Author: Sandra J. Robson

Publisher: Rainbow Books

ISBN 978-1-56825-146-2 (PB)

ISBN 978-1-56825-147-9 (E-pub)

This double whodunit (Who killed the friend? Who fathered the child?) has one of the most successful resolutions I have ever read. There were glimmers of knowing, but no certainty until the very end. Fittingly, the narrator-P.I. sometimes saw things out of the corner of her eye, and other times sensed them.

The novelist sends Keegan Shaw, a Floridian in her forties, on an errand that doesn’t interest her. However the enticement of a free London vacation does. She was there last on a shoestring budget in the 1980s. The woman she is meant to track lived in London in her youth, spending six months of 1966 among artistic types under the influence of drugs, sex, and music. It had ended badly, with her hightailing it to the U.S.A., where she joined a commune and married a fellow communard who accepted her baby and inherited wealth. Now, though she hates flying, something is pulling the well-heeled Mrs. Russell back to London, and Keegan has promised the daughter, who insists on being Keegan’s client, that she will find out why.

The author’s refrain is one that I (among many, I suspect) can relate to. In Keegan’s words: “London, London, you were perfect years ago. Stop changing.” Robson does a credible job of showing us the town, then and now. There are many familiar landmarks and appropriate name dropping to set the stage for both eras, and there is the constant Weather for atmosphere. More importantly, the author has captured the nuances of behavior in people on the make and people on the mend.

In some ways the novel is a classic English country house mystery, but instead of many rooms and passageways, it gives us galleries, hotels, and restaurants in Central London, as well as London modes of transportation, as the large backdrop against which the small cast interacts. Mrs. Russell has returned to the scene of the crime, but for most of the pages we don’t know who killed her flat-mate, or if she knows. We also don’t know with whom she got pregnant, or if she knows. It is looking like a bust for the investigator. It is also looking dangerous. Intriguingly, Mrs. Russell and Keegan Shaw seem most in danger during their trips to the countryside. It, too, has changed; it is not the “green and pleasant land” that people refer to when they need shorthand for describing a more nostalgic version of England.

This is not a great thriller, but it is a good puzzler for people of a certain age, and it is a very thoughtful book. It reminds us of the 1960s, if we are old enough to have experienced that abrupt change in our culture (both sides of the pond). It also reminds us that while we can never go back in time, whatever time that was, we can’t ever run away from our mistakes.

Follow Here To Purchase False as the Day Is Long: A Keegan Shaw Mystery

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