First Sentence: The telephone set jangled on the corner of Cyrus Barker’s desk, and we both turned our head to stare at it.
The personal tobacconist to Private Inquiry Agent Cyrus Barker has died. He was murdered in his shop. His body found in his humidor. It is up to Scotsman Barker, and his Welsh assistant Thomas Llewelyn, to find the killer.
If one has not previously read Will Thomas, this is an excellent introduction to his wonderful Barker and Llewelyn series.
Thomas’ dialogue and subtle wry humor are always a pleasure to read—“Someone had died,” I stated. “Aye,” the Guv answered, “It is Vasilos Dimitriadis.” “Your tobacconist?” “The same.” “Isn’t he the one who blends your tobacco for you but won’t say what is in it?” “Not ‘isn’t,’ Mr. Llewelyn. ‘Wasn’t.’ Scotland Yard has required our presence immediately. Come along.”
Thomas cleverly calls out the dismissiveness toward women and prejudice towards foreigners—“It was always easier to blame a foreigner, as if England had no criminal class of its own.”—demonstrating that little has changed over time.
“An Awkward Way to Die” is a clever story with the solution proving that it’s all about noticing the details. It is a delight to read.
AN AWKWARD WAY TO DIE (Hist Mys/SS–Barker/Llewellyn–London-Victorian) – VGThomas, Will – 13th in series (Novelette)
Minotaur Books - July 2017