Buried in the Country

Written by Carola Dunn
Review by Judith Starkston

Fourth in her Cornish mystery series, Buried in the Country takes place in the loosely delineated 1960s-70s—the modern world, but one where British mores are still formal and cell phones and police hi-tech don’t exist. There are two “sleuths.” One’s an amateur, Eleanor Trewynn, an older widow who traveled the world for an international charity and retired to a quiet village. Eleanor is broadminded and armed with aikido, so her mild old-lady appearance hides a formidable if absent-minded heroine. She stumbles more than deduces her way to clues or criminals. Her niece, Detective Sergeant Megan Pencarrow, carries the police procedural strand.

Interwoven in the criminal activity is an international problem—bringing Ian Smith’s Rhodesia into respectful coexistence with its majority black population. Two black university students whom the British government hope will help with that process get involved in solving the crimes, much to the consternation of the diplomats.

The dialogue effectively reflects the classes involved. Lady Georgina asks Eleanor rather formally, “Would you mind frightfully if I deserted you for half an hour?” The low-life criminal asks a con-man, “How much a week are blowing on the Devil’s wheel, mate?” The tension picks up during a car chase and desperate search on the misty moors, but overall the novel keeps to a gentle pace.