DOROTHY SIMPSON – Wake the Dead. Luke Thanet #11. Charles Scribner’s Sons, hardcover, 1992. Bantam Crimeline, paperback, 1993. First published in the UK by Michael Joseph, hardcover, 1992.

   Simpson’s Luke Thanet books are on my “mildly enjoyable” list. She’s a decent though not outstanding writer, and Thanet, with one exception that I’ll mention later, is an amiable enough detective. Put that together with my general fondness for British village mysteries, and I usually enjoy them.

   A local aristocrat’s bed-ridden mother dies during an annual fête, and the police surgeon (who is attending it) alerts Thanet (who is there also) that in his his opinion it is likely to prove murder by asphyxiation. With bluebloods and several hundred potential suspects, Thanet’s work is cut out for him. Before the investigation gets too far, the MP, his wife, his mistress, and a disgruntled local lady all seem to have motive and opportunity. The dead woman was remarkably ill thought of.

   Thanet is assisted as always by his trusty Sergeant, Mike Lineham. His avuncular patronization of poor Mike is the one consistently sour note in Thanet’s characterization. Wife Joan, daughter Bridget, and son Ben are always part of the books — here, a sub-plot is Bridget’s budding romance is a young man of whom Thanet is dubious. This is an old-fashioned village mystery, with decent, engaging characters. If you tire of the grimmer angst-filled variety, ot will make a nice change of pace.

— Reprinted from Fireman, Fireman, Save My Books #4, November 1992.

Bibliographic Note:   There were in all 15 Luke Thanet novels, beginning with The Night She Died in 1981 and ending with Dead and Gone in 1999. For a full list and a wide array of cover images, check out the Fantastic Fiction website.