Conductor and violinist Gethsemane Brown loves the cottage in which she lives, and is determined to save it from the hotel developer working hard to buy it. Were that not enough, her museum curator brother-in-law is coming for a visit hoping to buy a unique American cross-stitch sampler and dealing with the world of fake and stolen antiques. Instead, he ends up accused of theft, and possibly of murder. Hoping for help from her favorite ghost, she accidentally calls up the spirit of an 18th-century sea captain who once knew the girl who stitched the famous sampler.
Gordon’s style and voice are such a pleasure to read. She doesn’t take one’s time up with an unnecessary prologue, but starts the story at the start. She doesn’t fill space with pages of background exposition, but provides the information as part much of the information as part of an early conversation, and as the story progresses. Her introduction of characters makes them come to life—“Gethsemane recognized the baritone and greeted An Garda Síochána Inspector Iollan O’Reilly. His trademark stingy-brimmed fedora pulled low against the wind, obscured his salt-and-pepper hair.” Her introduction of Gethsemane’s brother-in-law also leads to a conversation about a letter providing background of the crime.
The dialogue is sharp, natural—“Being out here’s not so bad. Fresh air, beautiful view. And it could be worse. I could be playing flunky to a megalomaniacal narcissist with the aesthetic sensibility of a toddler beauty pageant coordinator.”--and immediately informs one that this is not, in fact, a cozy, but a traditional mystery.
For those who do any type of needlework, the story will bring joy to the heart—“Textiles belong in the fine art realm as much as paintings do, even if they don’t get nearly the same respect….People don’t appreciate the quality because the stitching was often done on utilitarian items.” There is also an interesting comparison of Irish history to black history. These are only small pieces of things one learns through Gordon. One might wish Gordon to be more specific as to which movement of Beethoven’s “Pathétique” Gethsemane hears in her head as a warning of trouble, but that’s being very picky.
“Death in D Minor” is a delightful read. But then, how can one go wrong with music, murder, art, and a ghost.
DEATH IN D MINOR (Trad/Para Mys-Gethsemane Brown-Ireland-Contemp) – G+
Gordon, Alexia – 2nd in series
Henery Press – July 2017