2008: 89. The Accomplice

“She had made all the arrangements for her own funeral.  She had interviewed the undertakers and ordered her own coffin.”

The Accomplice, Elizabeth Ironside

I first heard of Ironside in the Bas Bleu catalogue, so when I was at my favorite used bookstore (the Bryn Mawr ladies used bookstore in Georgetown, where you if you buy four you get the fifth book free!) and saw one of her books in the mystery section, I thought, why not?  Particularly when the back cover referred to 1) a skeleton in the garden of a cozy English farmhouse and 2) Revolutionary Russian pasts.  Awesome, right?

And it should have been, but somehow the whole thing didn’t get for me.  Maybe it was the changing perspectives between the characters - some told by Jean Loftus, a recently divorced lawyer who lives with her severely disabled son in the country (and what was the point of all the stuff about Jean’s personal life, given that it went no where? I thought she’d end up with someone (either the inspector or perhaps Ivor, the grandson) that was where it was going, and that whole angle just petered out), Zita the elderly woman hiding her tortured past in the Russian Revolution, and Xenia, the Russian exchange student with grand desires, and criminal intent, which made it hard to care about any of the three.  What really turned me off was the Xenia character - she was so unlikeable, which is bad enough, but more seriously, her crimes were told to us straight out, which took the whole mystery element out of the last part of the book. I think I’d have enjoyed it more if Xenia was more of a cipher - if we didn’t know if she was good or bad or what, until the end. Then the ending would have popped, instead of just sitting there.  And yet, I’d probably read other books by Ironside - at least one, because she does have insight into characters, and a more tightly plotted novel would probably be pretty good.


Date/Place Completed: 6/12/08; D.C.

Categories: Fiction

© Carrie Dunsmore 2017