A fun new spin-off series…
Author TE Kinsey has created an enjoyable spin-off series with The Deadly Mystery of the Missing Diamonds – the first of what will hopefully be several Dizzy Heights books. Unlike the supposedly quiet country setting for the “parent” Lady Hardcastle books, this new series is unabashedly set in busy Jazz Age London. In addition to being friends of Lady Hardcastle’s and Flo’s, the main characters, Skins and Barty, are musicians in the Dizzy Heights band, and they regularly go to sleep when the rest of the world is waking up. In Missing Diamonds, however, they’ve added a spot of detection to their music-making, at the behest of Lady Hardcastle’s friend, Superintendent Sunderland.
Sunderland has had a hint that the thief (and deserter) who stole a valuable packet of diamonds during World War I may be hanging out at the same club where the Dizzy Heights have a “residency”. So he wants Skins and Barty to just observe a few of the members, learn what they can, and report back. Unfortunately, things don’t stop there, and Blanche, one of the band’s two female members, soon dies. Was it murder? Is it connected to the deserter and the diamonds? Or to the rumors of a hidden treasure at the club? And what is so important about the club’s upcoming dance contest? Skins and Barty, together with Skins’ wife, Ellie, dive deeper into the puzzle, and find a tangled web to un-weave.
I very much enjoyed Missing Diamonds – the setting was well-drawn, the characters were fun, and the plot was a nice mash-up of a mystery and some PG Wodehouse. I read this mostly in one evening and the whole time, I kept expecting to see Jeeves make an appearance… And although it raises a few thorny issues related to the recent war (e.g. desertion, conscientious objection), Missing Diamonds really is a quick-to-read cozy. My only minor issue with the book is that I wished the victim had been someone other than Blanche, but that wasn’t enough to spoil my enjoyment.
Please keep in mind that I give very very few five-star ratings, maybe only one in thirty or forty books I read, so four-stars is a solid “read” recommendation from me. Perhaps the best endorsement is that I’m very much looking forward to the next in the series, which is due to come out in July, 2021! And finally, my thanks to the publisher, Thomas and Mercer, and to NetGalley for the advance review copy.