Reviews by L. J. Roberts

ALEXIA GORDON – Death in D Minor. Gethsemane Brown #2. Henery Press, hardcover, July 2017.

First Sentence: He showed up two days after Christmas.

   Conductor and violinist Gethsemane Brown loves the cottage in Ireland where she lives, and is determined to save it from the hotel developer working hard to buy it. Were that not enough, her museum curator brother-in-law is coming for a visit hoping to buy a unique American cross-stitch sampler. Instead, he ends up dealing with the world of fake and stolen antiques and accused of theft, and possibly of murder. Hoping for help from her favorite ghost, Gethsemane accidentally, or not, calls up the spirit of an 18th century sea captain who once knew the girl who stitched the famous sampler.

   Gordon’s style and voice are such a pleasure to read. She doesn’t take one’s time up with an unnecessary prologue, but starts the story at the start. She doesn’t fill space with pages of background exposition, but provides the information as part much of the information as part of an early conversation, and as the story progresses.

   Her introduction of characters makes them come to life— “Gethsemane recognized the baritone and greeted An Garda Síochána Inspector Iollan O’Reilly. His trademark stingy-brimmed fedora pulled low against the wind, obscured his salt-and-pepper hair.” Her introduction of Gethsemane’s brother-in-law also leads to a conversation about a letter providing background of the crime.

   The dialogue is sharp, natural— “Being out here’s not so bad. Fresh air, beautiful view. And it could be worse. I could be playing flunky to a megalomaniacal narcissist with the aesthetic sensibility of a toddler beauty pageant coordinator.” –and immediately informs one that this is not, in fact, a cozy, but a traditional mystery.

   For those who do needlework, the story will bring joy to the heart— “Textiles belong in the fine art realm as much as paintings do, even if they don’t get nearly the same respect…. People don’t appreciate the quality because the stitching was often done on utilitarian items.”

   There is also an interesting comparison of Irish history to black history. These are only small pieces of things one learns through Gordon. One might wish Gordon to be more specific as to which movement of Beethoven’s “Pathétique” Gethsemane hears in her head as a warning of trouble, but that’s being very picky.

   Death in D Minor is a delightful read. But then, how can one go wrong with music, murder, art, and a ghost.

Bibliographic Note:   Alexia Gordon’s first book, Murder in G Major (2016) won the Lefty Award for Best Debut Novel and was nominated for the Agatha Award for Best First Novel.

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