In her third adventure ex pat Australian Belinda Lawrence and her antique dealer friend Hazel Whitby are working on a period drama being filmed at historic Ham House in Surrey. Hazel is keeping an eye on some antique silverware that she has hired out as props for the film and Belinda goes along for the ride. As the egos get bigger and personality squabbles get nastier on set one of the film’s stars dies and Belinda finds herself both a stand-in for the replacement star and a suspect.
I’m not sure why it is so but film sets, at least in fiction, do seem to have a murder rate higher than the average workplace. This one is beset by egotistical behaviour, dummy spits from all the stars and multiple potential murder motives. What fun. Kavanagh does a nice job of intertwining the very modern setting of movie making with the historical setting of the house and both aspects felt realistic to me which is not entirely surprising as Kavanagh is a well-credentialed film producer, director and editor as well as being an accomplished mystery writer.
Although these are known as Belinda Lawrence mysteries my personal favourite character in the series is Hazel who has the kind of sarcastic wit I enjoy so I was pleased to see her driving much of the action in this tale. Belinda, who I also like for being independent and more than a bit daring, has a few personal problems to contend with here as well as being suspected of murder. She has to choose between her English boyfriend of some years (who is frankly a bit soppy for my liking) and an old friend from Australia who she has recently reconnected with. This brings a nice bit of tension to the book without making it too schmaltzy.
Bloody Ham offers an entertaining combination of an old-fashioned whodunit with characters who are fun to meet. It seems everyone on the film set has something to hide and the side threads are as entertaining as the main, twist-filled plot. In short, the book is delightful and recommended to fans of cosies and traditional mysteries.
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My rating 3.5/5
Publisher BeWrite Books ; ISBN 9781905202539 Length 174 pages
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I have also reviewed The Embroidered Corpse, the second book in this series