After the First Snowfall in November (the 7th)

Tuesday, February 13, 2018

New English Crime Novel by Barbara Cleverly

My latest mystery is Diana's Altar, by Barbara Cleverly, a veteran English crime novelist. This novel is #13 in her Joe Sandilands crime series. A number of the early titles in the series take place in colonial India. Then Joe, a WWI veteran, swings back to England to work as a top investigator at Scotland Yard.  This one is Cleverly's latest in the series and was published in 2015.  It's set in Cambridge, England, during the early 1930s, just as many university students and a number dons are beginning to embrace communist ideals, causing MI5's and Scotland Yard's backs to raise hackles. 

Aside from that developing phenomenon, Dr. Adelaide Hartest, a low-status (though a daughter from a prestigious family), token woman in an all-male, prestigious medical practice, begins the novel by attending to two deaths on the same night, on All Hallows' Eve. One appears to be a suspicious suicide, a death by dagger, in a church known for its very odd Anglican vicar. The other is a death that Hartest clearly detects was a poisoning by arsenic in a country house owned by a money-purchased titled sir of ostentatious wealth.

Joe is very smart, funny, well-educated, and upper-class despite his choice of profession with MI5. He has tried and tried to betroth himself to Adelaide, who is resisting, according to her determination to retain her professional life. He supposes that she believes that marriage and professional commitment don't coexist for women at this time.

I was tipped off to this book by the Washington Post and NPR book critic, Maureen Corrigan, who gave this title a stellar review. I am enjoying it, I'm a third of the way through and longing for more, but I am despairing because I have only 5 days left with it before Overdrive claims the ebook back, without my consent. Overdrive is a tyrant that way.

And have you ever heard of Barbara Cleverly? This is the first I've learned of her. She was born in 1940 and is now 77. I'm very interested in trying one of the early, set-in-India, Joe Sandlilands books.


  1. If you're reading on a kindle and not ready to surrender your Overdrive loan, put it in 'airplane mode'... it won't disappear! I've never heard of this author before, but am intrigued.

    1. What a great tip! I do read Overdrive books occasionally on my Kindle Fire.
      I'm reading Diana's Altar on my Nook Samsung tablet, but I will skulk around the options available to see if I can find "airplane" mode. Thanks!

    2. JoAnn,
      I've found "Airplane Mode" on the Nook Samsung, and will try it out. I only need an extra day with the book, I think, so perhaps it will work out. Thanks for the suggestion.

  2. I may have to try this series again. I did not like the first two in the series (when I read them about 15 years ago) because they seemed too melodramatic to me. But I like the change of moving to the UK, and over time some series change, so if I run into one I will pick it up.

    1. Hi Tracy,
      I'm so interested that you weren't keen on the first two in the series. Perhaps I'll try them, but borrow them from the library rather than purchasing, just in case.
      And Tracy--I keep trying to post comments to your blog posts, but no matter what we try on our end, we're unable to do it. If by any chance, (and I have no expectations about this), you would be willing to post your email address by replying here, I could at least email my responses, because I do follow your blog keenly.
      And I completely understand if this idea doesn't work for you. Just know that I'm out here enjoying your blog.

    2. I am sorry it took me so long to reply to you, Judith. I would be happy to provide you with my email but am not entirely comfortable putting it in a reply here. I will try to think of another avenue. And get back with you.

    3. I understand completely, Tracy. I'll give you my email here. Please don't feel any need to reply.