- Title(s): Ice Blue, Blue Murder, Something Blue
- Author: Emma Jameson
- Series: Lord and Lady Hetheridge Mysteries
- Genre(s): Contemporary, Mystery/Suspense
- Publisher: Lyonnesse Books, March 2011
- Source: Purchased ($3.99 for Kindle)
- Length: 170-200 pages
- Trope(s): Age Gap, Smartass Heroine, Repressed Hero, Cops, Misogyny & Racism, Murder & Mayhem
- Quick blurb: Veteran (and titled) Scotland Yard inspector’s world is turned upside down when he brings a foul-mouthed young female onto his team.
- Quick review: Hooked by the brilliant characterization, stayed for the bloody stuff.
- Grade: A- (for the series so far)
The first book in this series popped somewhere in my Amazon recommendations soon after it was published, and I LOVED it without even realizing I’d read the author before. Emma Jameson is a pseudonym of Stephanie Abbott, aka edgy m/m author S.A. Reid (Protection, Something Different). I’m always blown away by writers who can successfully switch genre and voice, and Abbott/Jameson/Reid appears to be phenomenally good at it.
The author labels the Lord and Lady Hetheridge books as “cozy” mysteries, but with the metro London setting and the prickly, smartass professional detective heroine, these books don’t have that Miss Marple/Jessica Fletcher vibe I associate with cozies. There’s just enough blood-and-guts gore and police procedural stuff to sustain the “cynical urban cops” atmosphere, with a few suspenseful gun-in-the-face moments and a charming serial killer to keep everyone from getting too jaded. Book two, Blue Murder, has a particularly good twisty bit at the end.
For me, however, this series is all about the characters.
Anthony Hetheridge, ninth Baron of Wellegrave, Chief Superintendent for New Scotland Yard, never married, no children, no pets, no hobbies, and not even an interesting vice, would turn sixty in three weeks. With the exception of his chosen career, his life had largely gone as others had predicted, without foolishness or significant errors. He had conducted himself with honor, and had even begun to think of himself as one who “held up well” over the years. Growing old did not torment Hetheridge; it was simply part of the graceful arc of his existence. His twenties had been the time for exploration and a thirst for learning; his thirties, for honing his strengths and accepting his weaknesses; his forties, for cool, self-centered joy only true professional mastery can bring. His sixties would be the natural time of decline – retirement, withdrawal into burnished memories, the descending curtain, the snuffed lights. One night, over a gin and tonic garnished with lime, it occurred to him there were dozens of ways to bring down the curtain himself, on his own terms. It was only fleeting, but the unworthiness, the hollow cowardice, startled him. Rarely these days did anything escape his control, even an errant thought.
That was the opening paragraph. I didn’t read any further in the sample before hitting the BUY NOW GIMME GIMME GIMME button.
With the exception of the whole Scotland Yard thing, Hetheridge is straight out of a Regency. His uniform is a bespoke suit, silk tie, Italian shoes, and heirloom cufflinks. His transportation is the back seat of a Bentley driven by Harvey, his devoted valet/chauffeur. He diffuses bellowing arguments with a murmured “I say…” from the sidelines, or an occasional quiet but emphatic “Enough!” His superiors rely on his aristocratic pedigree to “appease the titled and influential.”
What’s really fascinating about Anthony is how he uses his posh background to hold himself aloof from his crass colleagues – not as snobbery, but as a shield against their relentless racism and misogyny and general disgustingness. Anthony accepted long ago that he would be held up as a role model, and he does it with such dignity and never-ending correctness that the worst they can do is call him “Lord” instead of “Chief Superintendent” behind his back.
But this is a novel, so of course something must scuff up his polished veneer before his impending retirement, and her name is Kate.
My God, Hetheridge thought, staring at DS Wakefield. He had heard of her, of course, and had seen her once in passing, at a distance, across the length of a paved lot. But now, within barely an arms-length, he stared at the woman as if he had never been warned of her existence. My God, he thought again. He felt chilled inside, as he had when that oil-smelling Glock appeared in his face, and that merciless finger squeezed the trigger.
Holy hell, I love this woman. Her first line of dialogue is “You’re a plonker!” shrieked at her commanding officer in the echoing marble lobby of New Scotland Yard. Her follow-up report of the incident has just one hand-scrawled word: “Plonker.”¹
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