Murder at the Ritz (Hotel Mysteries 1)
The author is a prolific writer and has embarked upon another themed historical murder-mystery series. While his Museum series volumes have been regularly reviewed in the HNR, we now have a series that feature murders set in famous hotels. It is a promising premise. This story is set in London in August 1940, while the Battle of Britain rages for the dominance of the skies over Britain. In the plush Ritz hotel in London’s West End, a body of an unknown man is found murdered in a suite of rooms occupied by the displaced King Zog of Albania and his extensive retinue. The Hon. Detective Chief Inspector Edgar Saxe-Coburg, who is a younger brother of the Duke of Dawlish, investigates the death, alongside his trusted assistant Detective Sergeant Ted Lampson. They are chalk and cheese – the elegant, patrician Coburg and the rough and ready Lampson, a Londoner from Somers Town. But they make a good and effective pairing, and respect and like each other.
The body of the murdered man is quickly and illegally spirited away from the morgue, and Coburg and Lampson get themselves engaged in a tricky maelstrom of crime, international politics and espionage. And then more bodies are found – in the Ritz and dragged from the Thames, there is a gangland killing or two, and to make matters worse, Germany starts to bomb London and other urban settlements in England. Coburg has a growing relationship with a talented and attractive entertainer Rosa Weeks, to provide a little diversion from the relentless battle against murder and other crimes in wartime London. It is a great story, that breezes along, and the characters are engaging and well-developed. I will look forward to the subsequent books in this series.