Last Nocturne by Marjorie Eccles

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Last Nocturne by Marjorie Eccles

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Category: Crime
Rating: 4/5
Reviewer: Sue Magee
Reviewed by Sue Magee
Summary: Two apparent suicides lead back to the mysterious Mrs Isobel Amberley and Vienna before the First World War. It's well-plotted, well written and recommended.
Buy? Yes Borrow? Yes
Pages: 288 Date: March 2008
Publisher: Allison & Busby
ISBN: 978-0749080792

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It was whilst she was at Evensong that Grace Thurley decided that she would not marry her fiancé. Instead she took a job as a social secretary to recently-widowed Edwina Martagon and moved to London. Eliot Martagon had shot himself in his study some months earlier, leaving neither suicide note nor any indication that there was a problem in his life.

In a less salubrious part of London a young artist is discovered impaled on some metal railings. It seems that he had jumped from his top-floor studio, but he too had left no note and no one can understand why he would do such a thing. Some of his work was selling in a prestigious art gallery which was owned by the late Eliot Martagon. Even in Edwardian times a suicide wouldn't be investigated by a Chief Inspector, but Lamb and Detective Sergeant Cogan make discreet enquiries. Lamb had once met Theo Benton, the artist and been impressed by his ambition.

Many years ago I suffered a lengthy illness and my husband was in the habit of bringing me piles of books from the crime section at the local library. He started with the letter A and worked his way through and this was how I encountered Marjorie Eccles and her Gil Mayo series, but search as I might I found no more of her books in the library or the local bookshops. So Last Nocturne was eagerly snatched up.

Set in that time when the influence of the 'old queen' could still be felt but the newer Edwardian values hadn't fully percolated through society, Eccles gives us a snapshot of London as it was, when women didn't venture out on their own or use public transport unless they were accompanied. Extra-marital liaisons are tacitly condoned unless the scandal is made public and then all those involved are subject to public censure. The lifestyle is elegant but the reality less than honest. It's all done with a gentle touch – the background rather than the reason for the novel. War is but half a decade away and the first stirrings of military might are being felt throughout Europe and particularly in Vienna where much of the story takes place.

All threads in the story seem to lead back to the mysterious Mrs Isobel Amberley and an event which took place one snowy night in Vienna and the narrative neatly switches between Vienna and London and between those grieving for the apparent suicides and those who don't yet know what will befall them. It's cleverly done and once I had Edwina Martagon and Isobel Amberley clearly differentiated in my mind the story cracked on at a neat pace.

Normally I'm less than pleased when I work out the who and the why before the end of the book, but here it didn't seem to matter. I had the right person in the frame and most of the reasoning was correct, but I still had the pleasure of a well-plotted story and some excellent writing.

I'd like to thank the publishers for sending a copy to The Bookbag.

There are quite a few crime writers who have been delivering classy fiction for a number of years but who are sadly less well-know than they should be. Bookbag can also recommend The Edge by Clare Curzon or A Fall from Grace by Robert Barnard.

Buy Last Nocturne by Marjorie Eccles at Amazon You can read more book reviews or buy Last Nocturne by Marjorie Eccles at

Buy Last Nocturne by Marjorie Eccles at Amazon You can read more book reviews or buy Last Nocturne by Marjorie Eccles at


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