Rose, who is getting a reputation as a overly intelligent, sufferagette supporter. Harry tells the Earl, and Lady Rose finds out. Lady Rose outs Sir Geoffrey, and finds that the reputation that is sullied is her own. Lady Rose now ostracized by society, and hates Harry because she thinks that he is the person responsible for her downfall. Harry, however, finds himself high in demand as a person who can confidentially take care of problems for the upper classes. When Lady Rose is sent to a house party were a death occurs, who should appear to cover up the death, but Harry. However, Harry quickly comes to realize that this isn't a case of accidental death but of murder. With the help of Harry's man servant, Beckett, and Lady Rose and her maid, Daisy, Harry tries to solve the murder before more deaths occur.

I have to admit that I did like Snobbery With Violence. The book was entertaining. It's not very humorous, but it does have a nice comfortable feeling about it. The book is not a lengthy one, and it is a quick read. I found myself hoping for the best for Lady Rose. The real heroes of the story though are Beckett and Daisy, who despite their lower class beginnings, have more sense and integrity than most of those in the upper classes. The dynamic between Lady Rose and Daisy is great. We have the educated Lady Rose who isn't very street smart, and the street smart Daisy who doesn't know how to read or write. Both get to learn from each other, and move beyond the constraints of employer and servant to become friends. I found myself at the end hoping for the best for Harry and Lady Rose, but that will have to wait for other books in the series. As for the mystery itself, I have to admit that I didn't figure out whodunit until it was revealed at the end. Ms. chesney does a good job of leading the reader while presenting all the clues that should let the reader know that she is making a trip down the garden path. I have the second book in the series, Hasty Death next up in my TBR (to be read) pile. I would recommend this book strongly to anyone who wants a quick and entertaining book with a good mystery.

May 16, 2005