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Morag Joss: Funeral Music


Crescent Blues Book Views Bantam Dell (Paperback), ISBN 044024241X

Book: Morag Joss: Funeral Music
Sara Selkirk no longer plays her cello in public. She gave up her musical career when she suffered an emotional breakdown at the death of a loved one. But a friend and fellow musician convinces her to perform with him at a fund-raising event, and Sara begins to believe she may be able to salvage her career as a professional cellist. That is, until she returns to the museum the morning after her performance to retrieve a lost belt and discovers a dead body.

This British police procedural uses the historic town of Bath, England, and its famous Roman baths almost as another character. The history and the charm of the town provide a perfect setting for unraveling the mystery. In addition to the appealing setting, the author paints her most of her secondary characters -- the police detective with more of an interest in learning to play cello than in his wife and family, the exuberant young health club manager who fell for the wrong guy and an aging renowned cello player who encourages Sara to play again -- with great skill. But some don't fare as well. A young chef, Paul, for example, comes off as flat and confusing, though hunky and mysterious.

If you like your mysteries with a side of interior design and a topping of music history, add Funeral Music to your list. A fast read that seasoned whodunit readers may solve too quickly, the writing sparkles and the puzzle fits together nicely in the end.

For readers who've exhausted the list of crime novels by P.D. James and Elizabeth George and don't mind settling for something almost as good, Morag Joss's novels won't disappoint. Her three Sarah Selkirk mysteries set in Bath and just published in paperback in the U.S. prove well worth tucking away for a vacation read. Even armchair travelers may feel as if they've spent a weekend strolling the English countryside, getting to know a few pleasant Brits.

Augusta Scattergood

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