December 02, 2005

Death of a Dormouse, by Reginald Hill

I like Hill's mystery novels, but only his Dalziel/Pascoe books are generally available here in the States. As a result of cleaning up my study, I've consolidated my to-be-read pile onto a couple of shelves. Here's a book I got on my last trip to Australia (several years ago) that I only got around to reading this week.

Trudi Adamson has had a quiet life in the twenty-five years since she got married. Her husband has taken jobs in Switzerland and in Vienna and such-like romantic locales, and she, being shy and agoraphobic, has spent most of them quietly at home ignoring the world while her husband travels on business. Now her husband is dead in a car accident, leaving her almost nothing, and she somehow has to learn to live by herself and for herself. She crashes for some time, surviving only with the help of an old friend from her school days, but eventually scrapes some gumption together and gets a job.

And then, of course, peculiar things begin to happen. Her husband's death didn't occur quite the way she'd been told. In fact, she begins to come across evidence that her husband's life away from home was rather different than she'd thought. And that, of course, is just the beginning.

What we have here, really, is Charade artfully redone as a thriller rather than as a screwball comedy with moments of violence. And without Cary Grant, of course. As I was reading it, it all seemed a little too farfetched, and Trudi's metamorphosis from shy agoraphobia to self-reliant assertiveness doesn't quite work. Still, I wanted to find out what happened, and the final twist was both unexpected and rather touching.

Posted by Will Duquette at December 2, 2005 07:18 PM