RogerBW's Blog

Matricide at St Martha's, Ruth Dudley Edwards 16 January 2019

1994 mystery, fifth in the Robert Amiss series. Amiss is recruited by his old friend "Jack" Troutbeck, Bursar of St Martha's College in Cambridge, to help her sort out the politics of how a bequest will be used. Of course, some people have strong and murderous feelings about that.

But first we have to endure a lot of tedious claptrap about "political correctness", all the stories that were made up to sell right-wing newspapers and then discredited; anyone arguing for more study of female writers in this book is a third-rate scholar or simply out for a power grab, because there's no legitimate reason why anyone would be interested in Aphra Behn, all black lesbians are regarded as great irrespective of their actual virtues, and anyone arguing for less hurtful language is just a fascist who wants to control people. I held my nose and ploughed on.

The factions are the Virgins (trying to do some actual scholarship), the Dykes (right-on lefties), and the Old Women (the few male Fellows, who simply want to increase their own comfort). They're all fairly straightforward, and unlike the previous couple of books there's little effort this time to make them more complex and real behind the stereotypes (with one exception, one of the Dykes who turns out to be an actual person really).

Apart from all the warm fuzzies for readers of the Daily Telegraph, it works pretty well; a particularly incompetent policeman returns from earlier books, there's lots of interviewing of suspects, and the Bursar herself (while obviously a wish-fulfilment figure in some respects) does at least have a sense of getting some enjoyment out of life which is largely missing from Amiss, the nominal lead.

'No thanks to you I'm not dead; you nearly broke my neck.'

'All you youngsters nowadays seem to want to be treated like Dresden,' she said contemptuously.

'Well, you are certainly putting up a pretty good imitation of Bomber Command.'

As before in this series, one can speculate with some direction, but there is no possibility of a definitive identification of the murderer before the revelation.

There's obvious homage to Gaudy Night here, but one gets the feeling that Dudley Edwards hasn't quite grasped the joy to be found in scholarship, though she's aware that it can be valued highly. Still, Jack makes this a great improvement on the previous book. Series recommended by Gus; followed by Ten Lords A-Leaping.

[Buy this at Amazon] and help support the blog. ["As an Amazon Associate, I earn from qualifying purchases."]

Previous in series: Clubbed to Death | Series: Robert Amiss | Next in series: Ten Lords A-Leaping

Comments on this post are now closed. If you have particular grounds for adding a late comment, comment on a more recent post quoting the URL of this one.

Tags 1920s 1930s 1940s 1950s 1960s 1970s 1980s 1990s 2000s 2010s 3d printing action advent of code aeronautics aikakirja anecdote animation anime army astronomy audio audio tech aviation base commerce battletech beer boardgaming book of the week bookmonth chain of command children chris chronicle church of no redeeming virtues cold war comedy computing contemporary cornish smuggler cosmic encounter coup covid-19 crime crystal cthulhu eternal cycling dead of winter doctor who documentary drama driving drone ecchi economics en garde espionage essen 2015 essen 2016 essen 2017 essen 2018 essen 2019 essen 2022 essen 2023 existential risk falklands war fandom fanfic fantasy feminism film firefly first world war flash point flight simulation food garmin drive gazebo genesys geocaching geodata gin gkp gurps gurps 101 gus harpoon historical history horror hugo 2014 hugo 2015 hugo 2016 hugo 2017 hugo 2018 hugo 2019 hugo 2020 hugo 2021 hugo 2022 hugo 2023 hugo 2024 hugo-nebula reread in brief avoid instrumented life javascript julian simpson julie enfield kickstarter kotlin learn to play leaving earth linux liquor lovecraftiana lua mecha men with beards mpd museum music mystery naval noir non-fiction one for the brow opera parody paul temple perl perl weekly challenge photography podcast politics postscript powers prediction privacy project woolsack pyracantha python quantum rail raku ranting raspberry pi reading reading boardgames social real life restaurant reviews romance rpg a day rpgs ruby rust scala science fiction scythe second world war security shipwreck simutrans smartphone south atlantic war squaddies stationery steampunk stuarts suburbia superheroes suspense television the resistance the weekly challenge thirsty meeples thriller tin soldier torg toys trailers travel type 26 type 31 type 45 vietnam war war wargaming weather wives and sweethearts writing about writing x-wing young adult
Special All book reviews, All film reviews
Produced by aikakirja v0.1