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Saturday, December 26, 2020


If you want pure escapism, that’s what it is. (Review by Margaret von Klemperer, courtesy of the Witness)

I was glad to pick up a light read while people were crashing around on the roof repairing hail damage, and Murder on Mustique looked like a good idea. However, it is a peculiar book.

Anne Glenconner scored a hit with the entertaining Lady in Waiting, her memoir of the many years she spent as lady in waiting to Princess Margaret and the story of her own marriage and life on the Caribbean island of Mustique, owned by her unstable husband. Now she has taken Mustique as the setting for a murder story and the central character is a former lady in waiting to Princess Margaret and a woman whose unstable husband owns the island.

The chapters centring on Lady Vee Blake are in the first person: the author and her character are oddly interchangeable.

Lady Vee has headed off to Mustique to arrange a birthday party for her goddaughter, Lily, who is living there and trying to save the coral reef. But members of Lily’s circle, wealthy and entitled young socialites, are being bumped off at an alarming rate, and it seems that the only people who can solve the crimes are Lady Vee herself and the island’s sole policeman, who owes Lady Vee for his education – at Oxford no less. If it seems unlikely that an Oxford educated cop would be policing a privately owned island, well...suspend disbelief. There’s more to come.

As threatening messages, bodies and voodoo symbols mount up, the very rich and hedonistic party on, and tropical storm Christobal comes ever nearer to the island, preventing anyone from getting in or out. So Lady Vee, in between organising wakes and parties and attending to her make-up and smart pale linen outfits, takes on the bad guys. She may be getting on, but she’s handy at combat, armed and unarmed.

Things rollick along to their storm-tossed conclusion. It’s unlikely and depicts a world that certainly doesn’t exist for the vast majority of people on the planet. But if you want pure escapism, that’s what it is.

Murder on Mustique by Anne Glenconner is published by Hodder& Stoughton - Margaret von Klemperer