British Bulldog: A Mirabelle Bevan Mystery
British Bulldog is the fourth novel in Sara Sheridan’s mystery series. I hadn’t read any of the previous novels, but it was easy to pick up the gist of the story: in 1950s Brighton, England, Mirabelle Bevan operates a debt recovery agency, but she is not averse to taking on more interesting clients on the side. However, when a solicitor approaches her on a dark evening outside the agency, the case is personal to Mirabelle. She has been left a bequest in a will, by a man she only met twice. In order to obtain her bequest she must first find Philip Caine, a man missing since the war.
British Bulldog is described as a mystery, but as Mirabelle heads to France looking for Caine, it becomes, disappointingly, I felt, more of a spy novel. The characters, plucky Mirabelle and her stolid suitor Superintendent McGregor, were at home in a cosy mystery. But the themes introduced in France, the aftermath of the war, the fate of French women suspected of being Nazi sympathisers, and the overtones of the threat of Stalinism, are more serious. Mirabelle and the Superintendent seem both out of their depths and out of place. There is also no real sub-plot to the novel. Mirabelle is not investigating any other cases, and for most of the book she is separated from other minor characters, like her less sophisticated but determined assistant, Vesta.
The mystery itself is intriguing, and the solution intricate enough that while most readers might guess at part of the answer, it is unlikely that the whole puzzle will be apparent. I would like to go back and read the earlier Mirabelle Bevan mysteries, but only if they are, in fact, mysteries.