ELLIS PETERS – Black Is the Color of My True-Love’s Heart. Felse family # 7. Collins, UK, hardcover, 1967. Morrow, US, hardcover, 1967. Mysterious Press, US, paperback, 1992.

   Dominic Felse, son of Detective Inspector George Felse, and his girl fiend Tossa Barbar, are attending a folk music seminar at a neo-Gothic mansion called Follymead. Its director is Edward Arundale, who lives there with his wife. Arundale, however, plans to be away the weekend of the folkmusic seminar.

   Among the music stars attending is the popular Lucian Galt, but an unexpected guest is female folk singer Uri Palmer, who recently split up with Lucien. On the first night she sings a variation on the old folk song that is the novel’s title. The next afternoon, Uri and Lucien (as well as Dominic and Tossa) elect to remain at Follymead rather then go on one of the guided tours of the area.

   Walking around the grounds, Dominic and Tossa come to the area near the river where Felicity, Arundale’s niece who had a crush on Lucien, had left him. They discover signs of a struggle and decide to contact Dominic’s father, who comes down to do a quiet investigation. The next day a body is pulled from the water but it isn’t Lucien’s; it’s Arundale’s.

   I’ve never had the urge to read any of the Medieval mysteries that raised Ms. Peters to the top rung of mystery writers. However, I’ve read a couple of the early Felse novels, and enjoyed them. This one was fun, even though I figured out the solution well before the end.

— Reprinted from The Hound of Dr. Johnson #18, March 2002.