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by Nora Kelly
Poisoned Pen Press, October 1999
187 pages
ISBN: 1890208221

Buy in the UK | Buy in Canada

Poisoned Pen has done readers a service by reviving this series by Nora Kelly, a Canadian-American who lives in Vancouver and once resided in Cambridge. In the Shadow of King¼s introduces Gillian Adams and her lover, Edward Gisbourne of Scotland Yard, in an academic novel that makes up in wit for what it might lack in tension. Gillian is back at King's after fifteen years away from Cambridge, a luncheon guest of Alistair Greenwood, Regius Professor of Modern History, whose lectures had inspired the course of her career. At table, Greenwood's life is threatened; the next day, he is murdered, unfortunately for the murderer, with Edward present in the room.

Especially attractive in this novel is the portrait of one of the main characters, Cambridge itself, and the bittersweet emotions it generates in those associated with it. Kelly is clearly familiar with her predecessors on this ground, Dorothy Sayers at the other place, and Amanda Cross, at something like Columbia, but not intimidated by them in the least. As was true of Gaudy Night, the ambiguous relation of women to the university is an issue here, with due allowances for what changes time has wrought. Gillian Adams is a cousin of Harriet Vane and Kate Fansler, but less intimidating than Harriet and less irritating than Kate. I look forward to seeing how she will develop.

Reviewed by Yvonne Klein, July 2002

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Contact: Yvonne Klein (ymk@reviewingtheevidence.com)

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