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A Little White Death by John Lawton
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I love the Frederick Troy series of novels (and they are proper novels): so vividly realised is the social history of England through these unconventional murder mysteries. The writing is deft and subtle, the characters interesting and fully rounded. Troy himself is real enough that I sometimes find myself wondering what he would say to his creator if he met him, so often is he injured, wounded and generally made a victim of extreme ill health. Poor Troy: Lawton really does have it in for him in this one.

This one is set in 1963, and, at least at first, closely follows the story of the Kilby defection and the Profumo affair, though Lawton, in his afterword, emphatically denies that he has written a roman a clef; indeed, towards the end of the novel, the 'Profumo' character refers to a year of scandals, including his own as well as that of Profumo: cheeky!

Lawton is a master of the set piece: the weekend at the aristocratic country house (Uphill, which is obviously NOT Cliveden etc.), a visit to Moscow; and the sex is as surprising as ever. I have to admit that I'm not so keen on Troy's sometimes rather questionable choice of sexual partners, another characteristic of the series, but I do share Lawton's pleasure in the addition of a little grit in the oyster in the form of the sometimes rather vulgar diction in the mouths of the most sophisticated people.

The wittiest element, though, I think, is Lawton's use of anachronism: characters are made to seem amazingly prescient in their opinions with the benefit of the author's hindsight: predictions about the political future, or judgements of the character of, say, Harold Wilson, are (as we now know!) spot on. This is delicious.

If you've read Troy before, all your favourite characters appear and you're sure to enjoy this as a classic of the genre; if this is your first, I hope you come to love Troy as much as I do, and welcome to the club!

My one slight cavil with the whole series is the difficulty I've had in reading them in the proper sequence: they seem to have been written - or at least published - out of chronological order. But of course that just gives me the perfect excuse to read them all again, in the right order this time.

Oh, I nearly forgot: the murders and their solutions are, indeed, ingenious! ( )
1 vote jtck121166 | Jul 13, 2013 |
It's about a scandal in 1950s (1960s?) London, back when the entire country was socially stifling and conservative. My memory of the book is jumbled, as I kept skipping ahead to the naughty bits. And I can't even recall what those naughty bits were.

It might've been a spy novel. Or a crime novel.

In retrospect, I'm pretty sure I only picked up this book because of its cover--but oh, the cover!
  one-horse.library | Jun 9, 2011 |
Imagine a crime story based in 1960's London. No DNA, no emails, no cell phones. How refreshing ! But what's a top-ranking officer of Scotland Yard to use when confronted with a suspicious death (or two). Well, how about that old standby, fingerprints ? and intuition ? and careful listening to witness statements ? ALWD is one of those rare period pieces that really embraces the period. And it's filled with politics, money, class, scandal, conspiracy.....what more do you want? A spy story? Actually, ALWD feels very much like a spy story for the first 50 pages or so, similar to one of those grand Le Carre stories of 40 years ago, but then it gets very sexy, and the spooks drift into the background. This is about the 3rd novel in this series of seven books, and my first. It may not matter where the reader jumps into the storyline. The author hops all over the timeline as he goes from book to book, so you will not follow a story chronology unless you jump from book 4 to book 1 then to book 6 etc. (read the synopses for an accurate timeline). And it tracks with key moments in history. For instance, ALWD ends on a key date, one that most readers will see coming fairly early in the story.....Enjoy! ( )
2 vote maneekuhi | Sep 17, 2010 |
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0802142907, Paperback)

The latest novel from the master spy novelist John Lawton follows Inspector Troy, now Scotland Yard’s chief detective, deep into a scandal reminiscent of the infamous Profumo affair.
England in 1963 is a country set to explode. The old guard, shocked by the habits of the war baby youth, sets out to fight back. The battle reaches uncomfortably close to Troy. While he is on medical leave, the Yard brings charges against an acquaintance of his, a hedonistic doctor with a penchant for voyeurism and young women, two of whom just happen to be sleeping with a senior man at the Foreign Office as well as a KGB agent.
But on the eve of the verdict a curious double case of suicide drags Troy back into active duty. Beyond bedroom acrobatics, the secret affairs now stretch to double crosses and deals in the halls of power, not to mention murder. It’s all Troy can do to stay afloat in a country immersed in drugs, up to its neck in scandal.

(retrieved from Amazon Mon, 30 Sep 2013 13:58:46 -0400)

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In 1963, Scotland Yard's Chief Inspector Troy is called back to active duty from his medical leave on the eve of the verdict in a case involving a physician acquaintance to deal with a curious double suicide.

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