Murder at the Victoria and Albert Museum (Museum Mysteries #8) by Jim Eldridge: 4****

Daniel and Abigail Wilson are at it again in this 8th episode of the Museum Detective series. Jim Eldridge has created a wonderful couple who tackle investigations that occur in British museums. They are fun reads, they are fast paced books, as a matter of fact I finished this one in under two days, and most times their plots are well conceived and their characters are well drafted.

            I was excited when I received this book and quickly put it to the top of my queue. And while it certainly was an enjoyable read, especially after some of the last books I have been reading, I felt it wasn’t quite up to the standards of the other books. Now I know that in all mystery novels the idea is to both craft a believable plot as well as to keep the readers guessing as to who the killer really is, in this book I thought Mr. Eldridge got a bit too cute and convoluted in his plot that it actually lost me for about 25 pages. You see we are dealing with the murder of a museum curator who was found dead at the building site of the Victoria and Albert Museum. And before you know it Daniel and Abigail have been summoned to Buckingham Palace and had been directed by Queen Victoria to investigate this murder.

            This puts the Wilson’s directly in the path of Scotland Yard. They have a good friend who works there, an inspector named Joe Feathers, and they try to work with him throughout these books. But the comic relief is Superintendent Armstrong who hates Daniel Wilson from the time when Wilson was in Scotland Yard. Armstrong also despises the fact that museum detectives receive exemplary public acclaim in the newspapers, as well as the fact that they usually solve these cases that Scotland Yard can’t solve. No matter how much the Wilsons tries to assist Inspector Feathers, nothing is satisfactory to Superintendent Armstrong and his reactions are never correct but also serves to move the plot along. And that’s what I was expecting in this book

            However since it is 1899, the prospect of a second Boer War hangs over England and now there is a possibility that the decedent was somehow involved in foreign espionage with regard to this looming conflict. Before you know it we have the military intelligence involved, the security services involved, Scotland Yard investigating, German emigrant clubs and despite my best efforts I just could not keep up with everything.

            But as with all of his books, this is well written, and eventually good always triumphs over evil. As the book takes place in 1899 and I love all the period references, especially that of Daniel Wilson when he sees a typewriter for the first time and has no earthly idea what that new-fangled gadget really is or what it does! I will admit that until a few pages from the end I had no idea as to the final solution because along the way there is a second murder which seems to distract everyone’s attention.

            Even though this is the 8th book of the series it’s not necessary that you read any of the prior books. They are mostly standalone novels as well as being  fun and easy reads. Eldridge has another series about a hotel detective and one of these days I’m going to get around to trying to read some of those, but until then I’ll stick with the Museum Detectives and look forward to their next adventure.

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