RogerBW's Blog

Who Saw Her Die?, Patricia Moyes 22 October 2022

1970 mystery, ninth in the series about Superintendent Henry Tibbett. An old woman who was a Bright Young Thing between the wars thinks her life is in danger, and asks for Tibbett to be her food-taster – and with all the old "friends" who are now powerful people, she can get him. So he's right there when she drops dead…

Parts of this book feel as though Moyes was trying for a locked-room mystery. Tibbett has eaten and drunk all the same things as the victim, and they're all the same things she has for her birthday every year, so how can she have been killed? Indeed, was there a murder at all?

Well, since her three horrible daughters will now be sharing the fortune that her late husband locked up so that she couldn't fritter it away, probably. But it's all a bit more clinical than the usual run of Moyes; her greatest strength, for me, is her people, and here they're almost entirely unsympathetic.

What makes up for that, though, is the way Tibbett's wife Emmy is involved at every stage of the investigation; I've felt she's been rather poorly treated in some of these books, but here she's very much a partner with her own set of skills (she's better at reading emotions and putting some sorts of information together). Moreover, there's a very interesting side character. Rather a lot of the plot does perhaps depend on a particular obscure technical point, but Moyes is clearly having such fun with hanging a locked-room story on it that I forgive her.

One of the stronger books in this series.

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Previous in series: Death and the Dutch Uncle | Series: Henry Tibbett | Next in series: Season of Snows and Sins

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