Partitions of Unity by Jennifer Mason

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Partitions of Unity by Jennifer Mason

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Category: General Fiction
Rating: 4/5
Reviewer: Jill Murphy
Reviewed by Jill Murphy
Buy? Yes Borrow? Yes
Pages: 331 Date: May 2018
Publisher: Century
ISBN: 978-0998022116

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Here at Bookbag Towers, we first met Elizabeth Cromwell, dominatrix and unintentional detective in Preposterous, when she investigated and unravelled a series of disappearances. In Partitions of Unity, she sets her mind to solving a murder....

.... Cromwell's dominatrix business is high end and runs out of the euphemistically named The English Department. She is not unused to wealth and power - individuals of high net worth, as such people are often known - and so is not particularly surprised to be contacted by an investigator administering the assets of one Burleigh Polk, after he has died. Polk had become obsessed with Cromwell and was in possession of several of her books, which had been hollowed out and filled with her likenesses. Going to his house to recover her books, Elizabeth meets Robert, a professor of mathematics at Berkeley, who invites her to a bar.

But the meeting never takes place. Cromwell arrives at the bar and the professor isn't there. Soon, she discovers he has been murdered and a strange caller accuses her of stealing his laptop. Her curiosity piqued, Cromwell sets out to discover why Polk had developed his obsession for her and how it could possibly connect to the murder of a mathematics professor. Eventually, she is joined in this endeavour by the man on the phone, also a mathematics professor called Andrei Andreyev. As the two begin to unravel the mystery, they also develop an irresistible attraction to one another.

I enjoyed the first Elizabeth Cromwell story I read but I think I enjoyed this one even more. It has the same evocative sense of place as Preposterous - a Californian milieu described with the deepest sense of affectionate intimacy yet imbued with a slight dash of melancholy - and inspires the same confidence in Cromwell as a fiercely intelligent and observant woman who will pursue an objective until the required success is achieved. But it's more of a straight whodunnit - who killed the professor and why, and, more to the point, what is the connection to Cromwell and her unusual business.

There are a great many clues but many of them are disguised and you will need to commit full attention to catch them all. Mason never underestimates her readers, this I have learned. There is, as you'd expect, some sex in a book whose leading character is a dominatrix, including a drawn out scene of the seduction of Andrei. And there is a lot of sharp dialogue, usually featuring Cromwell making mincemeat of the parcel of detectives also following the case. There is more than one kind of domination!

If you like a close, intense, demanding, read and a demanding, carefully-plotted mystery, Partitions of Unity would be a great choice. I thoroughly enjoyed it.


If you're looking for further reading, Dark Angels by Grace Monroe is a more traditional crime novel featuring a dominatrix.

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Buy Partitions of Unity by Jennifer Mason at Amazon You can read more book reviews or buy Partitions of Unity by Jennifer Mason at


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