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by Barbara Cleverly
Soho Constable, August 2008
288 pages
ISBN: 156947513X

Buy in the UK | Buy in Canada

Sir George Jardine is in Paris on business. When his cousin sends him a ticket, Jardine attends the Paris Music Hall to watch the renowned Josephine Baker. As he is seated, he notices Sir Stanley Somerton attending the theater with a lady of the evening. As the two men are not close friends, they do not speak. Then once the show begins, his old nemesis, Alice Conyers, joins him in his box but leaves before the show ends. Unfortunately, at some point during the show, Sir Stanley Somerton is murdered and Jardine finds himself arrested as the murderer.

Joe Sandilands is sent by Scotland Yard to help get Jardine out of prison and clear him of the murder. Sandilands knows Jardine well and does not accept the police’s assurance of his guilt. Luckily Sandilands manages to convince the investigating officer that the best way to prove Jardine’s guilt is to investigate and prove the no one else could be the killer. The obvious place to begin the investigation is at the Paris Music Hall, where Sandilands befriends one of the staff, who shows him the darker side of the place. As with any group of performers, there are numerous tensions among cliques and nasty gossip about everyone one does not get along with. The better Sandilands understands the dynamics of the company, then the better his chance of discovering the killer.

Sandilands has an unexpected ally in the city pathologist, Dr Moulin. Dr Moulin believes that this murder is part of a series of killings that have occurred within the last few years. There are no obvious connections among the homicides and they have all been resolved, yet, Moulin believes there has been a cover up. He believes that there is a group of highly trained assassins working for a criminal mastermind and that if Sandilands is to have any hope of clearing his friend's name, he must find and take down this criminal mastermind.

FOLLY DU JOUR is the seventh book in the Joe Sandilands series. Unfortunately it is also the weakest. The plot is not as tightly constructed as in earlier boos and there are too many coincidences to be believable. I thought the identity of the killer was apparent and was surprised that it took Sandilands so long to unmask him. FOLLY DU JOUR is not a poorly written book; it is merely disappointing. As the previous books in the series indicate that Cleverly is a very capable and competent writer, it came as a surprise that this book does not meet her usual standard.

While FOLLY DU JOUR was below par for this series, I still enjoyed it. As I have followed this series from the beginning I wanted to know what happened and what type of crime Sandilands had to solve. For long time fans, I would still recommend this book; however, it should be read as though Joe Sandilands is having an off day instead of being at his prime. Only then can some of the faults be overlooked.

Reviewed by Sarah Dudley, August 2008

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Contact: Yvonne Klein (ymk@reviewingtheevidence.com)

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