ANABEL DONALD – An Uncommon Murder. St. Martin’s Press, hardcover, 1993. First published in the UK: Macmillan, hardcover, 1992.


   The inside back flap says Anabel Donald is the author of three previous novels, and lives in England and France. Nothing else. The back cover is completely blank. No other books are listed in the front. Who is this woman, and why doesn’t St. Martin’s want us to know more about her?

   Alex Tanner is a freelance television researcher in London. She’s prickly, a bastard from a lower-class background, raised in foster homes, and with a crazy mother. She stumbles upon an old woman who was a governess in a household which was involved in a high society murder some forty years ago; coincidentally (?) it’s a case on which a producer for whom she works regularly is considering doing a documentary. He hires her to research the background, and she begins investigating.

   This is quite a well written book. The story moves along nicely, and while I wouldn’t call the cast of characters enthralling, they were interesting enough to hold my attention.

   I did get more than a bit fed up with the heroine’s attitude and hang-ups. As a matter of fact, I’m getting damned tired of four of five female leads being anywhere from half screwed up to absolutely neurotic. Is it déclassé to be be well-adjusted, or what? Are reasonably normal people too dull to serve as leads? Well?

   Subject of tirade aside, it was a decent book.

— Reprinted from Ah, Sweet Mysteries #9, September 1993.

Bio-Bibliographic Notes: Some 18 years later, it’s easy to use Google and come up with answers. From the Fantastic Fiction website comes the following information:

    “Anabel Donald has been writing fiction since 1982 when her first novel, Hannah at Thirty-Five, was published to great critical acclaim. In her thirty-six-year teaching career she has taught adolescent girls in private boarding schools, a comprehensive and an American university. Most recently, she has written the five Alex Tanner crime novels in the Notting Hill series.”

       The Alex Tanner series —

1. An Uncommon Murder (1992)
2. In at the Deep End (1993)


3. The Glass Ceiling (1994)


4. The Loop (1996)
5. Destroy Unopened (1999)


   Neither of the last two have been published in the US.

   As for Barry’s tirade, as he described it, Alex Tanner must really have been an off-the-wall character for him to have gone off the way he did. Most recurring detective story characters are eccentric, unusual or different in one way or another, not so?