It’s a Mystery: Where Death Delights, by Bernard Knight

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My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Where Death Delights is a new mystery about a pathologist written by a pathologist, set in 1955 in the west country of  England. Following his recent divorce, Richard Pryor has left government service in Singapore to set up a private practice in the newly emerging field of forensics.  Pryor and his new partner partner, biologist Angela Bray, also on the rebound, set up their labs in the rambling house that he has inherited from an aunt. Neither is certain of the success of their new and risky venture, so both are relieved when cases begin to come their way. Most are fairly routine,  but one, the discovery of a skeleton, which two women are claiming as relatives, is interesting and challenging. Within a few days, they are also contacted by a prominent London QC who suspects that the death of his daughter, ruled a suicide by the coroner, is actually a cleverly planned murder executed by his philandering son-in-law.

Don’t expect the caustic scenarios of a Patricia Cornwell from this novel. Rather, it is a sort of  medical procedural that just misses classification in the cozy mystery genre. That does not mean the book is not worth reading. On the contrary, despite the absence of violence and gore, it’s fun to follow Pryor as he applies the new forensic techniques (deriving blood type from bones, for instance) to his first puzzling cases. There are a few confusing moments trying to keep the bits of evidence separate from each other, and, while one of the puzzles is brought to a satisfying solution, the other is not. There are also hints that Pryor is developing romantic feelings for his partner and also his attractive, widowed housekeeper, but those have yet to blossom.

A promising beginning to a new series, hopefully one in which these characters have a chance to grow.

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