Wednesday, March 07, 2012

Death's Bright Angel by Janet Neel

There was a great deal of chatter on the mystery list DorothyL lately about Janet Neel's mysteries, so I thought I'd try one. This series is a short one, only seven books, so if you want to start a new series, you won't be bogged down. Death's Bright Angel, the first book, came out in 1988, and the last one was published in 2001. I'm a sucker for a good police procedural. Add in the London setting, and an attractive Scot as the protagonist, and I'm hooked.

William Fireman's death appeared to be a simple mugging gone bad. But, something about it didn't sit right with Detective Inspector John McLeish. And, the victim's job as purchasing manager at a textile firm didn't add much to the crime investigation. Then, while they were in the neighborhood, MacLeish and his partner, Detective Sergeant Bruce Davidson stumbled across Francesca Wilson. MacLeish fell hard. When he was called to her brother's flat, he took advantage of the opportunity to ask her out. And, it turned out Francesca worked for the Department of Trade and Industry. Her current project dealt with Britex, the textile company where William Fireman worked, a company on the brink of closing. Now that was a reason to take a closer look at William Fireman's death.

As McLeish works the criminal end of the case, Francesca is caught up in the business and politics at Britex. And, if Willaim Fireman's death was murder, someone there might be involved. Francesca is a little too close to danger for McLeish's peace of mind. And, she's too independent to listen to any man, even a Detective Inspector.

The combination of a criminal investigation and McLeish's personal life is reminiscent of some of my favorite British police procedurals, the Luke Thanet mysteries by Dorothy Simpson. And, the political and business aspects reminded me of Emma Lathen's books. Since I haven't read any others yet, I can't say if those comparisons will continue.  But, I liked McLeish. He's an attractive character, a thirty-one year-old Scot, 6'4", who used to be rugby forward. And Davidson knows, "Beneath the rugger-layer exterior the was a highly imaginative and sensitive policeman, qualities which normally he suppressed rigidly." Highly imaginative and sensitive. My kind of detective in a police procedural. I'm looking forward to the next in the series.

Death's Bright Angel by Janet Neel. St. Martin's Press. 1989. 0312025688 (hardcover), 214p.

FTC Full Disclosure - I borrowed this book through interlibrary loan at the library.


CindyD said...

Did you look up Janet Neel? I believe it's a pseudonym for a member of the British parliament.
I've read the whole series and wish she had time to write more!

Lesa said...

I didn't look up Janet Neel, Cindy. That's interesting that it's possible she's a member of Parliament. No wonder she didn't have time to write more.

Rosemary said...

I believe she is a Labour Peer in the House of Lords (ie non-elected) - she is also a lawyer. How wonderful it must be to be multi-talented.

Miranda James said...

Her real name is Janet Cohen, I believe. It's a wonderful series, and it's a shame she hasn't written more.

Lesa said...

Thanks for the updates, everyone! I'm waiting for the second in the series to come in.