Murder at the Ashmolean (Museum Mysteries)

Written by Jim Eldridge
Review by Douglas Kemp

This is the third in the series in which Daniel Wilson and his partner (in both the professional and romantic meanings), Abigail Fenton, investigate murders and other disturbances at one of the nation’s foremost museums. This time it is the turn of the Ashmolean in Oxford, in 1895. Gavin Everett, described as a “senior executive” at the museum (but he is a curator, and this is the term that should have been employed by the characters in the novel), has seemingly committed suicide in his office. Wilson & Fenton have been requested by the Ashmolean to look into the circumstances of this shocking event. It soon becomes apparent that this was not suicide and that Everett was murdered. While the local police have been told to back off their investigations, ordered to do so for some puzzling reason by high-level political pressure, our detective duo are free to find out what happened, and why. The astute reader sees that this route might lead them into some dangerous waters, which includes coming up against the maleficent engagement of London’s Special Branch.

The story rumbles along pleasantly, with the now-familiar two leading characters engaging the attention of the reader. Occasionally, the dialogue is a little pedestrian, with the reader being informed of events that he or she is already familiar with a little too often, and the denouement is rather uninspiring. Nevertheless, an enjoyable and entertaining story.